Mr. Wilks’ claim (letter to the editor, The Free Press, April 3) that the Harper government has increased healthcare funding “to historic levels” is meaningless if he provides no statistical context for it: as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product over the last 30 years, for instance.
On the other hand, there is some truth in his assertion that the Liberals were guilty of “gutting healthcare funding”, as indeed they were.
Under the Chretien government, finance minister Paul Martin’s 1994 budget cut funding for healthcare and other social services, notably unemployment insurance, beyond the bone.
The irony for Mr. Wilks is that Martin did so in order to gain political leverage against Preston Manning’s Reform Party, the fiscally reactionary forerunner of Mr. Wilks’ Conservative government, and where Harper hung his hat before becoming prime minister.
Unfortunately, both the Trudeau Liberals and the Harper Conservatives are in denial about the existence of the only worthwhile blueprint for a rejuvenated Canadian Medicare system: the Romanow Report of November 2002.
Commissioned by the federal Liberals, it was then stuffed into some broom closet on Parliament Hill and has never seen the light of day. And as long as Mr. Wilks and the Conservatives are in power in Ottawa, it never will.
However, even though the Wilks’ letter is long on rhetoric and short on relevant statistics, there is one number he cannot escape but which he refuses to acknowledge: the $52.5 billion that his government is committed to cutting from the healthcare budget on their way to privatizing Medicare in Canada.
In the light of this massive reduction to healthcare funding, and of his government’s refusal to renew the Canadian Health Accord, Wilks’ claim that the Harper government “is committed to a publicly funded, universally accessible health care system” must be viewed with justifiable skepticism, if not total disbelief.