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Canada’s public health care future in jeopardy
The future of public health care in Canada is in serious jeopardy. A health care crisis is looming because of decisions being made by the federal government. Unfortunately, this looming crisis is flying below the radar. Few seem to pay attention to what will bring an end to public health care as we know it today.
In a world where we seem to be moving from one crisis to the next, it seems the public has become desensitized to issues that are not affecting them in the here and now. Decisions being made today will lead to a gradual deterioration of Canada’s public health care system. If the Canadian public allows the federal government to continue on its current path our health care system will become vulnerable to things like for-profit medical services or a multi-tiered health system this is defined by a person’s ability to pay.
Canada is facing an important next step in our medicare history. In 2014, the current health care accord deal that sets funding and health care service delivery agreements between the federal and provincial and territorial governments expires and must be renegotiated. The federal government is ignoring the calls of the provinces and territories to work on a deal, and shockingly announced $36 billion worth of health care cuts which will come into effect after the next federal election in 2015. The provinces and territories will thus be forced to reduce health services, increase taxes, and/or privatize services; health care will vary widely across the country.
In December 2011, the federal government unilaterally announced a withdrawal from anything but a reduced financing role: in 2017 the transfer of health care funds will be cut from the current annual six per cent increase to a percentage pegged to the GDP, with a guarantee base of three per cent.
This is a time of an aging population and an increasing demand for health care services; unless transfer funding is stable and certain our cherished public health care system is in danger. Unless a new health accord is re-negotiated to establish community health centres and to include universal home and palliative care, health services cost will continue to skyrocket; and elderly Canadians will continue to suffer, facing the end of their lives in unfamiliar environments while society pays billions for their care.
More than 94 per cent of Canadians believe health care is a core social right, a symbol of Canada as a compassionate and caring society. Canadians want governments to work together to share information about how to best deliver public heath care and to ensure that every Canadian has equal access to quality care provide by a national, public system. The federal, provincial, and territorial governments need to negotiate a new health accord that protects and strengthens our universal public health care system. Our elected representatives need to advocate for a new accord and stop the federal government from undermining our health care system by refusing to come back to the bargaining table. Each of us needs to stand up and demand the federal government negotiate with the premiers to ensure every Canadian has access to quality health care services as needed.