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From Summer 2017 Edition
Health advocates tell Premiers: Stand up for public health care!
Health care advocates from across the country gathered in Edmonton on July 19, 2017 at a rally outside the Hotel Macdonald where Canada's Premiers were meeting. They called on the Premiers to fight for patients and to call for fair federal funding for health care.
“In the 2015 election, the Trudeau Government promised to provide collaborative federal leadership while negotiating a new Health Accord with provinces and territories,” said Adrienne Silnicki, National Director, Policy and Advocacy, Canadian Health Coalition (CHC). “But instead the Federal Government split apart the provinces and territories and made bilateral agreements that will amount to a $33 billion cut over 10 years. The bilateral deals ignore the need for national standards, to create national pharmacare, take action on a national seniors strategy, and do a better job enforcing the Canada Health Act to stop unlawful billing by private clinics.”
CHC assesses the effects of the bilateral health deals
2014 marked the end of the Health Accord, a 10-year agreement between the Federal government with the provinces and territories to provide stable, predictable, and targeted funding for public health care. Last December, the federal government abandoned a national health accord negotiation and switched to signing bilateral health deals with individual provinces and territories.
These deals will not fund public health care at the necessary levels to maintain today's basket of services. The premiers of the provinces and territories have spoken out against them saying they felt pressure to sign-on even though they knew it was a bad deal. The text of these deals is still not public, but we do know that all provinces (except Manitoba) have accepted federal money for health care that is tied to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with a floor of three per cent. It means that when Canada's economic situation improves we have more money for public health care, but when our economy worsens and people rely more on public health care, we have less money to provide services.
Using media reports and provincial government news releases the CHC has put together what has been publicly announced in each deal, crunched the numbers and translated the amount of money into services. We expect that provinces will resort to contracting out and privatizing more public health care services to make up for the cuts.
Private clinics report
In June, the Ontario Health Coalition found evidence that at least 88 clinics in six provinces are charging extra user-fees to patients. These extra user-fees amount to hundreds or even thousands of dollars per patient, are threatening access to health care and hurting patients across Canada. Under the Canada Health Act such user-fees are forbidden, but the federal and provincial governments are currently doing too little to stop them.This important issue received considerable media coverage this summer, including on CBC, in the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star. The report, “Private Clinics and the Threat to Public Medicare in Canada” can be read here.
In response to this new evidence, Health Coalitions across Canada called for:
1. Federal and provincial governments to recommit themselves to the Canada Health Act and the values of equity and compassion upon which it is based. The federal government must uphold the Canada Health Act, stop illegal user-fees for patients, and impose penalties on provinces that fail to protect their residents.
2. The privatization of public and non-profit hospital services to be stopped. Capacity must be built in our public hospitals and services that have been cut and shed from public hospitals must be restored.
3. Governments at both levels to engage in sound planning to build public hospital capacity to reduce wait lists and to act to improve equity and access.
4. The Federal government to reverse funding cuts imposed in the recent bilateral funding deals with provinces and territories, and to provide a Canada Health Transfer of at least 5.2% as recommended by the Parliamentary Budget Office, the Conference Board of Canada, the Ontario Accountability Office and Health Coalitions across Canada.
5. Governments at all levels to protect public health care from international trade agreements through a general carve out for all health care services.
Call for a national pharmacare program this Labour Day!
The theme of this year’s labour day activities across the country will be a national public drug plan for all. Canada is the only country in the world with a universal public health care system that doesn't include access to prescription medication. This leaves 1 in 10 Canadians unable to afford prescribed medications. A national drug plan must be public, universal and safe providing everyone with the medications they need. We encourage you to attend events in your community to show your support for pharmacare.
Campaigning on the road!
The CHC has had a busy couple of months traveling across the country, meeting with our health coalitions’ colleagues and public health care supporters. We are grateful for the wonderful support we receive everywhere. It is inspiring to meet so many dynamic and interested public health care advocates!
We facilitated two education sessions at the Biennial Convention of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions in Calgary, held a table at the Canadian Labour Congress’s convention in Toronto, spoke to health care workers about public healthcare at the Unifor Health Committee meeting in Port Elgin, ON, met with Canadian Blood Services (CBS) workers in Winnipeg, testified at CBS’s board meeting in Edmonton, presented to members of the Association of Canadian Retired Teachers in Ottawa, and more.
We have some more travels planned for the next couple of months including to Friends of Medicare’s Conference on universal prescription drug coverage, the Health Ministers’ meeting in Edmonton, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) National Convention in Toronto, the Union of National Employees (UNE) 2017 Convention in Ottawa, Consumers 150 in Ottawa, and more.
Manitoba Health Coalition
We have been working on the building of a Manitoba Health Coalition. While the CHC works at the national level, there are health coalitions in every province but Manitoba and Yukon. They organize rallies, town halls, speaking tours, and campaigns to protect public health care and call for its expansion into new national areas like a seniors care plan and a national public drug plan.The CHC has been working with local stakeholders to build such an organization in the province. A meeting with community organizations is expected at the end of August in Winnipeg.
Support our work with a summer donation!
The CHC’s ability to advocate for public health care in Canada is a direct result of your generous financial support. Please consider a one-time or amonthly donation to show your support for our work to defend and expand public health care. Please note that due to our strong and successful advocacy work, government rules do not allow us to issue tax receipts.