BC Nurses not happy with Conservatives
Last week’s federal budget is a disappointment for nurses, patients and their families, as the Harper Conservatives fail to provide any leadership to protect and improve public healthcare in Canada.
“Instead of increasing federal investments in healthcare and other public programs, the government is continuing its drive to pull back and force other levels of government to deal with programs the public needs,” said Debra McPherson, president of the BC Nurses’ Union.
“Faced with increasing financial difficulties for the provinces in providing resources to accommodate increased needs for healthcare, Ottawa should have used today’s budget to kick start negotiations to renew the federal-provincial health funding accord. Those negotiations should include attaching conditions to the transfer of funds to the provinces to encourage them to develop national programs to cover prescription drugs, home care and long term care.”
McPherson slammed Ottawa for continuing its plan to reduce the growth in federal health transfers and for its hands-off attitude toward what the provinces do with federal dollars.
“The Harper Conservatives seem quite happy to balance their own books on the backs of patients, while forcing provinces to grapple with the impact of changes in federal cash transfers,” she said.
“As an example, because of the recent BC budget, Vancouver Coastal Health is ordering cuts of two percent across the board including cuts to staffing for patients’ services.”
In December 2011 the Finance Minister announced Ottawa would limit increases in federal health transfers to the provinces to the rate of economic growth after 2017, and start calculating funding on a per capita basis immediately, thereby punishing provinces with larger numbers of senior citizens.
The government also removed itself from monitoring how federal funds are spent, or from enforcing the Canada Health Act, opening the door to more privatization.
“It is striking to note that Ottawa is willing to take a hands-off approach to provincial responsibilities for public health care, but in today’s budget the new “Canada Jobs Grant” directs provinces to match federal funds in a different area of provincial jurisdiction. The budget shows medicare is simply not on this government’s radar and that’s very disturbing,” McPherson said.