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Tuesday, 13 December 2016 20:50

‘Both sides need to move’—Health coalition

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‘Both sides need to move’—Health coalitio

            The Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) wants both the federal and provincial governments to get over their intransigence and move to create a badly-needed new Health Accord that will be in the public interest.

            For months, provincial premiers and the federal government have been fighting over funding, with the provinces calling

for more and the federal government sticking to funding formula cuts by the previous government.

            Both sides need to come to the table with concrete commitments, say health advocates like the OHC.

            A new Health Accord “must include an improved commitment for federal dollars," plus provincial commitments to use all federal health-care funding to improve “access and quality in public health-care services and not shift them into general revenues while cutting and privatizing services," says Natalie Mehra, OHC’s executive director.

            Private clinics are violating the Canada Health Act by “charging patients hundreds or even thousands of dollars for diagnostics and surgeries,” notes the OHC. “This drives up costs, takes money and resources out of local public hospitals, and means faster care for the rich and slower care for everyone else.”

            The Trudeau government is sticking with funding-formula reductions proposed by previous Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and limiting funding increases to increases in the gross domestic product, says the OHC. That leaves the health-care burden of population aging on the shoulders of the provinces, according to the federal Parliamentary Budget Office.

            Both sides, it adds, need to make concrete commitments to improve access across the continuum of care, including reducing wait times in public hospitals (see Ross hospital bump just shy of a mill), as well as improved access to primary health teams and to public home-care and continuing care.

            And both sides should re-establish the federal-provincial-territorial working groups on pharmacare and home/continuing care that were abandoned by the Harper government, with the goal of establishing a national public drug program and a plan to meet the health needs of aging Canadians.

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