Money for Health Care Missing from the 2016 Federal Budget
For Immediate Release, Ottawa, Ontario: The Canadian Health Coalition is concerned about the lack of resources earmarked for health care especially ahead of a new Health Accord. Budget 2016 announced that the “Government is committed to working in partnership with provinces and territories to negotiate a new multi-year health accord” but it doesn’t offer a budget line for these items and it leaves the government projections at the same level as the Conservatives’ $36 billion reduction in health transfers.
“While the Liberal government notes that it wants to ‘enhance the affordability and accessibility of prescription drugs, improve access to home care and mental health services, and support pan-Canadian innovation in the delivery of health services’, all of which could be good things, I’m curious as to where the money is going to come from? Improvements to health care and service delivery, and creating new national programmes like a public drug plan will at least have initial start up costs”, said Adrienne Silnicki, National Coordinator, Canadian Health Coalition. “If the Liberal Government is serious about improving public health care for all, they need to put some money into it. We’re pleased to hear they’ll continue to work with the provinces and territories but in order to protect, strengthen and expand our public health care system we need financial investments to make that happen.”
In addition to providing the necessary funding to create new programmes and improve service delivery, federal dollars transferred to the provinces and territories for health care is one of the only mechanisms the federal government has to enforce the Canada Health Act and ensure the provinces and territories abide by its principles and criteria. Less of a Federal financial stake in health care reduces the impact of the Government’s threat of withholding transfer payments if a province or territory violates the Act.
“We’re witnessing violations of the Canada Health Act across the country. Patients are being charged illegal user fees and their being billed for medically necessary services. To stop these unlawful acts and protect Medicare, the federal government must have a strong financial stake. It’s disappointing to see that they didn’t take this opportunity to show Canadians that they’re serious about protecting and improving public health care,” said Silnicki.