New health accord needed

"The federal NDP is organizing public consultations on the future of free, universal health care in our country"

In November I held an MP Forum in Princeton, Keremeos and Osoyoos.  The main concern in Princeton was health care and the loss of 24 hour emergency service at the hospital.

It might be interesting for people to know that the federal NDP is organizing public consultations on the future of free, universal health care in our country.  The consultations will focus on four priority areas: improving access to prescription medication, home and long-term care services, the role of health care professionals and how to assist all Canadians in leading a healthier life.

As NDP Health critic Libby Davies stated, “We can to work together with Canadians, health care professionals and the provincial and territorial governments to determine what changes are needed to adapt our health care system to the 21st century.”

I hope to get Libby to our area in the new year as part of her Canadian tour.

At the Princeton forum, Ed Staples, Vice-President of the Save Our Hospital Coalition gave an excellent overview of health care in Canada as part of his presentation.

The following is part of what he said: “The founding principle of health care in Canada is equality. This principle gave us the Canada Health Act which provides for equal access to quality health care regardless of who you are, where you live, or how much money you make. Unfortunately, this principle is under attack at both the provincial and federal level. These attacks come in the form of budget cuts justified by the alarmist message that health care costs are unsustainable.

Sustainability rationale is a myth. As a percentage of Canada’s Gross Domestic Product, health care spending has remained steady at between 4 and 5 per cent since 1975.

In solidarity with the BC Health Coalition, Princeton Save Our Hospital Coalition opposes any erosion of the Canada Health Act’s principles of universality, comprehensiveness, portability, accessibility, and public administration. We are against user fees, privatization, corporatization, and any other barriers to equal access to health care.

In 2004, federal and provincial first ministers signed a ten-year Canada Health Accord, identifying several priorities for health care reform in Canada, including:

• reducing wait times and improving access;

• home care;

• primary health care reform, including electronic health records

• health research and innovation; and

• accountability and reporting to citizens

We need all provincial, territorial, and federal health ministers to create a new Canada Health Accord that first and foremost recognizes the values of equality and equity of health care for all Canadians. Public health care is affordable and sustainable. It is privatization that we can’t afford.

According to the BC Health Coalition, renewal of the Health Accord in 2014 must be based on predictable, sustainable federal funding that includes a six percent escalator for a full ten years. Commitment to a federally financed Canada Health Transfer equalization formula will ensure we continue to build a fair, accountable and cost effective public health care system that provides high quality care.”

Unfortunately, the federal government has made it clear that they will not be taking these steps unless Canadians demand that they do.”

Alex Atamanenko is the MP
for BC Southern Interior