The Harper government plans to enter the 2015 election with a hefty surplus. But, Linda McQuaig writes, don't expect that money to be spent on health care:
Medicare, with its principles of equality and accessibility regardless of income, represents values that are the very antithesis of the marketplace but that apparently resonate with Canadians. As the Romanow commission on health care noted: “Canadians view medicare as a moral enterpise, not a business venture.”
But this clearly puts medicare at odds with Harper’s fierce anti-tax, pro-market views — views that led him to serve for four years as president of the National Citizens Coalition, the far-right advocacy group started in the 1960s by a militant opponent of public health insurance. In a 1997 speech to a right-wing U.S. organization, Harper showed his contempt for Canadian social programs — and the pride Canadians take in them — when he dismissed Canada as “a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it.”
In the Harperian universe it's every man and woman for himself. And, on the health care file, the prime minister has rapidly been moving towards that universe:
Waiting until he’d secured his majority, he announced plans in December 2011 that would effectively cut in half the rate of growth of federal health transfers to the provinces, starting in 2017 — amounting to an estimated cut of $36 billion over ten years.
The cuts — along the lines long advocated by the right — will dramatically shrink public funding for health care over time, forcing Canadians to pay more of their health care costs privately, on the grounds that the public system is unaffordable.
But there will be money for income splitting -- which will dispose of half the surplus -- and the money will go disproportionally to the wealthy. Then, because we appear to be going to war, military spending will go up.
Welcome to the Harperian Universe.