Health Coalition urges billions of dollars in health transfers be balanced with pharmacare
The influential Hill Times newspaper in Ottawa carried this letter-to-the Editor prominently in its Monday, December 20, 2021 edition.
Canada Health Transfer needs to be balanced with conditional funding for targeted health care programs, such as pharmacare: Staples
I was very surprised by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s suggestion that the $4.5-billion announced in the economic and fiscal update to fight Omicron might not actually be used for this purpose.
“We are spending a lot of money on health care. We are trusting the provinces to use these tools to fight COVID,” the finance minister told CTV’s Evan Solomon.
My question is: should the federal government be transferring billions to provinces for health care and simply trust them to spend it as intended?
The Canadian Health Coalition has warned the federal government against making unconditional health-care spending boosts to provinces through the Canada Health Transfer. Once the cheque is cashed, provinces are largely free to spend the transfers any way they wish, including decreasing their share of health care spending, buying pipelines, or even cutting corporate taxes.
We are fortunate the government can provide urgently needed funds quickly to fight the pandemic. At the same time, the Canada Health Transfer needs to be balanced with conditional funding for targeted health care programs, such as pharmacare.
A national, universal single-payer public drug plan will help make life more affordable for people in Canada, improving health outcomes and relieving pressure on hospitals because patients can access their preventative medications, rather than ending up in the emergency room.
The finance minister said, “Our guiding principle will continue to be the conviction that the best economic policy is a strong health policy.” Targeted health-care programs, such as pharmacare, will play an essential role in achieving this goal.
National Director of Policy and Advocacy
Canadian Health Coalition