As strong supporters of public health care, we are deeply concerned that the federal government led by Stephen Harper has no intention of engaging the provincial and territorial governments to secure a new 10-year Health Accord when the current one expires in 2014.

Public health care reflects our fundamental values of equity and fairness. Protecting and improving our public health care system is a priority for Canadians.

Yet, the federal government is retreating from supporting and upholding public medicare. It has downloaded costs and responsibilities and abandoned its essential federal role in encouraging innovations like curtailing the cost of drugs and expanding the principles of medicare to cover home and continuing care.

The federal share of funding for health care, already low, will decline by $36 billion in coming years. Ottawa plans to leave the risks and the pressures to provinces and territories to deal with on their own. In addition, the Harper government has also cut health care for refugees, RCMP, veterans’ long-term care beds, and the Health Council of Canada.

From July 25-26 the premiers will be meeting at their annual Council of the Federation in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It will provide an important opportunity to take a stand for public medicare and call the Harper government back to the intergovernmental table in order to work together for the necessary changes to ensure universal access to quality care for generations to come.

There is overwhelming public support for public, universal health care and Canadians need their premiers to advocate in the strongest terms possible for federal leadership on health care and a renewed Health Accord.

Shirley Douglas, Toronto 

Maude Barlow and Sharon Sholzberg-Gray, Ottawa


This letter was originally published in The Toronto Star and is reprinted here with permission. 

Maude Barlow

Maude Barlow

Maude Barlow is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and chairs the board of Washington-based Food and Water Watch. She is also an executive member of the San Francisco–based...