Editor: This week from December 2 to 7 the Canadian Health Coalition celebrates National Medicare Week. This should be a very special week for Canadians to celebrate and recommit us to our marvelous system of public health care. There are forces that want to replace this system with a private, for-profit system arguing that the public system is not sustainable. Nothing could be further from the truth. This year there is a special emphasis on seniors care and the need for a Continuing Care Plan that integrates home, facility-based long-term care, respite and palliative care.
Among the current threats to our public system, none is more serious than the federal government’s refusal to renew the 2004 Health Accord which has a six percent escalator to assure that provinces can cover their costs. Instead, the federal government is proposing a three percent escalator, a $36-billion cut over 10 years beginning in 2017. This proposal will cost P.E.I. $144 million. Add to that a further cut of $16.5 billion in transfers to the provinces over the next five years and the numbers speak for themselves. It is hardly the time to cut funding. The accord made many improvements in the delivery of health care over the last 10 years but there are many ways in which the system needs improvements. The most effective means of doing this is to increase public funding.
Today, five Islanders will be part of a national lobby of members of Parliament in their Ottawa offices. They will be asking for federal leadership to negotiate a new 10-year Health Accord, as well as MP support for a full public national debate, including in Parliament, on the implications of the federal government’s lack of leadership in health care and its decision not to renew the 2004 Health Accord. Other items of concern include the negative impact CETE will have on health care by extending patents to European drug companies thereby escalating the cost of drugs anywhere from $850 million to $1.2 billion annually.
The P.E.I. Health Coalition will mark National Medicare Week with a gathering on the street in front of Gail Shea’s Charlottetown Office, 119 Kent St., at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, December 5. There will be speakers and an open microphone. The public is invited to attend.
Chair, P.E.I. Health Coalition