McLeod misses the point

Health care costs are escalating and the present health transfer increases of six per cent per annum barely does the job

Editor, The Times:

Re: McLeod sets record straight, Apr. 9 issue.

Prime Minister Harper’s representative in Kamloops-Thompson-Caribou is parroting the same platitudes that appear on pg. 279 of the Conservative’s 2014 Budget Bill: “Ensuring a strong, publicly funded health care system remains a priority for the government.” The truth resides in the numbers.

For whatever reasons, health care costs are escalating and the present health transfer increases of six per cent per annum barely does the job. However, Ms. McLeod states, “Funding (is) guaranteed to increase by at least three per cent per year”. It sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it? But, when costs, plus inflation, are rising faster than the federal transfers, it’s pretty dismal.

Calculations reveal that, after six years of this quest for a “sustainable health care system” the funding gap will be over 20 per cent. That’s probably enough to inflict irreversible damage to the Canadian health care system.

Harper’s treatment of health care is an example of what is often referred to as the “boiling frog syndrome”; if you throw a frog into cool water and raise the temperature slowly, the frog won’t notice his predicament, until he expires. Diminished services, lengthening wait lists, dirtier surgical instruments and so on, are all part of the hot water our little health care frog will have to endure.

To add even more ambiguity to the situation, the budget states, “Beginning in 2017-2018, the CHT (Canada health transfers) will grow in line with nominal GDP (gross domestic product) with a guaranteed minimum growth rate of three per cent….” According to the World Bank, Canada’s annual growth in GDP, from 2001 to 2012 was 1.89 per cent, which is a lot less than 3 per cent. Is the government trying to tell us that future performance will be better? So, what are the health care increases going to be, Ms. McLeod? Three per cent, or less than two per cent?

If they’re intended to be three per cent, why mention the link to GDP?

The Harper government has never held a federal-provincial conference, as has been customary in this country. Harper’s style works fine in a dictatorship but in a large, diverse country like Canada, it’s likely to be a dismal failure. When McLeod defends her government’s efforts toward a “sustainable” health care system by mentioning Harper’s sending out a lightweight emissary such as Rona Ambrose to “launch an advisory panel,” it is nothing more than an outdated April Fool’s joke. After all, 2015 is an election year. We get it, Ms. McLeod, but we’re not laughing.

Anyone who’s seriously wondering why there are sign-waving people holding rallies to focus the public attention should now know part of the answer.

D. Simms

Clearwater, B.C.