March 31st, 2015, marks the one year anniversary of the expiry of the Health Accord.
Canada is facing an important next step in our medicare history. In 2014, the current health care accord – the deal that sets funding and health care service delivery agreements between the federal and provincial and territorial governments – expired. The federal government continues to ignore calls by the provinces and territories to work on a deal, and shockingly announced devastating health care cuts with the bulk of the cuts (over $36 billion) coming into effect after the next federal election in 2015.
On March 31st come join the National Day of Action for a New Health Accord and attend one of the over 50 rallies across Canada. It is time to let the federal government know that you #stand4medicare, demand a new Health Accord, and will be voting health in 2015.
The Health Accord is an agreement between the provinces, territories and federal government. It provides the provinces with stable funding and sets national standards. The Canada Health Act was a part of the Health Accord and it required public administration, universal access, comprehensive coverage, accessibility without extra charges or discrimination, and portability across the provinces. As well, the Accord included a set of common goals for wait times, home care, prescription drugs, and primary care.
Last year, the Council of Canadians traveled across Canada for the Save Our Healthcare tour. This Campaign to protect, strengthen and expand public health care was held 16 town halls across the country from coast to coast where we interacted with over 200,000 people.
People across Canada were shocked that this government refuses to sit down with the provinces to negotiate a new Health Accord and that they put their ideology ahead of the well being of Canadians. The Harper government unilaterally decided to cut $36 billion cut to health care over 10 years and an additional $16.5 billion cut to health care equalization payments. . In the year since the Health Accord expired, the Conservatives have already reduced funding by $987 million. To make matters worse, they plan to tie federal health transfers to economic growth. So in times of a struggling economy, when people’s health care needs increase, the funding will be reduced.
Only a universal, public health care system can ensure that all Canadians, in every province, receive the quality health care they need . Yet, the Harper government is deliberately causing fragmentation and inequity in health care for Canadians, and is encouraging provinces to rely more on the for-profit sector to deliver health care.
Any leverage the federal government had to ensure provinces are complying with the Canada Health Act is eliminated without a Health Accord and money is given to Premiers with no strings attached. By removing national standards, health services will be unevenly provided across the provinces and territories, and the type of care you receive will depend on where you live and your ability to pay. This goes against the founding principle of our medicare and the core Canadian value that health care must be based on need, not ability to pay.
It's time for real federal leadership to step up and secure the future of universal public health care in Canada. The Harper government has walked away from its responsibility to health care and is cowardly sneaking in billions of dollars in cuts after the election (because they know Canadians value their medicare). Without a Health Accord it will make it impossible to know how bad health care conditions in the provinces are getting and it will create a pretext for mass privatization. Make no mistake; this is the Harper government’s plan.
In the next federal election it is crucial that Canadians #votehealth to save our public health care system.
This means demanding federal parties clearly promise to protect and expand our public health care system by reversing the Conservative cuts.
On March 31st join a local event and demand real leadership and a new Health Accord!