Ottawa — One year after the Canada Health Accord expired, the Council of Canadians will be me marking this shameful date by participating in a National Day of Action for a New Health Accord. With nearly 50 rallies across Canada and actions in each province, Canadians are expressing their desire to protect health care and to make it a defining issue in the next federal election.
The health accord is a legal agreement between the federal and provincial/territorial governments that ensures stable, multi-year health care funding while demanding accountability on wait times and other goals.
“The federal government continues to ignore calls by the provinces, territories and citizens across this country to negotiate a new health accord,” says Michael Butler, health campaigner for the Council of Canadians. “Canada is facing an important next step in our medicare history. Canadians of all walks of life are letting the federal government know that they stand for medicare, demand a new health accord, and will be voting for better health care in 2015.”
The Harper government cut $36 billion 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 reduced health care funding by $987 million. Without a health accord, there are no longer national standards, leading to uneven service provision across provinces and territories.
“Canadians need to protect our universal, public health care system. That’s how we can make sure all Canadians receive quality health care. Yet the Harper government is attacking health care, creating a divide between health care haves and have-nots,” says Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians.
When a lack of funding leads to deteriorating conditions in the public system, governments use this as a pretext for privatization, in violation of medicare’s founding principles.
“This is not the kind of Canada we want, where the type of care you receive will depend on where you live and your ability to pay,” adds Barlow. “The Harper government has walked away from its responsibility to health care, cowardly sneaking in billions of dollars in cuts that only come into effect after the election. We call on all opposition parties to make a clear promise to protect, strengthen and expand our public health care and negotiate a new health accord.”
Last year, the Council of Canadians held 16 town halls across Canada as part of the Save Our Healthcare Tour, a campaign to protect, strengthen and expand public health care.