TORONTO – The federal government once again abandoned one of Canadians’ top concerns in today’s 2014 budget by ignoring health care, and creating inequality between provinces.
“The 2014 Health Accord will expire next month, and yet we’ve heard nothing about how this government plans to ensure that there are national standards for health care in Canada,” said Dr. Monika Dutt, chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare. “Instead, health care transfers will be disproportionately distributed between provinces, creating have and have-not provinces when it comes to health care.”
The government claims to be increasing transfers to provinces, but under a new funding formula for transfers, all provinces except Alberta will receive less than they have over the past 10 years.
Canadian Doctors for Medicare submitted to federal pre-budget consultations last August, calling on the government to renew the Health Accord, implement a pharmacare program, and take a leading role in innovation.
Canada is the only country with a universal health care program that does not include pharmaceuticals. A pharmacare program could reduce drug costs by up to $10 billion and keep people out of hospital – currently, 1 in 10 Canadians don’t take their medications due to cost, and that’s 1 in 4 if they don’t have private insurance.
CDM also called for the federal government to lead the way on scaling up successful innovations that reduce wait times and improve care across the country. For example, the federal government could work to scale up the wait times innovation accomplished by the Bone and Joint Institute of Alberta that reduced waits for hip and knee surgeries from 82 weeks to 11 weeks, or the eConsultation project in Ottawa that reduced waits to see a specialist from 3.5 months to just one week through secure online consulting.
“People in Canada want to know what happened to the goals this country set with the Health Accord back in 2004, and what happened to a fair distribution of transfers,” said Dr. Dutt. “Are we simply going to stop trying to do better as a nation when it comes to progress on wait times, building a national pharmacare strategy, or connecting people to the home care they need?”
For more information:
Alissa Von Bargen, Canadian Doctors for Medicare