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A delegation from the Canadian Health Coalition (CHC), including National President Judy Darcy, met with federal Finance Minister Paul Martin on Tuesday, January 5 to press for a major hike in federal funding for health care.

The CHC presented Martin with a five-year plan to save Medicare, calling for an increase of $4.6 billion in federal funding for health care in each of the next five years. This funding would restore a stable base for health care, fund a national home care program and renew federal funding for health protection and research.

Shirley Douglas, daughter of Tommy Douglas, the founder of Medicare in Canada, told Martin the federal government w0069ll be held responsible for the destruction of Medicare” if federal funding is not restored to 25 per cent of health care spending. Without that leverage, the CHC has argued the federal government has no ability to ensure a national health care program respecting the five principles of the Canada Health Act. Federal funding has fallen to 11 per cent of health care spending over the past five years.

Darcy pressed the point that the CHC proposal is more than a question of money. She called for “legislative muscle to stop privatization”. Pointing out the need to adequately fund hospital services and to guarantee that home care services are delivered by the public sector. “If not, we’re just siphoning off public funds into corporate profits.” she said.

Martin repeated his support for Medicare, but made no specific financial commitments. Interested in the CHC’s five year plan, he said that he wanted to “establish the markers” to show the federal government is back in the game and is in to stay.”.

The delegation called again for a national summit on health care and agreed to meet again wit Martin after the budget to discuss further the five-year plan.

While encouraged by Martin’s comments, Darcy said t0068e proof of the pudding is in the eating. We’ll see on budget day.”