Health funding changes classic downloading

Even Kiefer Sutherland is worried, and he’s American. The grandson of Tommy Douglas – father of our much beloved Canadian health care system – is voicing an ad for a group concerned about the expiration of our health accord. The clock officially ran out on the accord Monday, March 31.

Concern has hit closer to home, as well. A rally on Monday afternoon in Duncan drew a good crowd of Valley citizens who raised their voices in protest of the lack of action on the part of the federal government to renew health care’s binding promise between federal and provincial governments.

Canada’s universal health care system is one of the things a majority of our citizens is most proud of.

Support for its continuance crosses most political lines, and it is seen by many as a pillar of our Canadian identity.

Yet the federal Conservative government has allowed the health accord with the provinces, the deal that defines the national plan and provides a great deal of funding for it, to run out, with no apparent sense of urgency to renew or renegotiate. This seems irresponsible at best.

At the same time, the next federal budget eliminates equalization payments for health, which have ensured that levels of care across the country have remained comparable whether you are in a “have” or a “have not” province.

These are replaced by a per capita formula that will see most provinces lose out.

Per capita simply doesn’t make sense if the goal is to create universally good healthcare. Provinces such as the Maritimes with aging and shrinking populations can be in greater need of health care than a province such as Alberta with a growing and younger population. B.C. needs to look out, too, with our large population of seniors who demand plenty of health services as they age.

It’s classic downloading. The federal government “saves” billions of dollars, but that cost will now have to be bourne by the provinces if they want to keep their quality of care up. We certainly believe that people will demand it.

You can bet, however, that the “savings” will not be passed on to taxpayers so that we’ll have more to drop into the provincial coffers.

It is disturbing and extremely disrespectful that these massive changes are being made without any discussions to put a new accord into place.

This kind of unilateral action is clearly ideologically driven and threatens the core of our health system. Can it be long before the suggestion is made to allow more private, for profit care to take the “burden” (that they’ve created) off of the public system? This needs to stop now. Renew the health accord.