On July 18, the Council of Canadians with Canadian Doctors for Medicare, provincial and community health coalitions, and public health-care allies are holding a National Day of Action for a 2014 Health Accord across Canada!
July 18 marks one week before the Council of the Federation meets in Halifax, N.S. On their agenda is the 2014 Health Accord, er... not really an accord actually. An "accord" by definition means "agreement or consent" in Webster's dictionary and "agreement or harmony" in the Oxford dictionary. Yet, none of these words seem to suit the actions of the federal government who last December flew into a meeting of the finance ministers and while the ministers were at lunch, the federal government placed a piece of paper on the ministers' desks dictating that the federal transfers for health care would be cut by $31 billion between 2017-2024.
2017 may sound like a long way away and perhaps an arbitrary year to chose but I'll give Harper a little more credit than that. 2017 seems to me to be a pretty a safe distance from the next 2015 federal election -- Harper doesn't want this to be an election issue -- and far enough away that Canadians aren't feeling the full effects yet.
But Canadians will feel the effects very soon. Without a national Health Accord, the federal government will get away with downloading more of their responsibilities onto provinces and territories. Remember that health care was initially agreed to on the basis of a 50-50 cost-sharing program between the federal and provincial/territorial governments. And while we still haven't reached that 50-50 goal, letting the government's share of financial responsibility fall below 18 per cent was definitely not the plan either.
But the Health Accord is about more than just money. The Health Accord gives us a chance to protect, strengthen and expand public health care. In the pro-medicare community we often talk about health care as an umbrella -- you may have noted the red umbrella in our materials. We use the slogan "medicare has got us covered." And when we talk about expanding the medicare umbrella we mean to make the umbrella bigger by adding more programs to medicare. We need programs like home and community care, mental health care, pharmacare, and vision and dental care. We need to make sure that everyone in Canada -- and I'm including refugees -- can access a full spectrum of care from cradle to grave.
The 2014 Health Accord could be used to expand medicare coverage. It could be used to set national standards to ensure that everyone in Canada can access timely and appropriate care. But if Harper doesn't get called back to the Health Accord negotiating table, the $31 billion in cuts will proceed and no additional programs will even be discussed. Shame!
So today, on July 18, I urge all of you to find a health-care event happening close to you, contact your premier and join us in calling Harper back to the 2014 Health Accord table. "Oh, Harper..."
B.C. Actions - National Day of Action for a 2014 Health Accord
Vancouver: 12:00 Noon, Vancouver Art Gallery - South Steps
Victoria: 12:00 Noon, BC Legislature - Corner of Belleville and Menzies
Campbell River: 12:00 Noon, Spirit Square
Sechelt: 3:30 - 5:30 p.m., St Mary's Hospital, 5544 Sunshine Coast Hwy
Kamloops: 12:00 Noon. Ponderosa Lodge, 425 Columbia Street
Kelowna: 5:00 p.m., Capri Mall (Ron Cannan's office (near Kettle Valley coffee)
Nelson: 9:30-3:00, Baker Street Market
Ontario Actions - National Day of Action for 2014 Health Accord
Toronto: 11:40, Human sculpture! Riverdale Park East- Across the street from the Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Church on Bain and Broadview.
Port Elgin: 5:30 p.m., Human sculpture! On the beach at the end of CAW Road #25.
Halifax: 12:00 p.m., Exercise Flashmob! Spring Garden Library, Spring Garden Rd.
Charlottetown (July 19): 12:00 p.m., In front of the PEI Legislature
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