HEAL Gov. Submissions

On a regular basis, HEAL appears as a witness before Standing Committees of the House of Commons (e.g., Health and Finance) and submits written Briefs.

The Health Action Lobby (HEAL) is pleased to have the opportunity to make a positive and lasting contribution to the future of our much-valued publicly funded health care system through this submission to the Royal Commission on the Future of Canada’s Health Care System. HEAL commends the Prime Minister for establishing the Commission and looks forward to the outcome of Commissioner Romanow’s deliberations on building a sustainable publicly funded system that meets the changing health needs of Canadians, now and into the future.

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Dear Mr. Martin,

On behalf of the Health Action Lobby, we submit seven recommendations for enhancing the federal government's financial commitment to the health system.  We ask that these recommendations be considered in the development of the government's up-coming financial statement.

Health investments in the 1999 federal budget signaled a good first step towards restoring Canadians' confidence in our health care system. The announcements provided a clear statement that there is a critical need to significantly increase the federal government's presence in the funding of Canada's health care system.

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HEAL acknowledges the need for fiscal discipline. Accordingly. HEAL is not asking the federal government to turn the clock back to higher levels of federal-provincial transfers at this time. It is, however, recommending that future cuts, i.e. planned reductions in cash entitlements which have not yet been implemented, be forgone.

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HEAL acknowledges the need for fiscal restraint. Governments simply cannot go on indefinitely living beyond their means. Deficits must be reduced and, eventually, debt retired in order to ensure that the programs taxpayers want can be financed. But allowing Medicare to die now in order to revive it later is as foolish as it is unnecessary.

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Prior to the election, the government pledged that a "top priority for a Liberal government will be preserving and protecting our universal Medicare system (and) maintaining the values that underpin it" (Liberal Party of Canada, 1993). The annommnek of the new Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST) in the February 27, 1995 budget speech by the Minister of Fiance, the Hon. Paul Martin, confirmed for HEAL that the federal government is preparing to substantially redefine its role in Canada's health system.

HEAL believes that a strong federal financial presence in the health system is essential in order to provide the leadership needed to maintain the national integrity of the system and guide its continued development. The major reforms being undertaken on the provincial and territorial health systems are changing the face of Medicare. The participation of the federal government, through a commitment to sustain significant cash support to help the provinces and territories manage the changes in a rational and coordinated manner, is vital. Without such support, the federal government profoundly weakens its credibility in attempting to ensure national standards for health.

It is therefore appropriate to now consider the key elements for a new transfer arrangement for health in Canada.

Accordingly, the purpose of this brief is to express HEAL's serious concerns about the federal government's continued withdrawal of funding from the health system. This brief will outline a viable and realistic approach to health system funding that will create a stable and predictable environment for the health system.

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