To the Editor,
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government continues to move stealthily toward strangling public healthcare. Its unilateral 2011 decisions cut the Canada Health Transfer from a six-per cent annual increase to one based on three-per cent GDP growth and provincial population. B.C. has already lost $255 million while our population is aging and new health technologies are becoming more and more expensive. Current federal funding levels are at an historic low, dropping from the 50/50 split in the 1960s when Medicare began to approximately 20 per cent now. The new funding formula is expected to increase provincial debts as more and more responsibilities are assumed while adequate funding falls. This is likely to lead to greater wait times and other drastic cuts in service as well as unequal provincial treatment standards, both violations of the Canada Health Act.
Waiting in the wings are private, for-profit clinics, poised to challenge our Charter of Rights. Those of us who rely on affordable single-payer public healthcare will all be losers as there are absolutely no examples of more affordable healthcare for all provided by private, for-profit health systems. The huge tragedy in all this lies in the fact that with projected federal surpluses by 2030, largely based on savings from these ill-advised cuts to transfer payments, the federal government can well afford to maintain today’s level of funding and even increase services.