I am writing today in response to the editorial on the Senate and health care leadership in Saturday August 17’s edition of The Guardian.
During his recent visit to P.E.I., Tom Mulcair, Leader of the Official Opposition, spoke about the importance of maintaining four federal MPs from P.E.I. in Ottawa. To suggest that P.E.I. is well represented by having four Senators from P.E.I. is nothing short of insulting.
Instead of fear mongering, let's do a fact check. The Senate will cost Canadians almost $93 million this year, or the equivalent of taxes for over 8,000 families. This is an outrageous cost for a Senate that sits for three months out of 12 and has an average work term of just 71 days. In fact, 31 Senators missed a quarter of that hectic schedule last year. To put the costs of the Senate in perspective, our much-maligned provincial finance minister would be able to balance the P.E.I. budget for 2013 with $93 million.
The second point made in "Some weekend thoughts" (The Guardian, Aug 17) regarding the premier's leadership on health care is equally obscured. He has shown little or no leadership in his own province as our health care budget balloons out of control at over $580 million per year and all that to manage the worst system in the country according to the Conference Board of Canada.
P.E.I. has the worst food insecurity rates in Canada, has shown zero aptitude to address the social determinants of health (affordable housing, nutrition and physical activity) while maintaining alarming rates of cancer.
As our premier continues to ignore the health of each and every Islander by refusing to address recurring fish kills and maintaining the status quo of no action on cosmetic pesticides, P.E.I. maintains its place as the second last province in Canada to introduce a catastrophic drug plan. Incidentally, there isn't any funding for this much needed drug plan, so government is now scrambling to cut some $10 million from the health care departments. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is hardly a sustainable solution.
Mr. Mulcair did make two very important statements while on his visit to our Island. Firstly, he would return the transfer payments for health care to where they are supposed to be - at 50 per cent - as outlined when Medicare was introduced. Secondly, that the federal NDP will be putting all their collective resources behind the NDP P.E.I. in order to elect some NDP MLAs in the next provincial election. It is clear that P.E.I. matters in Ottawa as Mr. Mulcair commits to maintaining four P.E.I. MPs in his policy on Senate abolition. P.E.I. will still have a strong a voice in Ottawa, even without a Senate.
Poor leadership on health or Senate abolition results from making short-term changes. We need to look through a longer lens - 10 to 20 years - so that we can be certain that the legacy we leave our children and grandchildren is something we may be proud of.
Abolishing the Senate will not be easy, however it is the right thing to do. Rarely is the right thing the easiest.
Let's stick to the facts. It is an insult to be misled and lied to. You've got to ask yourself why they want a Senate so badly if it’s truly good for Canadians? It is a nice soft landing for many defeated politicians during extremely hard economic times. It’s time to face facts and numbers and adapt to a reality whereby selected Canadians do not benefit from their Senate seats.
Despite efforts to glorify the role of Premier Ghiz with the Council of the Federation on health, Islanders and national ranking reports alike have come to the same clear conclusion. After six and a half years in power the Ghiz government has given the Islanders the most inefficient and least effective health care system in Canada.
The NDP P.E.I., with the full support of the New Democratic Party of Canada, is working to elect both provincial MLAs and federal MPs. It is our duty to challenge and replace the Conservative government in Ottawa. Just as importantly it is the duty of the NDP P.E.I. to challenge and replace the Liberal government in Charlottetown.
Thank you for this opportunity to respond to your editorial commentary of August 17.
Leader, NDP P.E.I.