Skip to content

Council of Canadians calls for governments to implement pharmacare

Council of Canadians health care campaigner Michael Butler will be in Whitehorse this July 20-22 to intervene at the Council of the Federation meeting of premiers.

The Globe and Mail reports, “The Trudeau government’s honeymoon with the provinces risks coming to an abrupt end as premiers push for billions in new transfers for health care. …As premiers prepare to gather this week in Whitehorse, provinces are expressing concern that Ottawa appears unwilling to spend more on health, which is a major budget concern for provinces as the proportion of elderly Canadians rises.”

Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott has only stated that transfer payments provide a stable funding base for the provinces and that any additional federal support would be focused on priority areas such as home care and mental health.

But the newspaper notes, “Provincial anxiety is coming to a head now because a long planned change to health transfers is about to kick in. A guaranteed annual transfer growth of 6 per cent is ending next year. Instead, transfers are scheduled to increase in line with the rate of economic growth and the guaranteed increase will drop to 3 per cent.”

In December 2011, the Harper government announced a new funding formula – not negotiated with the provinces, but rather presented in a unilateral fashion – that meant the federal government would commit to a six per cent annual increase in 2014 to 2016, but then just a minimum three per cent annual increase between 2017 and 2024. In January 2012, then-Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page said he expected this funding formula would cost the provinces about $31 billion over the ten year period. In July 2012, the premiers forecast the cut would be $36 billion.

During the last federal election the Liberals promised to negotiate a new health accord with the provinces, but did not specifically promise to restore the 6 per cent annual increase. It has already been highlighted that the Liberal budget tabled this past March increased transfer payments to the provinces by 2.8 per cent for 2017-18, below even the 3 per cent minimum promised by the Harper Conservatives.

The Globe and Mail adds, “The new formula based on the rate of economic growth is already leading to fluctuations in what the provinces can expect. The 2015 Conservative budget estimated the new formula would lead to a transfer of $39.1-billion to the provinces for health in 2018-19. Yet one year later, the Liberal government’s 2016 budget said the transfer that year will be only $38.5-billion.”

And the article notes, “The provinces want Ottawa to commit to funding 25 per cent of the cost of health care. The Parliamentary Budget Office has estimated the federal share stood at 20.4 per cent in 2010-11 and will decline steadily under the new formula that takes effect next year.”

The Council of Canadians is demanding a 10-year accord with annual 6 per cent increases in health care transfer payments to the provinces, at least 25 per cent federal funding of provincial health care costs, a prohibition on user fees and privatization, the implementation of pharmacare, and a commitment to public solutions.

Our health care campaigner says, “I’ll be heading to Whitehorse this week to demand that our governments protect Canada’s most cherished social program and implement universal pharmacare.” He asks that you support this effort by sending a message to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and your premier demanding that our governments protect Canada’s most cherished social program and implement universal pharmacare. You can do so by going to our action alert here.

For more on our health care campaign, please click here.