Concern over fate of Medicare

March 31, 2014 could well become a date that many will come to remember as the beginning of the demise of Medicare.

After this date, there will be no signed agreement between the provinces and the federal government that ensures adherence to the five principles set in the Canada Health Act.

Canadians have come to rely on and expect that all administration is carried out by a public authority in a non-profit basis with audits of records and accounts.

Accountability for health dollars is needed. The Health Council of Canada, an independent non-profit agency which, since 2004, has been charged with the auditing of the Canada health system will no longer exist after March 31.

The federal government will cease to fund this agency. In other words, there will be no independent agency monitoring of how health dollars are being spent. Does that mean that provinces will be able to use health targeted dollars as part of general revenue?

Comprehensiveness ensures that all health services including hospitals, physicians and dental surgeons must be insured. The Canada Health Act ensures Canadians that all citizens are entitled to the same level of service.

The portability principle allows Canadians to get health service in any province in Canada after having met a minimum waiting time. The accessibility provision ensures that all insured individuals have access to health care and that physicians and hospitals are fairly compensated for their services.

It does not allow for profit services. As Canadians we need to be extremely concerned about the directions of the present government regarding health care.

The five principles of the Canada Health Act which are administration with accountability for a non-profit system; comprehensiveness with insured hospital, physicians and surgical dentists; universality with the same level of services for all insured residents; portability with services available to all insured citizens if they move to a different province; and accessibility with reasonable access to health care facilities for all insured persons and an assurance that physicians and hospitals are reasonably compensated, are in grave danger of being disregarded.

We are already seeing evidence of downloading of costs through the increases in MSP premiums. Costs will increase as the federal government continues to cut back on funding. If the Canada Health Act is important to Canadians, we must speak up.

Health Care cannot be equated to an individuals’ ability to pay.

Write or visit both your MP and MLA. Let them know that Medicare is important and must be funded properly. A newly renegotiated Canada Health Accord is essential. All citizens, rich or poor, need and deserve health care. MLAs need to be asked what the provincial governments will do to fund health care if the federal health transfer money decreases. Silence implies consent.

Regina Day

Nelson, B.C.