Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Preserve Medicare

By Anne Morris
Salmon Arm Observer
January 04, 2012

MP Colin Mayes tells us that the federal government is reviewing the Canada Health Accord and that the current health-care system “is not sustainable.” He says that “solutions, whether they are tied to private delivery or public delivery,” need to be found (Dec. 21). This should raise a red flag for Canadians who value our public Medicare system.

Canada’s current Health Accord expires in 2014, and the federal government is preparing for negotiations with the provinces and territories on a health-care accord for the future. Private interests are lobbying to expand for-profit health services for the wealthy. The Harper government wants to oblige by convincing Canadians that our current system is unaffordable and that increased privatization is the answer.

But two-tier health care has been proven to increase costs and also wait times for those of us who can’t afford private health care. Furthermore, if private for-profit hospitals are permitted in Canada, American HMOs will rightly claim that under the North American Free Trade Agreement, they too have a right to establish themselves in Canada. Do Canadians want American-style health care? I think not.

The federal government can afford a well-funded, enhanced public health-care system if it chooses to do so. Cancelling the planned purchase of 65 F-35 stealth fighter-bombers, would free up $30 billion to invest in health care over the coming years, and cancelling the planned tax cut to corporations would yield another $6 billion.

A recent report from the international Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, (cited in the same issue of the Observer), states that income inequality in Canada is rising, and that it is not market forces but federal and provincial government policies that are increasing this inequality.

Medicare is an equalizing force in Canadian society in that it is designed to provide quality care to everyone, regardless of income status. Let’s keep it that way by saying ‘no’ to the Harper government’s smoke and mirrors campaign to persuade us that Medicare is unaffordable.

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