23 Mar Federal Budget Offers No Help For Nova Scotia’s Underfunded Healthcare System
The 2017 Federal budget includes no significant new expenditures on healthcare and will implement former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s potentially catastrophic changes to the Canadian Health Transfer (CHT).
The CHT is the mechanism that the federal government uses to fund part of the cost of universal healthcare in Canada and is crucial in ensuring that Canadians across the country are able to access similar levels of care. 2017-2018 will mark the first year since 2004 that the transfer’s annual increase will be less than 6%. The 3% increase in the CHT announced today means that federal funding will not keep pace with the increased cost of delivering healthcare.
“The reduction in the Canada Health Transfer means that Nova Scotia’s public healthcare system will have to deliver services with tens of millions of dollars less than it would have under the old pattern,” said Chris Parsons, the Provincial Coordinator of the Nova Scotia Health Coalition. “Tens of millions dollars less in funding will mean less money to hire doctors and nurses, it will mean fewer long-term care beds, it will mean less money to replace aging infrastructure and it will mean less stability in our public healthcare system.”
The changes from a 6% escalator in the CHT to a 3% increase is the result of a series of side deals signed between the federal and provincial and territorial governments in lieu of negotiating a new nation Health Accord that guaranteed sustainable funding. Nova Scotia was the second province to agree to take a deal with a reduced escalator clause.
“The new targeted program funding for mental health and homecare is a small bright spot, but the failure to ensure that federal funding will keep pace with costs means that all parts of the of Nova Scotia’s healthcare system could face cuts,” Parsons added.
The Nova Scotia Health Coalition will be hosting a public townhall meeting at the Halifax North Memorial Library at 6:30pm on Thursday, March 30 to discuss the state of healthcare in Nova Scotia.