Prescription for a broken health care system can’t be more politics

Posted on November 13, 2022 in Health Debates

Source: — Authors: – Opinion/Editorial
Nov. 10, 2022.   By Star Editorial Board

The way to break this impasse on funding might have to be Ottawa making individual accords with co-operative provinces. 

Maybe you’re on an interminable wait list for elective surgery. Maybe you’re one of the growing number of Canadians who have had to head to an overcrowded ER because you don’t have a family doctor. Maybe you’re a parent, panicked because your child is having difficulty breathing because of a respiratory ailment that is surging and overwhelming pediatric hospitals.

Maybe you are rightly wary of an approaching winter and the warnings of a brutal flu season or an assault from another COVID variant. Maybe you’re a health worker who is simply burned out. Maybe you’re a nurse who has already left, feeling overburdened and underappreciated.

Whatever your personal experience, you know that Canada’s once-lauded public health care system is broken and urgently needs a remedy.

When Canada’s health ministers convened in Vancouver this week, they all agreed our health care system was in “crisis.” They all agreed the situation was urgent.

So, they prescribed politics.

Not what the doctor ordered.

Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos arrived promising an increase in health care transfers to the provinces in return for agreement on national health care indicators and creation of a health care data system.

Duclos left Vancouver blaming premiers for undercutting the work of their health ministers by issuing a statement that the Vancouver meeting was a failure, even as the meeting was ongoing.

The provincial and territorial ministers and Duclos met with reporters separately.

The federal minister says that before anyone can start talking about the means to health care reform, we need to talk about the ends. In other words, results. The premiers talk only about money, he said.

According to Duclos, that is not a plan. “That is the old way of doing things. If there was anyone still doubting it, the current crisis is the undeniable proof that the old way doesn’t work. We need to do things differently.”

Duclos was no doubt mindful of the great Health Accord brokered by former Prime Minister Paul Martin in 2004 when Ottawa pumped $41 billion over 10 years to the provinces for health care, heralding the transformative change in our health care system. Provinces awash in such federal largesse delivered no such thing. No federal government has dared take that path again.

The premiers insist Ottawa’s share of health care funding has dropped to 22 per cent and they are demanding an annual unconditional injection of $28 billion more bringing that share to 33 per cent. Ottawa counters that when tax points available to the provinces are taken into consideration, the funding is at 33 per cent. Canadians don’t want to hear about math. They want to hear about solutions.

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix, even before the meeting began, chided Trudeau for his lack of commitment to a first ministers conference, saying the Prime Minister was not a “potted plant.”

After this week’s breakdown, Dix said the premiers have asked for a national health care conference “1,420 times.” Even accounting for the embellishment for emphasis, perhaps Dix and his colleagues should remember the old adage about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

No prime minister would sit down with 13 adversaries (and make no mistake, premiers have ensured that would be the tenor of such a meeting). The 13 leaders, many of them running budget surpluses, would look across the table and see, not a prime minister, but an ATM. Trudeau would need the parameters of a deal before he sat for such a meeting.

This matter is urgent. The way to break this impasse might have to be Ottawa making individual accords with co-operative provinces. That is not, as some characterize it, ‘divide and conquer,’ nor is it a threat. It’s a way to get much-needed results at a critical time for our health care system.

Tags: , , ,

This entry was posted on Sunday, November 13th, 2022 at 8:32 pm and is filed under Health Debates. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply