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NEWS: Barlow says health care will be a ‘galvanizing fight’ in Canada

Barlow speaking at media conference in Halifax this morning. Photo: Angela Giles

The Globe and Mail reports, “A series of high-stakes discussions that will lead to a new health funding deal between Ottawa and the provinces started Thursday in Halifax… The meeting of health ministers from the provinces and territories is the first step toward the 2014 Health Accord. Efforts to identify priorities will begin here, be continued next month by provincial and territorial finance ministers and culminate with a gathering of premiers in January. …’These discussions are very preliminary, they’re discussions that will inform the premiers meeting’, said Maureen MacDonald, the Nova Scotia Health Minister and host of the meetings, shortly before kicking off talks Thursday morning. …The ministers will be joined Thursday evening by Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq.”

The article continues, “The series of meetings starting in Halifax are being cast by defenders of public health care as a key point in the battle to prevent privatization. Council of Canadians chair Maude Barlow linked it to the recent Occupy movement and expected it to be a ‘galvanizing fight’ across the country. …Ms. Barlow, with the Council of Canadians (is) linking this fight to the broader issue of inequality. ‘What we’re saying here is that we’ve watched this erosion [of equality] but we’re not going to put up with it with health care,’ she said. ‘I think it’s going to be a galvanizing fight across the country. And you just watch how excited Canadians are going to get about defending their health care system.’”

The Canadian Press adds, “Ottawa should expand health care programs by increasing taxes, a coalition of medicare advocates said Thursday as federal, provincial and territorial health ministers prepare to meet in Halifax. Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians said the federal government should commit to a 10-year health transfer plan with the provinces that would see a six per cent increase in funding annually. ‘At the moment, the Harper government is only committed to 2016, so we are very concerned that they have no intention of carrying it beyond that,’ said Barlow. She told a news conference that the Canada Health Act must also be enforced to stop private health care services from eroding the system. Barlow also called for health care coverage to be broadened to include pharmacare, continuing care and dental care.”