My thanks go out to Kathie Woodlie (Care about medicare? Think carefully about your next vote, Letter to the Editor, Jan. 28) for drawing our attention to an issue of which many Canadians remain blissfully unaware, namely that in 2017 the Conservative government in Ottawa will begin the process of systematically dismantling our medicare system.
At a time when we should be increasing medicare funding, Stephen Harper is refusing to negotiate a new agreement with the provinces and will be unilaterally cutting the federal contribution by $36 billion. The provincial governments, unwilling or unable to recover the shortfall, will inevitably turn to the private sector to make up for inadequate public medical services.
The result will be an inferior system that is far more costly and inconvenient for users.
And once started, this process is not reversible. It’s a one-way street! Under NAFTA rules, once a private clinic, hospital or insurance company has its foot in the door there is no way to get it out without taxpayers facing massive lawsuits.
The Conservative government has at least two other choices. It could continue to reduce taxes and fund medicare by cutting support for other services. Or preferably, it could dedicate a tax increase to adequately fund health care. The 61 per cent of voters who did not vote Conservative in the last election (and even some of the 39 pre cent who did) cherish our medical system and want to see it restored.
Stephen Harper will argue that we have no choice. This, of course, is not true. Politics is all about choices. Let’s hope that in this year’s election Canadians choose a government that will raise our taxes enough to restore the health of our medicare system.