Monday, July 18, 2011

Federal Conservatives, Ostriches, and Medicare

In the 1980s, as leader of Saskatchewan's Provincial Liberals, Ralph Goodale routinely wrote newspaper commentaries on fiscal responsibility, strategic investment advice for the (then) Devine Conservative government, and generally dispensed honest intellectual wisdom which was lauded by leading economists (and the people of Saskatchewan, on whose behalf he spoke with passion and candor). He was the ONLY Saskatchewan politician at the time embracing fiscal responsibility, at a time when the Devine Tories were creating debt like drunken Tories (whoops... I meant sailors).

It's great to see Ralph continuing to engage discussion on what is good and economically right for Canadian taxpayers.

Here is Ralph's latest update:


A commentary by the Member of Parliament for Wascana

July 18th, 2011


The federal government is behaving like an ostrich when it comes to the future of Canada’s health-care system.

With his head deep in the sand, Mr. Harper is ignoring the biggest policy elephant his government has to face – the refinancing of Canadian medicare by no later than 2014.

That’s when the existing federal-provincial-territorial Health Accord expires. It provided for $41 billion in new federal funding over 10 years, beginning in 2004.

The Harper government hasn’t added a single new penny since it took power in 2006. Neither has it followed through on the homecare or pharma-care issues which were supposed to be addressed in this period before 2014.

Instead, the Conservatives mooch credit for financing put in place in the Liberal budget of 2004. And they keep passing the buck to the provinces, denying federal responsibilities.

To make things worse, the Harper government’s trade negotiations may cause pharmaceutical costs in Canada to jump by as much as $2 - $3 billion a year.

Many Premiers are worried about two tricks the feds may pull to appear to be dealing with this “policy elephant”, while really just off-loading problems onto the provinces.

One trick would be cutting federal transfer payments for education, social programs and infrastructure in order to increase transfers for health. It would be a classic case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. The provinces would be no better off.

The other trick would be to send the provinces “tax points” instead of cash to pay for health-care. This is an old gimmick that always favours the biggest and wealthiest provinces with the most extensive tax bases, while penalizing all the rest.

Neither of these tricks is appropriate. Instead, Mr. Harper should start talking with Premiers to hear their arguments for health funding ahead of fighter jets, bigger jails and extra corporate tax cuts.

post signatureVICTORY FUND

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