July 24-26 the provincial Premiers will be meeting in Niagara-on-the-Lake for the last Council of the Federation meeting before the 10-year federal-provincial health accord expires.
What comes next is largely a mystery. The federal government has committed to increased transfers but appears disinterested in what the provinces do with that money.
Federal transfers will continue at the 6 per cent threshold until 2017 but eventually align with economic growth. No matter what, the federal government has committed to a minimum growth in the Canada Health Transfer of 3 per cent.
Whereas the last accord was about reducing wait times for key diagnostics and procedures, there is no consensus about whether there will be any national objective over the next 10 years.
Health care groups are already organizing for the Niagara meeting, plans taking shape for a shadow summit and rally July 24-25.
There’s much to discuss. Recently momentum has been gathering towards a push to bring Canada into the mainstream of developed nations by establishing a national Pharmacare program for prescription drug coverage.
A national strategy for drugs could dramatically reduce Canada’s overall spending on health care and lead to a healthier population. At present about one in ten Canadians do not fill their doctor’s prescription because of cost.
The Romanow Commission described home care as the next essential service, yet Canada still has a patchwork of systems in place.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada has also released its own national strategy – but will all the provinces sign on?
The summit plans to address these issues and more from a national perspective and participants will discuss what our expectations are of the Premiers meeting next door.
The Ontario Health Coalition is urging those interested in participating in this two-day event to book their accommodations early – Niagara-on-the-Lake is a popular tourist destination in mid-July and room availability may be an issue.
More on this to come!