Prime Minister Harper has never liked universal medicare and that’s why he is refusing to sign another Health Care Accord.
The latter, by the way died this week, and in case you don’t know, that was the mechanism by which the federal government paid the provinces for medicare.
When medicare began, the costs were shared 50-50 by the federal and provincial governments.
At that time, by the way, Tommy Douglas, the Father of Medicare, had highly recommended further innovations, which were never implemented, and that might have helped the bureaucrats with their financial plans.
After lowering the federal amounts paid to provinces since he came to power, now, it seems, Harper wants to force provinces to implement user-pay services, which will “balkanize” Canada.
In other words, each province may develop very different plans. With the high mobility of people, each time a person moves from one province to another they will find a different medicare situation. Probably the poorer provinces will need to have more user-pay procedures.
In 1986 Harper’s National Citizens’ Coalition called for “permitting the establishment of private medical insurance schemes and private hospitals.” (M. Dobbin, April 16, 2011)
When running for the leadership of the Alliance Party, Harper was quoted as saying, “Our health care will continue to deteriorate unless Ottawa overhauls the Canada Health Act to allow the provinces to experiment with market reforms and private health care delivery options. He is prepared to take tough positions including experimenting with private delivery in the public system.”
In 2001, Harper attacked the appointment of Roy Romanow’s Commission into the future of medicare. (Speech to the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating. June 27, 2001.)
He said there should be “private delivery options within the public system.” He apparently doesn’t even like to use the word “medicare.”
He ordered Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq not to attend the meeting of the Canadian Medical Association, breaking a 25-year Canadian tradition of federal health ministers attending the CMA’s meetings.
It is scary that it seems Harper wants his legacy to be the death of universal medicare, when that is what most Canadians value the most. His latest nail in the coffin is his refusal to sign the Health Accord, which would ensure the ongoing future of medicare.