Social Justice and Democracy

What’s the best way to improve health care – with cuts or by investing wisely?

April 25, 2015

Solving the Health Care Crisis

Canada is aging. By 2026, one in five of us will have reached age 65, and over the next 10 years we face a shortage of 86,000 long-term care beds. Considering many of us already struggle to find quality long-term care for our loved ones, it’s no wonder we worry about having the health care we’ll need in the future.

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And it’s not just seniors who are waiting. Four million Canadians don’t have a family doctor.

While Canadians wait for care, the federal government is breaking its promise to put the funds we need into the system.

Before the last federal election, Prime Minister Harper promised to renew the Federal Health Accord, committing to increasing health care transfer payments to the provinces by six per cent a year. All political parties recognized that making this commitment was the only way to ensure Canadians will get the care they need, despite a rapidly aging population and increased demand and costs.

But in 2013, the government broke that promise, tying any further increases to economic growth. Even if the outlook for Canada’s economy exceeds expectations and improves, increases in funding for health care are unlikely to exceed 3 per cent.

That means a funding shortfall of about $36 billion in health care transfers by 2024.

How does that make sense?

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We have a better plan.

One that will ensure Canadians get the care they need, when they need it. One that also creates good jobs.

Instead of cutting, let’s get back to the original plan to invest enough in the system to recruit and train the healthcare professionals we need and improve access to – and the quality of – long-term care.

Let’s also invest in universal drug coverage. Today, more than 3 million Canadians can’t afford the medication they need. A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that investing just $1 billion annually would save $7.3 billion every year – a 32 per cent reduction in overall spending on prescription drugs.

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Investing in Canada’s health care system will benefit all Canadians. It will create skilled, high-value jobs and help keep Canadians healthy and able to work. These are long-term benefits that only investment can deliver for our economy.

Investing in our health care system is the better choice for all Canadians.

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