The Health Accord of 2004 is an agreement between the provinces, territories and federal government. The Accord is very important as it provides the provinces with stable funding and sets national standards in health care. This Accord expires on March 31st, 2014 and the federal government of Stephen Harper is refusing to renegotiate it.
The 2004 Health Accord not only increased the federal share of health care funding by injecting $41.2 billion of new monies over the next 10 years, it was also a time of renewal for federal-provincial relationship. It stabilized our health-care system by setting goals and objectives to improve the quality, accessibility and sustainability of our public health care system.
While the federal government establishes the national standards for health care services, the provinces deliver those services. I am very concern that failing to renegotiate the Health Accord eliminates any control the federal government has to ensure provinces are complying with the five principals of the Canada Health Act: public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability and accessibility.
I am also very concern that the actions of the federal conservative government in recent years will reverse the gains made by the 2004 Health Accord. In December 2011, the federal conservative government imposed a funding agreement without any negotiations with the provinces that will reduce funding by $36 billion nationally and reduce funding by $715 million to New Brunswick, over the next 10 years. This leads us to believe that our federal conservative government is walking away from Medicare.
I strongly believe that every New Brunswicker deserves a public health care system that guarantees medical coverage regardless of where they live or what stage if their life they are in or their ability to pay. That is why, this upcoming March 31st, I will take part, along with other Canadians from coast to coast, in a National Day of Action for a new Health Accord.
We will be asking that the federal government negotiates a 2014 Health Care Accord that will protect, strengthen and expand universal public health care. Federal leadership is essential to secure public health care Canadians in all regions and into the future.
Without a Health Accord, federal funding will be given to the provinces with no strings attached. This means provinces and territories can spend the money however they like, often resulting is some provinces having less public coverage of services than others.
We will also be calling on Hugh Flemming, our Minister of Health to take a strong stance for the population of New Brunswick and demand that their federal counterparts negotiate a 2014 Health Care Accord. I strongly believe that if all Premiers stand together, they can send a strong and united message to Prime Minister Harper to stop undermining our public health care and to negotiate with the provinces and territories
We have to take action now if we want to save public health care in Canada. We simply cannot have a two-tier health care system: one system for the wealthy, and another broken system for the rest of us.
Nancy Arseneau is the co-chair of the NB Health Coalition.