Events to be held across Canada to mark expiry of health accord
Tommy Douglas poses in Ottawa in this Oct. 19, 1983 file photo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Schwarz)
The Canadian Press
Published Monday, March 31, 2014 10:40AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, March 31, 2014 12:34PM EDT
OTTAWA -- Canadians in some parts of the country may face bed shortages and more expensive drugs now that a health-care deal between Ottawa and the provinces has expired, an advocacy group warned Monday.
Provinces with declining populations, such as New Brunswick, are already feeling the fallout from the expiry of the 10-year, $41-billion health accord struck in 2004, while growing provinces like Alberta stand to gain, said Canadian Health Coalition executive director Michael McBane.
"This year, New Brunswick will have less money, Alberta will have more," McBane told a news conference on Parliament Hill.
"There will be provincial governments who will not be able to meet the needs of their populations."
In 2011, former finance minister Jim Flaherty said the Canada Health Transfer to the provinces and territories would grow by six per cent a year until 2017-18.
After that, health transfers will be tied to the rate of economic growth and inflation, but the government says the annual rate of increase won't fall below three per cent.
Paul Moist, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, described how some provinces would be affected by the expiry of the deal.
"We'll see bed closures, as we've seen in Ontario. We'll see an inability to wrestle to the ground pharmaceutical prices ... we'll see, provincially, more de-listing of certain drugs that Canadians now receive," Moist said.
"There is no long-term care strategy for Canada. And I expect each and every provincial budget will continue to announce that provinces are assuming more and more responsibility from the days of 50-50 funding."
McBane, Moist and Linda Silas of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions were in Ottawa for one of dozens of events planned across Canada to mark the end of the health accord, which expired Monday.
Actress Shirley Douglas -- the daughter of politician Tommy Douglas, widely credited as the father of medicare -- was scheduled to speak later Monday at a rally in Toronto.
The left-leaning Council of Canadians also said at least 19 of its chapters planned to stage events in various locations.