Three members of the Liberal Party’s health care team today presented Canadians with a choice between the current Conservative governments’ refusal to take responsibility for Canada’s health and health care system and a future Liberal government that will defend the Canada Health Act and work to improve public health care.
“Since Stephen Harper came to office, health care has been cut from the federal agenda,” said Liberal Health Critic Ujjal Dosanjh. “The Conservatives refuse to defend Canada’s public health care system – and Canadians are rightly worried that it won’t be there for them or their families. Only the Liberal Party can be trusted to safeguard and enhance public health care.”
In speeches delivered in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver today, Mr. Dosanjh, and Liberal MPs Dr. Carolyn Bennett and Dr. Hedy Fry warned that the Conservatives want to weaken public health care by replacing the cash portion of the Canada Health and Social Transfer with tax points – which would make it impossible to uphold the Canada Health Act, resulting in the end of Medicare.
“Unlike this Conservative government, Liberals believe that public health care can be improved by innovative public solutions, such as increased supports for family caregivers,” said Mr. Dosanjh. “In the long term, we need to bring pharmaceuticals and the entire continuum of care – including home care and chronic care – into the Canada Health Act.”
“We have a Prime Minister who once said ‘It’s past time the feds scrapped the Canada Health Act,’” said Dr. Bennett. “In 2005, just before he took power, he said he thought two-tier health care ‘would be a good idea.’ We must oppose this loudly and strongly.
“The 2004 health accord expires in 2014. The next federal government will be responsible for shaping what comes after. The work must begin right now. We cannot afford to delay,” Dr. Bennett said.
Liberals argued that public solutions can help alleviate pressures on the health care systems. For instance, the Liberal Family Care Plan will help alleviate the bottleneck of patients who could be discharged from hospital and cared for by a family member in the comfort of their own homes, through two measures:
- A new six-month Family Care Employment Insurance Benefit, similar to the EI parental leave benefit; and
- A new Family Care Tax Benefit, which will provide hundreds of thousands of families with a tax-free payment worth up to $1,350 per year to help defray the costs of providing family care.
In addition, the Liberal Party will:
- Promote healthy eating through Canada’s first-ever National Food Policy;
- Implement a national brain strategy, to help more Canadian families face Alzheimer’s and other dementias;
- Forgive up to $20,000 in federal student loans for doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners who choose to practice in a designated, underserved rural community, and apply an equitable share of fund towards regional health needs in Quebec;
- Achieve full high-speed internet access to bring 21st-century health innovation to rural and remote areas; and
- Make sure that all Canadians benefit from electronic health records, through the Canada Health Infoway.
“The Harper government thinks it’s good enough for someone who has to take care of a sick loved one to ‘use their vacation time,’ and it is Stephen Harper who also said investing in homecare is ‘reckless,’ ” said Liberal MP Dr. Hedy Fry. “What’s truly reckless is ignoring the economic pressures on middle-class families while instead spending $16 billion on untendered stealth fighters and $13 billion on super-prisons.”