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Harper promises on health funding fall short -- But how about those Liberals?

Premier McGuinty has called for a ten year deal on federal health care funding.

Right now, the federal government provides more than $10 billion through the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) for public health care in Ontario.  That is a lot of cash, almost a quarter of total provincial government health care spending.

Under the existing ten year agreement with the provinces, originally negotiated in 2004, federal government increases added over $800 million in new health care funding for the province of Ontario this year alone.  But the accord runs out in 2014 and the Harper Conservatives  failed to make any solid commitment to continue to increase the CHT prior to the election call.  In fact., they did not even mention the CHT in their party program.

The end of the current CHT "escalator" would be a devastating blow to public health care.

Thankfully, the election campaign has forced the Conservatives to change this line and promise to increase federal health care funding at the same rate -- sort of.

As it stands, the outgoing Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty only promised two more years of increased funding.  But what happens after that  is anyone's guess.  So McGuinty's call for a ten-year deal is very much to the point.

Notably, however, the increases in health care spending the McGuinty government has delivered over the last two years fall far short of the increases in federal health care funding.  And the increases the McGuinty government projects for the future fall shorter still.

I might add that the federal Liberals also failed to put CHT increases into their election program.  That's a pretty major omission.

And even Michael Ignatieff's new letter on health care (that attacks Harper for falling short on the the CHT) only promises to maintain the CHT escalator "beyond 2014".

That's about as vague as Flaherty's commitment.  And it falls far short of a promise of a ten-year deal, as called for by McGuinty on April 15th.

For more on Stephen Harper's long standing attacks on public health care see Murray Dobbin's new article on or Tom Walkom's piece in today's Star.  


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