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Pharmacare today, like medicare 50 years ago, makes sense

Friday, June 14th, 2019

In terms of cost overall, most experts agree that a universal, single-pay system would save money for Canadians… But a universal public program would also shift costs from individuals and employers to governments… Canadians would pay more in taxes for universal drug coverage. But this tax increase would be more than compensated for by the out-of-pocket, administrative and cost savings associated with the move to public pharmacare.

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Doug Ford’s OHIP move strikes at the heart of medicare

Thursday, April 25th, 2019

In the case of those who are “temporarily absent” from the country, the Canada Health Act reads as follows: “Where the insured services are provided out of Canada, payment is made on the basis of the amount that would have been paid by the province for similar services rendered in the province.” … By attacking the key principle of portability — the notion that Canadian residents take their health insurance with them wherever they go — it is aiming a dagger at medicare’s throat.

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NDP pharmacare plan sets a new standard

Monday, April 8th, 2019

… families now enjoying private drug insurance would save $550 a year on average under a universal public scheme. Employers that offer drug coverage to their workers would pay on average $600 less per employee. In short, Canadians would pay more in taxes for pharmaceuticals but less overall. The NDP is sketchy on the politics of its plan, particularly on how to get the provinces to agree.

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In the real world, encouraging signs for pharmacare

Monday, March 11th, 2019

… universal pharmacare, while it would cost Canadians less in total, would cost Canadian governments more – which is why finance ministers such as Bill Morneau are wary of it… a federal-provincial-territorial-Indigenous agency could co-exist with a fill-in-the-gaps system. But it makes more sense to go to all of this bother only for something more comprehensive, such as universal pharmacare.

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Ontario restraint bill much more than two-year wage freeze

Friday, September 28th, 2012

September 28, 2012
The Ontario government is selling its new public restraint bill as a simple, two-year wage freeze. A close reading shows the proposed law is much, much broader… it would give the provincial cabinet wartime-style powers over public sector compensation for at least six years… And the bill would bar unions from either striking or appealing such decisions to the courts.

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Kitchener-Waterloo byelection sees new liberals outpace old ones

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

September 07, 2012
First, voters decided that while they might be somewhat conservative, they weren’t as far to the right as Tim Hudak’s PC Party. They decided to vote liberal. Second, and most important, they decided that the NDP was a better liberal alternative than the real Liberal Party… All of this is taking place as New Democrats move deliberately rightward to what they, and most media, call the centre.

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Happy Labour Day. It’s all pretty grim

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

August 31, 2012
Unions are solidly middle-class institutions. True, their rhetoric may be radical… But in reality, unions are fundamentally conservative. Most today are not trying to break new ground. Instead, they are attempting to hold on — often desperately — to what they have… As unions disappear, so do well-paying, secure jobs. When labour is strong, even non-union shops pay well — just to prevent themselves from being organized… Sadly, much of the middle-class doesn’t recognize the role that unions play in keeping everyone’s wages at livable levels.

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EI changes driven by contempt and ideology

Sunday, May 27th, 2012

May 25 2012
Its biggest failing is that it no longer helps most of the jobless… only 40 per cent of the unemployed even qualify for benefits. In Toronto, that figure drops to 26 per cent… EI now pays for maternity, parental and compassionate leaves. It funds training programs and subsidizes self-employed fishermen. All of these may deserve government support. But they have little to do with a program that is supposed to help the jobless get by while they search for work. The government’s new rules deal with none of the program’s real problems.

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Why not put all Ontario doctors on salary?

Friday, May 11th, 2012

May 11, 2012
In spite of doctors’ initial misgivings, fee-for-service medicare turned out to be a bonanza. They could still charge piece-work rates. But their payments were guaranteed by government… Ontario’s government, for instance, began by negotiating overall financial settlements with the Ontario Medical Association, leaving physicians to divvy up the pot. But that proved unsatisfactory since it allowed the most politically powerful factions within the OMA to reap the bulk of the rewards. This in turn left some areas — particularly general practice medicine — woefully underfunded.

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Ottawa’s low-wage immigration policy threatens turmoil

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Apr 27 2012
this government… says that if Canadians don’t want to see jobs going to foreigners, they should quit whining and accept lower wages. Which is why Ottawa’s answer to complaints made about temporary foreign workers is to toughen Employment Insurance rules. Kenney has warned that unemployed workers who refuse to take low-wage jobs will have their EI benefits cut off. If Canadians agree to work for less, he explains, Ottawa won’t have to bring in as many low-wage outsiders. All of this is a solution of sorts, I suppose, albeit a 19th century one. But it is a solution that threatens to bring with it the kind of agitation now seen in countries like France, Holland and Greece — where the racist right is on the rise and where far too many workers view immigrants as mortal enemies out to steal their jobs.

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