Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Harper Conservative Government Weakens the Canadian Health Care System?

Recently the Harper Conservative government made a unilateral health care funding announcement to the provinces (similar to a strategy taken with the recent union strikes by Air Canada and Canada Post Corporation, in which negotiations were abruptly shortened). Also, the Conservative government side stepped the Canada Health Act, thereby disconnecting federal health funds with national standards.

Political Background of the Harper Conservative Government: 

In the 2011 Canadian general election, the Harper Conservative government received 39.6 percent of those Canadians who voted, and 24.3 percent including non-voters. Yet, through the first-past-the-post system, the Harper Conservative government received a 54 percent majority of the Canadian parliament. (Currently, in Canada, in a clear conflict of interest, the majority of the MPs determine the federal election laws. Over the last few decades, the Liberals and Conservatives have a created the electoral system Canadians have.)

The FDA proposes the following electoral reforms to the Canadian federal electoral system in order to the increase the voice of the will of the people:

1. The majority of federal politicians cease to determine the federal election laws.

2. An independent, non-partisan, elected citizen body made up of the diverse regions of Canada determine the federal election laws, and which must be consistent with the Canadian Constitution and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

3. The Canadian mainstream media and broadcasters three months prior to an election period and during it, are required to present an equality of non-partisan political content of all registered political parties.

4. The creation of media ownership concentrations laws in order to promote the plurality of Canadian media. (Source: France, Norway, and Bolivia's media ownership concentration laws.)

5. No registered political party is given an unequal advantage prior to and during an election. All registered political parties begin an election from the same starting place in terms of finances and media access, and throughout the campaign.
6. Registered political parties should have public support of at least .5 percent member support from the voting population and have a national platform. The .5 percent threshold is a democratic means of limiting political access by unpopular political parties. The requirement of a national platform prevents interest and regional based political parties from having the same privileges as registered political parties. However, interest and regional based political parties would be allowed to be on electoral lists as long as they satisfy the .5 percent member support threshold. (Sources: ideas of FDA auditors; Venezuela, Organic Law of Electoral Processes, Chapter II, Article 9-10, .5 percent declared member support either national or regional; Norway, Political Parties Act, Chapter II, Article 3(2), party registration based partly on public support from 5000 person who are eligible to vote; France, Organic Law No. 2011-410, representation on electoral list requires support from 500 elected officials at any level of government, and new political parties need $10,000 in donations in a 12 month period to receive public funding; Bolivia, Bolivian Law of the Electoral System, Act No. 26, political groups must represent at least 2 percent of vote in last election to be registered in subsequent election; New Zealand, Electoral Law 1993, to be registered political parties need at least 500 members; Egypt under Mubarak, Law No. 40 of the year 1977 Concerning the Political Party System and Its Amendments, ban on political parties which are based on religious, class, sectarian, categorical, or geographical basis. Note, countries with minimal barriers to entry for political parties like New Zealand, Canada, and the United States have various barriers within their electoral systems which favor significantly established and large political parties.)

The 2011 Conservative Party of Canada's platform on health care: 


We are committed to a universal public health care system and the Canada Health Act, and the right of provinces to deliver health care within their jurisdictions.

More work is needed to reduce wait times for other treatments and diagnostic procedures. And there remains a need for more timely and uniform reporting from the provinces and territories in order to measure progress.

Canadians expect and deserve timely access to high-quality health care services. To help achieve that goal, we will work collaboratively with the provinces and territories to renew the Health Accord and to continue reducing wait times.

In our discussions we will emphasize the importance of accountability and results for Canadians – better reporting from the provinces and territories to measure progress, and guarantees covering additional medically necessary procedures.

In the spirit of open federalism, when renewing the Health Accord we will respect the fact that health care is an area of provincial jurisdiction and respect limits on the federal spending power.

Recognizing asymmetrical federalism, we will follow the precedent of a separate agreement with the Government of Quebec regarding the implementation of the renewed Health Accord.


We will help attract new doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners to these communities, by forgiving a portion of federal student loans for those who agree to practice in underserved rural or remote areas.

The result will be better health care and a higher quality of life for Canadians in rural and remote communities.


From the Council of Canadians (January 24, 2012):

Harper government abandoning public health care

Council of Canadians’ National Chairperson Maude Barlow and Health Care Campaigner Adrienne Silnicki joined other Council staff, members and chapter activists in Victoria, B.C. earlier this month as provincial and territorial premiers met to talk about the 2014 Health Care Accord and the future delivery of health care services in Canada.

At the meeting, premiers condemned the Harper government for its unilateral funding announcement that will limit the amount of money provinces can expect from the federal government to deliver health care services. The Harper government hoped the announcement would put an end to financial negotiations for federal health transfers. By stepping away from the Canada Health Act and not tying federal funds to national standards, the Harper government closed the door on any opportunity to improve Canada’s health care system through the new accord.

Public health care advocates were at the Premiers’ meeting in force, reminding politicians of Canadians’ strong support for medicare. Young activists lined up outside meeting, holding up red umbrellas to tell politicians that “medicare has us all covered.” That evening, the Council of Canadians joined the BC Health Coalition in hosting a public forum about the 2014 Health Care Accord and what it means to Canadians. Keynote speakers at the event included Maude Barlow, Diana Gibson of the Parkland Institute, and Mike Luff of the National Union of Public & General Employees.

The Council of Canadians will be working with public health care allies across the country to sound the alarm about medicare’s uncertain future. We will lobby governments to take a strong stand in support of this valued social program, and push the federal government to assume a leadership role that strengthens medicare – not abandons it – in the lead-up to the signing of the 2014 accord.

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