Harper government attacks public health care with unilateral decision to cutback transfer payments

"Once again, the Harper government has shown that it prefers to dictate rather than negotiate," said James Clancy, NUPGE National President. "Their unilateral decision to cutback billions of dollars in health transfer payments will have serious negative consequences in terms of the accessibility and quality of health care across the country."

Ottawa (20 Dec. 2011) - The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) says the announcement by federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty on the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) further demonstrates the Harper government's disdain for democracy and a total lack of leadership on health care.

At a meeting of Finance Ministers from across the country, Flaherty announced that the federal government would extend the 6 per cent escalator clause, part of the 2004 Health Accord, for the CHT only until the 2016-17 fiscal year. After that, until at least 2024, annual increases in the CHT will be tied to nominal GDP growth.

The Ontario Department of Finance projects that the Harper government's decision could remove as much as $36 billion in support for health care across the country.

NUPGE National President James Clancy criticized the Harper government for acting unilaterally rather than working in partnership with the provinces to improve health care. 

"Canadians want the federal government to work in partnership with the provinces not dictate terms and conditions," says Clancy. "Where was the consultation and negotiations? How are the provinces health care needs and priorities reflected in this announcement?"

Clancy also said the announcement shows a total lack of commitment and leadership by the Harper government when it comes to the top public policy issue for most Canadians. 

"There's no doubt that this announcement means the removal of billions of dollars from the health care system and that's going to have serious negative consequences for the accessibility and quality of care that Canadians receive," says Clancy.

"This is the exact opposite of what Canadians want - they've repeatedly said they want a stronger federal role and greater federal investment in health care, not less," says Clancy. "And the reality is that the federal government could afford to make a much bigger investment in health care if it stopped spending billions of dollars on corporate tax cuts, new fighter jets and federal mega-prisons."

"In addition to more investment, Canadians want the federal government to work with the provinces to fill in the gaps in the continuum of care. They want to see new programs and services in the areas of home care, long term care, prescription drug coverage (pharmacare) and mental health," said Clancy.

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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