The Harper government has announced a new funding arrangement for Medicare, which after 2016 will be tied to economic growth in the nominal GDP. According to one estimate, this will translate into $21 billion in cuts to health care funding over 10 years.
By unilaterally imposing health care funding cuts on the provinces, the Harper government is putting its own brand on a familiar prescription for privatization: scapegoat Medicare, ignore private health costs, pretend you don’t have any money, and then cut public health care to encourage privatization.
“The change in share of provincial budgets is not primarily due to increased health care spending. It is the result of decreases in other provincial spending to accommodate political decisions to cut taxes…Deep cuts in federal transfers to the provinces in the mid-1990s were compounded by provincial tax cutting policies in the latter part of the decade, causing significant reductions in total provincial budgets. Provincial revenues have fallen almost $30 billion since 1997, causing decreases in other government program spending through cuts to education, social services, and municipalities…It is tax cuts that have ‘crowded out’ these priorities, not Medicare”
2) IGNORE PRIVATE INEFFICIENCIES
3) PRETEND THERE’S NO MONEY
This passive aggressive approach is similar to Harper's campaign against abortion: claim to "not open the debate" while imposing cuts anyways. But this is based on a position of weakness: an overwhelming majority of people support public health care, the legacy of a grassroots movement that won Medicare and continues to defend it. Public health care is not a divisive issue, it unites us, as do other issues.
The funding is there, not only for public health care but for all the social determinants of health: income and social equality, housing and food security, education and a clean environment. But to occupy health and health care, we need to move beyond the 1% world of tax cuts, bank bailouts, military spending and profit-driven medicine.