Last week, the Advisory Panel On Healthcare Innovation was supposed to release its report at a scheduled news conference. Jeffrey Simpson writes:
The day before the news conference, however, the PMO cancelled it and decided to release the report without notice on the Health Canada website on July 17. Just as the PMO hoped, the report received little attention.Health Minister Rona Ambrose, who was to have spoken about the report, was gagged. The posting on her department’s website was timed so that it appeared only after the provincial premiers had finished their final news conference in St. John’s, in case the report gave any or all of them ammunition to embarrass the federal government. Such is the way this government works.
As with everything else, when the news is not what the government wants, it buries it. In this case:
The panel’s mandate read that recommendations “must not imply either an increase or a decrease in the overall level of federal funding for current initiatives supporting innovation in health care.”The Naylor panel ignored the mandate, explaining in its report that “although it was not an easy decision, we did not follow this guidance.” Later, it warned that “absent federal action and investment, and absent political resolve on the part of provinces and territories, Canada’s health-care systems are headed for continued slow decline in performance relative to peers.”To that end, the panel recommends creating a Health Innovation Fund with a $1-billion yearly budget to invest in changes to the health-care system in conjunction with willing provinces and health-care institutions.
An extra one billion dollars a year for a government obsessed with balancing the budget? That news couldn't hit the fan:
For 2017-18, the federal government has announced it will reduce the increase in Ottawa’s annual health-care transfer to the provinces from 6 per cent to something in the range of 3 per cent to 3.5 per cent, depending on economic growth. The provinces would likely not appreciate losing money from Ottawa with one hand, and then getting some, but only some, of it back through the Innovation Fund.The Harper government was hoping for change-on-the-cheap from the panel: innovation that would cost nothing but improve the system. It certainly has no interest in an expanded, direct federal role in health care, having made it abundantly clear that health care is for the provinces, except for Ottawa’s responsibility for aboriginal and veterans’ health, public health and drug approvals.
The man who used to run the National Citizens Coalition -- which was founded specifically to oppose public medical care -- did not approve.
So, what else is new?