Medicare Week: Canadians want investment in and expansion of health care system | National Union of Public and General Employees

Medicare Week: Canadians want investment in and expansion of health care system

A new NANOS poll released during Medicare Week shows majority of Canadians want the federal government to provide fixed healthcare funding to the provinces that does not see-saw according to the relative strength of the economy.

Ottawa (03 Dec. 2013) - This years Medicare Week, December 2-7, finds Canadians wanting the federal government to act to defend and improve their health care system. Medicare Week takes place in the final months of the 2004-2014 Health Accord.  Activists across the country, including members of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), are using Medicare Week to highlight the need for secure federal health care to protect and improve Canada's health care system.

Harper government won't continue 10 year Health Accord - dictates funding

The Canada Health Transfer (CHT) and Canada Social Transfer (CST) negotiated in 2004 by the Paul Martin government are set to expire in March 2014.  In December 2011, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced that the federal government would extend the six 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 estimates that the Harper government's decision could remove as much as $36 billion in support for health care across the country.

"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?

"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.

To help raise the issue NUPGE has initiated an online letter writing campaign on the CHT and CST.  Letter writers will be entered into a draw to win $100.

NANOS poll on federal funding to health care

Also released to coincide with Medicare Week, the CHC commissioned Nanos Research to conduct a national survey.  The poll found that Canadians are more likely to want the federal government to invest future budget surpluses in healthcare (45 per cent) compared to reducing the national debt (37%) or tax cuts (16%).

The Nanos survey also shows that the majority of Canadians want the federal government to provide fixed healthcare funding to the provinces that does not see-saw according to the relative strength of the economy. When offered a choice between federal healthcare funding that fluctuates according to the health of the economy, and federal funding that provides a fixed share to the provinces to meet the needs of their residents, 65 per cent of respondents chose the latter.

"It is time for the federal government to step up, provide fixed funding and help meet the urgent healthcare needs of an aging population, people with physical and mental challenges, and children and young adults with special need," said Mike McBane, CHC National Coordinator.

Canadians want improved services for seniors - willing to pay for it

The same survey also shows that more than four out of ten Canadians are worried about being able to afford or have access to healthcare as a senior.  Furthermore, more than six in ten are open to paying higher taxes if it meant homecare costs or drug costs would be covered.

"Canadians are ready for some common sense from the federal government when it comes to funding healthcare," said Mr. McBane. "The need for senior and continuing care services is increasing so we need a federal seniors care plan not the federal cuts to health transfers announced by the Harper government."

A national Nanos RDD Omni Crowdsource random survey of 1,000 Canadians was conducted between November 19th and 24th, 2013. Participants were randomly recruited by telephone and administered a survey online. The sample included both land- and cell-lines across Canada. The results were statistically checked and weighted using the latest Census data. The margin of error for a random survey of 1,000 Canadians is ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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All Together Now! letter writing campaign

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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