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NEWS: NDP says MPs, not Senators, should review the Canada Health Accord

The Toronto Sun reports that, “New Democrats are calling on the feds to have MPs — not unelected Senators — review the Canada Health Accord. The agreement, signed in 2004 by then-prime minister Paul Martin to provide guaranteed federal funding to the provinces for health care, expires in 2014. Earlier this year, the (Harper) government asked the Senate — instead of Parliament’s health committee — to undertake the mandatory review of the accord.”

“NDP health critic Megan Leslie said Monday the federal government has dropped the ball on health care and is shirking its responsibility to provide leadership in the upcoming negotiations with the provinces and territories. ‘With 2014 just around the corner, we really need to start thinking about the accord under the Canada Health Act, because in 2014 it comes up for renegotiation,’ Leslie said. ‘We have a huge question in front of us. In 2014, are we going to have the status quo? In 2014, will medicare be fighting for its life, or in 2014, will we re-imagine and re-envision health care as we know it? We have seen a profound lack of leadership when it comes to health care in Canada,’ she added. ‘Now, they’ve asked an unaccountable and unelected Senate to review the Canada Health Accord, instead of the democratically elected representatives of the House.'”

“Government House leader John Baird recently defended the government’s decision to get the Senate involved. ‘The House health committee of elected representatives is certainly free to look into any matter it wishes. We have a minority on that committee,’ Baird said, hinting the Conservatives can’t force the committee to do anything.”

The Toronto Sun article is at http://www.torontosun.com/news/canada/2011/03/07/17524701.html.

On March 3, a media release noted that, “Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) president Judith Shamian and Nursing Association of New Brunswick (NANB) president Martha Vickers announced today that their organizations will join forces to press for changes to Canada’s health system. ‘Proponents of for-profit health care are telling Canadians that our health system is unsustainable and that more privatization is the answer. Nurses don’t buy either of these claims,’ said Shamian, who is on a cross-country tour to engage nurses, other health-care providers and government decision-makers in a national dialogue on the future of Canada’s health system. …In meetings with officials from the New Brunswick Health ministry, Shamian stressed the need for the province to take the nursing community’s recommendations to the table in upcoming federal/provincial negotiations for the 2014 Canada health accord. ‘The nursing community sees the accord as an opportunity for governments at all levels to look at health care differently and tackle the root causes of what ails health care instead of merely treating the symptoms.'”

The CNA media release is at http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/March2011/03/c7809.html.

Photo: Megan Leslie, federal NDP health critic, http://webinfo.parl.gc.ca/MembersOfParliament/ProfileMP.aspx?Key=128555&Language=E