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Preventative Medicine: Rallying Today for the Future of Health Care

Citizens' group launches 3-year campaign to protect and extend medicare in 2014

by Ben Sichel

So far the Nova Scotia Citizens' Health Campaign has distributed over 1,000 window signs across the province, according to its blog.
So far the Nova Scotia Citizens' Health Campaign has distributed over 1,000 window signs across the province, according to its blog.

Act now, or watch publicly-funded health care creep away in three years.

That’s the message from a local citizens’ group launching a long-term campaign to “protect, strengthen and extend public health care” in Canada.

“2014 seems like a long time away,” acknowledges Kyle Buott, coordinator of the Nova Scotia Citizens’ Health Care Network. “But it will take 3 years to really build public pressure to get a good accord.”

2014 is when the current 10-year health care funding agreement between Ottawa and the provinces expires.

The current campaign is necessary since “the [federal] government is not committed to public health care. It refuses to commit to renewing long term funding” for health care, says Buott.

For Nova Scotians, this should be cause for concern “because so much [health care] funding is from the feds,” Buott says.

Indeed, according to Michelle Lucas, communications director at the provincial Department of Finance, 32% of Nova Scotia’s total revenues come from federal transfers and equalization payments.

Canadians have becomed accustomed in recent years to hearing reports of ballooning health care costs, and the purported need to cut health care spending. In Nova Scotia, 41% of total government expenses go toward health care, says Lucas, and that figure has risen steadily.

But these numbers call for some context, says Buott. “Health care spending as a share of GDP hasn’t increased in 40 years,” he says. “It just hasn’t been hacked away like every other department. This makes it look like it’s disproportionate compared to the rest of the budget.”

“If you restore [federal] corporate and personal tax rates to pre-2000 levels, before the Chrétien tax cuts, you’d be able to pay for every social program you can imagine,” he adds.

Instead of cutting health care, governments need to expand it to include a national Pharmacare program (which the Canada Health Coalition argues would actually save Canadians money through lower drug costs), as well as a Continuing Care program that would include “long-term, home, and palliative care,” says Buott.

As well, the health care system needs to be protected from privatization, and health care standards need to be strengthened to “ensure all Canadians receive the care they need, regardless of which province they live in,” says the Citizens’ Health Coalition website.

The Health Coalition has planned 3 pickets in Windsor, Kentville and Wolfville today, and one in Yarmouth on Thursday. The Coalition has 8 exisiting local committees around the province, along with “exploratory committees” in 13 other areas, according to its website.




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Topics: Health
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