Health Care: A Community Concern?

By Anne Crichton; Ann Robertson et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 28

Continuing Cutbacks: Implications for
Health Services and Health

The Liberal government has had difficulty in keeping its election promises to maintain social programs at the same level of financing as before. The national debt continues to rise because of interest payments on earlier annual deficits. This has resulted in a move by the federal government to replace the Established Programs Financing Act (EPF) transfers and those of the Canada Assistance Plan with one Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST) from October 1995, which puts the onus on the provincial governments to allocate the social redistribution across all the social programs. And Mendelson (1996) has said that:

Without federally imposed national standards, the single payer medicare system will certainly erode.... Straightforward user fees could be initiated for some services. A private tier, either partially subsidized or unsubsidized, could be permitted ... a special income tax surtax could be imposed on sick people for the value of services they receive from medicare.... Doctor's extra billing could be legalized again.... All these alternatives have one thing in common, Canadians end up paying more for health care, except they have the privilege of not paying it in taxes.... The dam will surely burst if the federal government pulls its finger out. The only question then will be where the system will restabilize.... If the federal government allows the CHST to dwindle or even diminish enough that it loses its moral authority, it is the end of universal single payer medicare.... For welfare and personal social services we don't even have to bother waiting for the CHST cash to disappear for national conditions to end.... The federal government having withdrawn from any protection of those most vulnerable in Canada, has paved the way for a merciless attack on all the programs developed over the last thirty years to provide at least some semblance of a social

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