Tag Archives: Federal-provincial health accord

Aglukkaq might as well be talking about car washes and kittens

We’ve noted several times the absence of Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq when it comes to media inquiries about issues within her jurisdiction.

Her performance in Parliament likely gives us a good illustration why.

The absence of a renewed Federal-Provincial health accord has raised considerable discussion over what the role of the federal government should be.

The 10-year 2004 accord set a number of national objectives for the provinces and federal government to work towards, the most prominent being wait times.

It is therefore reasonable for the opposition to ask questions when the Health Council of Canada — set up to monitor that accord — starts throwing up warning flags that achievements in reducing wait times are beginning to erode.

Responding to a question from NDP health critic Libby Davies, Aglukkaq cryptically responded that the problem was really two Quebec NDP MPs who were having trouble paying their back taxes.

“Our government is making record investments in health care, including new e-health initiatives I announced some time ago,” Aglukkaq told Parliament. “It is Canadians who pay those taxes. When members of the NDP caucus do not pay their taxes, it takes money away from services Canadians value, like health care. It is bad enough that they vote against health care investments, but now we know that some members of their caucus are not even paying their fair share of taxes.”

Aglukkaq might have well answered by talking about car washes and kittens for all the relevance her answer contained.

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Federal health funding scheduled to drop when it most needed — McBane

Michael McBane of the Canadian Health Coalition speaks to the Canadian Health Professionals Secretariat meeting Thursday. Seated next to him is NUPGE's Len Bush.

Michael McBane of the Canadian Health Coalition speaks to the Canadian Health Professionals Secretariat meeting Thursday. Seated next to him is NUPGE’s Len Bush.

OTTAWA – In the late 1970s it was Monique Begin, then Federal Minister of Health and Welfare, who suggested that citizens needed to mobilize into coalitions to make noise in society to get anything to work.

As Michael McBane, the present National Coordinator of the Canadian Health Coalition said Thursday, “governments are not likely to see the light first.”

In 1979 the Canadian Health Coalition began, with many of the provinces quickly following suit with their own coalitions, including the Ontario Health Coalition.

The first project the national coalition embarked on was a campaign to abolish extra billing by doctors. Charging user fees over and beyond those provided by Medicare, the campaign eventually led to a ban on extra billing as part of the new Canada Health Act passed in 1984.

Speaking before the Canadian Health Professionals Secretariat in Ottawa yesterday, McBane says that while some things have changed, we are still fighting similar “zombie” ideas that keep on coming back.

Today the coalition is again fighting extra billing by private clinics, this time without a federal government willing to enforce the principles of the Canada Health Act.

“We no longer have three parties that believe in Medicare,” says McBane.

Transfer payments from the Federal government to the provinces was originally intended to allow Canadians to access consistent national standards of health care regardless of where they lived.

The Harper government is clearly on another path.

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Ontario gets worse grade than feds on CMA report card

Ontario is the only region in Canada to receive a worse rating than the federal government on how it deals with health care according to the Canadian Medical Association’s National Report Card for 2012.

The report card represents a poll of Canadians conducted in July by Ipsos Read Public Affairs.

Given most Canadians likely couldn’t name the Federal Health Minister, Ontario’s inferior ranking is a curious result.

Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq has been largely invisible to the public. When questions started getting asked about the federal response to the Sandoz drug shortage, for example, Aglukkaq was largely missing in action.

Despite federal sponsorship of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, Aglukkaq was a bit player at the launch of the Commission’s strategy earlier this year, her speech uninspired, her commitments no more than a nod to fund ongoing research.

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Can Canada’s first mental health strategy really find buy-in from the provinces?

At the very end of the launch of Canada’s first ever mental health strategy, a reporter asked Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq if the government intended to seek uniform mental health services across the provinces.

Senator Michael Kirby jumped in, saying there never has been uniformity. The level of access to services presently varies between provinces. Some will need to do more than others. The gaps were different.

Dr. David Goldbloom, the new Chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, said the recommendations were meant to be at a high enough level that they could be shaped by the individual provinces.

The presenters had begun the presentation by describing the strategy in historic terms; the reality became clear by the end that there was a considerable job ahead to sell the provinces on one guiding path forward.

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