In today's Toronto Star, Natalie Mehra and Michael McBane warn that the Harper government is taking aim at Medicare. For the system to work, the prime minister needs to meet with his provincial counterparts. However,
This summer’s gathering of the premiers marks the final Council of the Federation meeting before 2014, when the National Health Accord expires. Penned in 2004, the 10-year health accord set priorities to improve access to health care and established a new funding formula.
The meetings do not include the federal government and Prime Minister Stephen Harper will not be in Niagara. What many Canadians do not realize is that there are no first ministers’ gatherings of all the premiers and the prime minister anymore. Harper refuses to attend them.
Even more importantly, Harper has refused to talk about two cornerstones of an evolving medicare program:
In 2004 the provinces, territories and federal government established a National Pharmaceutical Strategy. Finally, progress was promised toward a national drug coverage program that would actually cut overall drug costs through bulk buying and better co-ordination. But since their election, the Harper Conservative government has refused to participate in this committee, effectively killing the dream of national drug coverage and stalling progress on reducing drug prices for the better part of the last decade.
In 2004, out of the health accord discussions, the provinces and federal government also began work to discuss home and continuing care. Progress on creating a national home and continuing care strategy is vital for more than a million Canadians who struggle with high out-of-pocket costs for post-hospital care.
Harper's antipathy to public healthcare is unmistakable. Mehra and McBane write:
In fact, the federal Conservative government’s antipathy to public medicare is becoming more and more overt. Not only has it walked away from the table on a national drug program and home care, it has also bluntly refused to meet with the provincial governments about renewing the funding formula for health care. Instead, the federal government plans to reduce funding from current projections by $36 billion in upcoming years, reversing the gains made in the health accord. In the latest budget, the government cut the Health Council of Canada as well as health services for veterans and refugees. The federal health minister has done nothing to implement the National Mental Health Strategy and has taken no action to uphold single-tier medicare in the face of private clinics extra-billing patients in provinces like British Columbia.
Mr. Harper is a one man wrecking ball. He was absolutely serious when he declared that we wouldn't recognize Canada when he was through with it. He, quite literally, is a hazard to your health.