Monday, April 11, 2011

Harper Indirectly Vows To "Get Rid Of" Medicare

Ralph Goodale highlights how Harper intends to dismantle medicare...


Two things have always been on Stephen Harper's "hit list", if ever he got a chance to have his way -- the repeal of the Canada Health Act and the termination of the Canada Pension Plan.

The Conservatives continue to ignore the impending pension crisis facing millions of Canadians. But with respect to health care, the Conservative platform in this election is an outright threat.

They are proposing to lavish $75 billion over the next few years on three big and risky spending schemes:

* $30 billion for extra corporate tax cuts for the big banks and companies like Imperial Oil;
* another $30 billion for 65 non-competitive "stealth" warplanes; and
* about $15 billion for US-style mega-jails.

These are the priorities Mr. Harper puts ahead of everything else. Extra corporate tax cuts ahead of better pensions or more affordable housing. Warplanes ahead of family caregivers or early childhood development. Jails ahead of education or crime prevention.

But the real elephant in the room is medicare!

When Liberals were in power, we negotiated a 10-year Canada Health Accord with all the provinces, worth $41 billion and running until 2014. With that end-date rapidly approaching, the whole deal has to be renegotiated very soon. Will the level of federal support set by the Liberals be maintained?

We believe it must be. Otherwise, Canada's health care system will erode.

But in the Harper budget last month and in his election platform this month, there are no guarantees. To use their own words, under a re-elected Conservative regime, federal support for medicare is "subject to change" and not assured for any specific time frame.

This becomes abundantly clear in light of Harper's massive ideological splurge on warplanes, prisons and extra corporate tax cuts. There's simply no room left for healthcare (or anything else for that matter).

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