Healthcare, News

Canada Health Transfer Payments

I came across an article on the Canadian Health Transfer payment system in The Record. The more I read, learn and work in and around the healthcare system, the more I want to see it change. Our current system is not working and as the population continues to ‘grey’ even more change will be needed.

Starting next year in 2014,

“In the federal budget of 2007, Stephen Harper’s government announced that the health transfer would be allocated on a strict equal per capita basis beginning in 2014. What this means is that each province will receive a health transfer amount according to the size of its population, regardless of the income, demographic, geographic or other conditions of the province.”

“In theory, the health transfer should uphold the five criteria of the Canada Health Act: public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability and accessibility of health services — thereby encouraging a sense of common citizenship even if there are differences in how Medicare is managed and delivered across the provinces.”

This is a concern. A proposal by Gregory P. Marchildon and Haizhen Mou is: an alternative formula that adjusts for two health-care cost drivers over which provincial governments have no control: demographic aging and geographic dispersion. Those provinces and territories with both a more highly dispersed and an older population would receive more of the health transfer. Those that have a younger demographic or are more densely populated (urban) would get less.

I attended a staff development workshop this past week that focused on the trends in aging and technology. Richard Adler was the presenter. He is a great speaker that has passion, conviction, good ideas and he along with many others can identify the changes that are needed. Healthcare falls into this category. Canada has a good basic universal healthcare system, but each province and territory cannot meet the demands of their respective population. If the federal government is going to provide transfer payment bases solely on # of people living in each province or territory and not taking into account the age of the majority, geographic demographics of where many live-in urban area or rural, provinces and territories will have difficulty in best servicing its residents. That means the province or territory has to be creative in how best to provide services and may have to further tax its residents to provide a decent level of healthcare.

Now, I live in Quebec, which is one of the highest, if not highest taxed province. Quebec does offer pharmacare coverage for those that are older adults/seniors, low-income or do not have supplemental health insurance. There are yearly deductibles that must be met and the rate charged depends on one’s income bracket, but I believe it is the only province/territory to offer this. What does everyone else do to purchase/pay for medications in other provinces/territories?

The coverage or basic coverage should be the same in all provinces/territories and if one travels elsewhere in Canada-they should have the same coverage in the province they are visiting as the one they left temporarily.

What are you thoughts? What do you think of the suggestions by Marchildon and Mou? Do you have alternative suggestions or ideas? I would love to hear them……

By Victoria Brewster, MSW