The Globe and Mail reports, “(Canada’s premiers) are collaborating on (the development of) a pan-Canadian health-care strategy. It comes in the wake of the federal government’s no-strings funding formula for health care, one that leaves it up to the provinces to shape social policy. …It’s an ambitious agenda for a country where the provinces have autonomy over health care and where premiers are not used to co-operating on developing social policies. But with health-care costs consuming a growing chunk of program spending in every region, the premiers are under pressure to tackle reforms as a group.”
“Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and Prince Edward Island Premier Robert Ghiz will lead a two-day meeting of provincial and territorial health ministers beginning Thursday evening in Toronto. …Mr. Wall and Mr. Ghiz plan to submit a report to their provincial colleagues at the premiers’ annual meeting in July.”
“As co-chairs of a working group on health-care innovation, Mr. Wall and Mr. Ghiz will look at everything from how many doctors and nurses should graduate each year to adopting the best clinical practices across Canada. …The working group is focusing on such areas as making greater use of nurse practitioners. Policy makers believe nurse practitioners can improve access to care and reduce costs by doing work that was once done solely by physicians. …The group is also looking at speeding up the development and adoption of the best clinical and surgical guidelines so that all Canadians benefit from up-to-date practices.”
“The initiative takes the premiers into unchartered waters, but they are filling a void left by the federal government, said CMA president John Haggie. ‘The CMA really do feel the feds have walked away here and abandoned health, and it’s the premiers who have opted to try and step up and provide a national framework,’ Dr. Haggie said.”
The Council of Canadians has argued that while the Harper government promises to maintain health care increases of 6 per cent for the next five years to the provinces (until after the October 2015 federal election), their intention is then to drop those increases and tie them to GDP – which would cost the provinces approximately $31 billion over the period of a new 10-year accord. Parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page says that if the funding formula stays in place beyond 2024, the federal share of health care spending would fall from its current 20.4 per cent, to 13.8 per cent by 2052, and 11.9 per cent by 2072.
We believe the Canada Health Act must be enforced to stop private health care services; the federal government must commit to a 10-year health transfer plan that would see at least a six per cent increase in funding annually throughout the duration of the accord; public health care must be broadened to include pharmacare, continuing care, dental care, mental health services and strengthen Aboriginal health; and that there should be a single omnibus health care accord, not bilateral deals with the provinces.
The purpose of the Council of the Federation, referred to as the premiers’ annual meeting in the news story above, is to provide a united front among the provincial and territorial governments when interacting with the federal government. The Council of Canadians was present at their January meeting in Victoria, and we will be visibly present again to make our demands at their summer meeting – this July 25-27 in Halifax.