Canadian provincial leaders united on health care costs

Canadian provincial leaders united on health care costs

Lunenburg : Canada | Jul 29, 2012 at 7:14 AM PDT
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Canadian Health Care

While a National Energy Strategy showed strong division between the Premiers of British Columbia and Alberta, Canada's provincial leaders are united in their opposition to the federal governments new funding scheme. The Premiers say that the formula would cost them $36 Billion in transfer payments over ten years.

Under the Canada Health Act, the federal government mandates minimum services that must be provided, while the provinces execute the delivery of health care.

The federal government recently announced a new funding formula, which would increase federal funding by 6% through to 2017 and then the increase would be tied to economic growth plus 1%, but never less than 3%. The new funding scheme was introduced by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty without prior consultation with the provinces.

According to the Premiers the change in funding formula reduces Ottawa's share to the health care pie to less than 20%.

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger (New Democrat), who released the figures on Friday said that this would have a very significant impact on the Provinces and that the Provinces were committed to the notion of co-operative federalism, where these issues should be discussed, since the impact will mean less money for nurses and doctors.

The Premiers also said that Canadians should expect the same standard of health care across the country. To cut costs Premier Brad Wall of Saskatchwan released a report on Thursday that recommends for the provinces to buy bulk generic drugs in a bid to cut soaring health-care costs and to standardize certain clinical practice guidelines.

A working group, which was formed after the Premiers meeting in January, has looked at soaring costs and impacts of federal funding. The group examined the issues under the principal that no province should be worse off and that Canadians should have the ability to have a comparable level of service wherever they live in the country.

The new federal funding formula affects every Province differently. Unilateral change, without consultation with the Provinces fails to acknowledge that the Provinces are the experts on health care delivery and its related costs. To this end it is imperaitive the both the federal finance and health ministers sit down with their provincial counterparts to develop a workable and sustainable solution.

Cutting the federal budget and deficit is a novel goal, but it shouldn't be done on the back of Canada's Health Care delivery. Costs can be expected to escalate as baby boomer retire and the federal government must take that into consideration in any new funding scheme.

Politicians should realize that health care, not the economy, is the number one issue for Canadians.

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Canadian Premiers are critical of Ottawa's new health care funding formula
Karl Gotthardt is based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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