Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Future Of Medicare


Boosting the Canada Pension Plan is on the election radar. But we haven't heard a word about medicare. And, Murray Dobbins writes, there are several vultures circling that program. B.C. doctor Brian Day has launched a constitutional challenge to medicare, which would allow medicare corporations to compete with publicly funded medicare.

Then there are the investor dispute mechanisms in all of Stephen Harper's free trade deals:

The flurry of corporate rights agreements being pursued by the Harper government are also a threat to the viability of medicare. The Canada-EU deal, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), will immediately add at least $2 billion to drug costs in this country. The 51-country Trade In Services Agreement (TISA) now being negotiated in secret, threatens to apply the deregulatory imperative of investment agreements explicitly to services -- including health care. As Public Services International (PSI) has pointed out, TISA "would restrict governments' ability to regulate, purchase and provide services. This would essentially change the regulation of many public services from serving the public interest to serving the profit interests of private, foreign corporations."

But the biggest vulture of all is Stephen Harper himself:

Harper hates medicare more than any other aspect of Canadian governance and democracy. He actually quit politics in the late '90s to become the head of the viciously right-wing National Citizens Coalition -- an organization founded in the early 1970s explicitly to fight medicare.

Until 2014, medicare in Canada received federal funding through a 10-year (legally binding) accord negotiated by the provinces and the federal government, providing provinces with a 6-per-cent increase every year. But what is in place now is a 10-year funding formula imposed by Harper on the provinces with virtually no consultation. Its increase per year is just 3 per cent -- which means a loss of $36 billion over the 10 years. It is classic Harper -- make a structural change whose bite is worse and worse as years go by. The underfunding systematically pushes provinces to cut and privatize.

Harper has abandoned all federal oversight or guardianship. There are no strings attached to the money. And the equalization aspect of the former accord is also gone, meaning increasingly unequal health care across the country and an erosion of the principle of universality. Lastly, the current funding formula not only brings the funding contribution of Ottawa to a record low 19 per cent; it is not legally binding and if Harper wins the election he could unilaterally chop billions from medicare any time he chooses.

Even if CPP contributions are increased for everyone, they would never cover the costs of private medical care. And Mr. Harper is focused on returning this country to the good old days -- when all medicare was private.

One quick note: We'll be away in Ottawa tomorrow. But I'll be back on Monday.


Toby said...

Owen, back when Harper took over the Reform Party I was warning people that he would go after Medicare. I often cited his record with the NCC. I was regularly accused of paranoia and told that Harper wouldn't destroy Medicare, that the Canadian people wouldn't let him. Well, the Canadian people are sleep walking.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

Neo-Liberalism at it's finest Owen. I have yet to hear the MSM media even utter the word.

thwap said...

One would have to be a complete idiot/monster to oppose our single-payer health insurance system.

Mogs Moglio said...

Harper hates anything Canadian odd duck he is indeed. He is dangerous and could be arrested under his new bill C-51 for terrorism. He terrorizes the Elderly the sick the poor the Veterans the Postal Workers Public Servants The Courts Scientists Lawyers Canadians. Mexico and Michigan however are leaving us in the dust in the Auto Manufacturing industry. This must please Herr Harper he wants to punish us.

Ya he [Harper] is creating jobs alright but not in Canada. Yet as of April First he had already spent $528 million bombing Syria and Iraq, the man has lost his marbles...

Okay already how much does the US charge for an airborne refueling from one of its KC-135 Stratotankers? More than it costs to fill up my car. Harper you are one foolish persona.

Enjoy Ottawa Owen it is beautiful there this time of year :)


Owen Gray said...

Ottawa was beautiful, Mogs. We were at an outdoor wedding and Mother Nature cooperated nicely. It was a terrific weekend.

Owen Gray said...

That's the key to his success. Toby. As long as Canadians sleep, he can accomplish a lot in the dark.

Owen Gray said...

That's the key to his success. Toby. As long as Canadians sleep, he can accomplish a lot in the dark.

Owen Gray said...

If the media had done its job -- and examined what Harper said and compared his claims with the evidence -- we would have had a different prime minister during the last decade, Pam.