‘Alternative budget’ tackles social and ecological determinants of health
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative (CCPA) has released it’s own federal budget, which takes a fresh look at the health care challenges faced by Canada. With a new minority Parliament taking shape in Ottawa, the Alternative Federal Budget (AFB) advances urgent policy priorities that would ensure a publicly led, inclusive pandemic recovery, says the CCPA.
Among the AFB’s priorities for immediate policy action are investing in the care economy by getting to the finish line on $10-a-day child care and taking the profit motive out of both child care and long-term care (LTC). The AFB also increases provincial health transfers and expands public health care to include pharmacare, a national mental health program, a national dental care plan, and 10 paid sick days. The plan allocates $6 billion over three years for national LTC standards.
“It is entirely informed by the social and ecological determinants of health and it is chock full of solutions to ensure health equity and community well-being,” said Trish Hennessey, one of the co-authors of the health section. That chapter was informed by a committee of health equity experts who brought a wide range of well-being budgeting ideas to life, including representatives from the Canadian Health Coalition.
Working with co-author Lindsay McLaren, associate professor at the University of Calgary, Hennessey says that the AFB lays out a plan to ensure health equity and well-being for all by, among other things:
- Connecting the dots between the social and ecological determinants of health—things like income, working conditions, a clean environment—and their impact on health outcomes.
- Creating an independent commission to lead a national inquiry into COVID-19 and health equity.
- Helping health systems recover from COVID-19 pressures and deal with backlogs, as well as ensuring adequate PPE supplies and protections for health care workers.
- Expanding the public health care system to include pharmacare, a national mental health program, a national dental care plan, and 10 paid sick days.
- Developing national standards for virtual care.
- Investing in hiring 1,000 social prescribing navigators to link people to a range of local, non-clinical supports to improve health and well-being.
- Establishing better income security for low-income people, the unemployed, and people living with disabilities.
- Investing in the care economy, which includes improved federal funding for public child care and long-term care.
- Creating a Just Transition Benefit to support workers to transition to a new green economy, among other urgent initiatives to save the planet.
Now in its 26th year, the AFB is a collaborative effort bringing together a hundred Canadian economists and sectoral experts to present progressive policy solutions to society’s most pressing challenges, with the means to pay for them.
Mission Critical: A just and equitable recovery is published by the CCPA and is available for download at http://www.policyalternatives.ca/MissionCritical.