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NEWS: A new Canada Health Accord unlikely

Globe and Mail reporter Andre Picard writes, “The Canada Health Transfer, which currently provides $27-billion in cash and $13.6-billion in tax points, expires in 2014.” And there are those who believe, “There won’t be a new health accord. …Instead of a long-term deal with all 13 provinces and territories, we can expect a short (two-year) extension of the current deal… (And) instead of an omnibus deal with all provinces and territories, …the new majority government (may) propose signing a series of bilateral agreements.”

Picard also notes, “For all the talk about coming negotiations on the health accord, the fact remains that Mr. Harper has never committed to a first ministers’ meeting on health.” He emphasizes, “There is no legal obligation to have a meeting, nor does there need to be a single agreement.”

Picard concludes, “This debate, coincidentally (or not), is in its infancy and should be revved up by 2016, the next federal election date, and after several provincial elections have brought in a new generation of premiers eager to do health care differently.”

The Globe and Mail reported in November 2010 that, “Canada’s provinces are bracing for a showdown with the Harper government as they approach the deadline for a new federal medicare-funding deal… The (federal) transfers are crucial because about 20 cents of every dollar the provinces spend on health care comes from Ottawa. They are slated to receive annual increases of 6 per cent until the Canada Health Transfer Program expires in fiscal 2013-14. …So far, the only public statement on the prospects for a new health-funding deal is a suggestion from Finance Minister (Jim Flaherty) of applying the brakes to spending increases. …Flaherty hinted in his annual economic update (in October 2010) that he wants to tie the increase in transfers to inflation and economic growth, both of which are projected to remain in the range of 0 to 2 per cent in coming years. The provinces, many of them deep in deficit, would be hard pressed to take up the slack without raising dedicated revenues or cutting into other social programs or money for schools and post-secondary education.”

The full article by Picard is at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/tories-set-to-steer-new-course-on-health-care-funding/article2038257/.