11 Feb Release: Federal Budget Bleeds Provincial Health Systems
For immediate release
Feb 11, 2013
Federal Budget Bleeds Provincial Health Systems
Halifax, NS – The federal budget tabled today in the House of Commons aims at balance by drastic cuts to Canada’s public health system, say the Nova Scotia Citizens’ Health Care Network. The budget passed up a number of opportunities to improve care nationwide, and marks a further step in the federal government’s abandonment of responsibility for health care.
Canadians were promised a universal pharmacare plan in 2004 that would expand drug coverage and save $10.7 billion dollars. That has yet to materialize. Without a national aging strategy, provinces are left to their own to plan and fund how to provide care to aging populations. Furthermore, Ottawa has denied care to refugees, leaving the provinces to cover treatment of their most vulnerable.
“The reals costs of this budget will be borne on the backs of provinces like Nova Scotia.” Said James Hutt, Co-ordinator of the Health Network. “The only savings this budget projects will come from cutting frontline health care workers, and denying care to those who need it most.”
There are wait lists in every province for a variety of health care services and today’s federal budget will do nothing to reduce these wait times. In Nova Scotia, there are major wait times for access to long-term care, to get a family physician, to access mental health care services, as well as many other medically necessary services.
In addition to the budget, The 2004 Health Accord, the funding agreement between the federal and provincial governments that benchmarks for wait times and care delivery, expires on March 31, 2014. The federal government has refused to negotiate a new accord, and has announced that it will cut funding by $36 billion over the next 10 years. For Nova Scotia, that amounts to a $902 million cut – equivalent to over 10% of the province’s entire nursing staff.
“Nova Scotia has some of the highest rates of chronic illness and disease in the country, and our health system is already stressed” said Hutt. “By failing to adequately fund public health care and create national standards, the Harper Conservatives are undermining Medicare as we have known it by creating two-tiered health care across the country. One level of care for provinces like Alberta, and one level of care for provinces like Nova Scotia.”
For more information, contact:
Nova Scotia Citizen’s Health Care Network
About the Nova Scotia Citizen’s Health Care Network
Formed in 1996, the Nova Scotia Citizens’ Health Care Network’s goal is to stop the privatization of the public health care system, ensure high levels of care, and create a forum for people and communities to discuss issues in health care.
The Network is a coalition of local health committees, community groups, organized labour, faith groups, women’s organizations, students, and individuals dedicated to protecting and extending public health care to include services like pharmacare, dental care, long-term care, mental health care and home care.
The Network is political but non-partisan and receives no government funding.