8/27/11

Docs unwisely demand a federal funding deal ASAP

Contrary to a demand from the leader of Canadian doctors, the federal Conservative government is in no hurry to start negotiations for a new  federal-provincial health care funding accord.  

Fair enough: very few governments would want to ink up a deal that commits them to long term funding increases if the economy is in the doldrums.

From the point of view of advocates of public health care this also makes sense: it's going to be tough sledding to get a deal with the needed long term funding increases if the economy is tanking.   Also, getting a deal closer to the next  federal election will encourage the Tories to actually think of what the public might want -- and that will encourage them to spend on public health care.  

During the past election, the federal Conservatives were forced to promise that they would continue the 6% increases for health care for at least two years after the current funding accord expires in the spring of 2014.  But for how long, and under what conditions remains unclear.  Helpfully, the Ontario government has proposed a ten year deal with the current 6% escalator. 

Other (good) news: the federal Tory Health Minister says she wants one health care deal with all the provinces.  There was some speculation earlier that they would make separate deals with separate provinces. Without one deal, country-wide standards go up in smoke.  And with that, the principles of the Canada Health Act: a universal, accessible, comprehensive, portable, and publicly administered health care system across the land.

Of course, we also need a federal government willing to enforce CHA principles, but we will have to deal with that another day...

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