It is very unfortunate that health is not foremost in the minds of the federal government as it is the number #1 concern/priority according to Canadians!
In the coming year, the Canada Health Transfer, the tax money Ottawa gives the provinces for health, will reach $30.3-billion – about 15 per cent of total health spending, and it will grow by 6 per cent a year until 2017. Writing a cheque – or, in this case 13 cheques, one to each province and territory – is bookkeeping. It’s not leadership. Medicare covers all hospital and physician services, but not drugs, which are often essential to good care. It makes no sense and everyone knows it. All provinces have programs to make drugs available to those in need, like seniors, people on social assistance or with expensive health conditions. But the system lacks coherence, and the practical result is growing inequalities in access to health care across the country. Making essential drugs available to all Canadians is the kind of announcement that should be the centrepiece of a federal budget, the kind of move that creates a legacy.
What will it take for the federal government to get more involved? Healthcare needs will only continue to grow and strain an already overloaded healthcare system as the population continues to age. More needs to be done. Although it is up to each province and territory to implement healthcare services, guidance should come from the federal government. I for one am disappointed.
Victoria Brewster, MSW