The Health Council of Canada’s days may be numbered. A creation of the 2003 10-year health accord between the provinces and the federal government, the Harper government has indicated that the Council will go the way of the Accord itself – into history – unless someone else decides to fund it.
The question is: will the provinces see value in maintaining the Council after the Accord is complete?
If you are expecting to see your taxes cut or the federal deficit to be reduced by shuttering the Council’s offices, don’t hold your breath. The most recent Annual Report from the Council indicates expenditures of about $5.7 million. This is relatively small change given Canada spends more than $200 billion on both public and private health care. Having an actual roadmap is not an entirely bad plan.
The Council is very much the creature of its participants – each provincial and territorial government appointing their own representative. The Ottawa Hospital CEO Jack Kitts is Ontario’s appointee and serves as the Council’s chair.
The Council therefore tilts towards what the provinces want it to tilt towards. In recent years it’s been all about “health care renewal.”
On Wednesday former Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow expressed some regret over the cuts he made to health care while his province faced a tough economy. Speaking at a Canadian Health Coalition forum in Ottawa, Romanow admitted that pushing health care costs on to individuals was a false economy. The cuts have also created a lasting legacy for his political party, which has struggled to maintain seats in rural Saskatchewan after closure of many small town hospitals. This may be a direct lesson for Dalton McGuinty, whose government has itself toyed with the idea of reducing the scope of services at rural hospitals and delisted some OHIP coverage, particularly around physiotherapy, eye examinations, and chiropractic care.
Whether we pay through our tax dollars, or pay out-of-pocket, as Canadians we still pay. Evidence would suggest the difference between the two is a single-payer (tax-funded) health system is far more efficient and equitable.
Roy Romanow, the former Chair fo the Commission of the Future of Health in Canada, will be the keynote speaker November 30 at a free Canadian Health Coalition event in Ottawa.
The two-hour event at the Fairmount Chateau Laurier includes two panel discussions, one looking at threats to Medicare, the other looking at what the way forward should be.
Globe and Mail health reporter Andre Picard will moderate the panel discussions.
Panelists include Diana Gibson (Parkland Institute, Alberta); Dr. Marie- Claude Goulet (Médecins Québécois pour le Régime Public); Allan Maslove and Marc-André Gagnon (Carleton University School of Public Policy and Administration); Natalie Mehra (Ontario Health Coalition); John Abbott (Health Council of Canada); and Dr. Michael Rachlis (Independent policy analyst) and Sharon Scholzberg-Gray (Past-President Canadian Healthcare Association).
This event takes place in the Adam Room of the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa. Not in Ottawa? You can watch it streamed live at http://healthcoalition.ca . To register to attend this free event, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 819-770-1626.
You don’t have to look further than the Occupy movement to realize that public policy has been skewed by a focus on changes to the gross domestic product (GDP) – a measure of change in the size of the overall economy.
Changes in economic activity don’t necessarily tell us whether we’re sacrificing our work-life balance to maintain our standard of living, whether new wealth is only flowing to those at the very top, or whether such growth is at the expense of the environment, critical for all human life.
The first ever Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) was released this month to provide an alternate way of looking at public policy decisions through a more rational evidence-based lens.