Canadians support public health care

On Dec. 18, 2002, David Doran and Louise Turner of the North Okanagan Labour Council, along with Debra Critchley of the Vernon Women's Centre made this submission to Okanagan-Shuswap Member of Parliament Darrel Stinson:

"If Government Can't Afford Health Care Who Can?"
Roy Romanow - Chair of the Commission on the Future of health Care in Canada

Three out of every four Canadians want a Public Health Care System.

The vast majority of Canadians endorse the Romanow report, which is a clear rejection of the status quo and a pragmatic step in the right direction to secure the future of public health care.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly said that his government was awaiting the findings of the Romanow Commission before acting.

"Romanow has discredited the for-profit, private sector health care delivery model. The way is now clear for swift action."

Every day in Canada, the public health care system delivers, effective, quality health care to millions of people.

Some provincial governments claim Medicare is in crisis, so that they can justify massive cutbacks in health care funding, jobs and services. And corporations promote this myth, because they're looking for lucrative business opportunities.

But the facts are clear. Health care spending in Canada is not out of control. Canadians get much better value for their health care dollar than our neighbors to the south. It makes no sense to divert precious health care dollars away from medical services and into profits for the owners and investors of big medical and insurance companies.

We all get sick. And like it or not, we're all getting older. So we all have interest in improving health care. We don't want two-tier health care. And we don't want privatizers, trade deals or Enrons to destroy Medicare.

We want to reform public health care so that it meets our changing needs.

The key questions are whether we're going to pay for it fairly through our taxes, and whether we're going to protect health care budgets from corporate profiteers.

Where will it comes from?

  • The budget surpluses accumulated by the federal government since the late 1990s total more than $46.7 billion.

  • The federal revenue voluntarily forgone, through the many tax cuts made by Tory and Liberal governments since 1984, totals about $250 billion.

  • The largest single set of tax cuts came in Paul Martin's budget in 2000, which will deprive Ottawa of about $100 billion by the time they all kick in by 2005.

  • According to the OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development) our effective personal average 18% tax rate is now lower than those of all other G-8 nations except Japan. In Britain it's 23.5% in Germany and France about 22%, in Italy 25.5%.

  • The number of our largest corporations with revenues of more than $250 million that pay no tax at all in any given year ranges from 29%-41% of them. In addition, close to 40% of the subsidiaries of these corporations, along with other smaller firms - as many as 700,000 of them - pay not a single cent in income taxes.

Clearly the problem is not one of revenue insufficiency, but of revenue maldistribution. Thanks to needless tax breaks and various governments handouts to our richest individuals and companies, we now live in a country where Statistics Canada tells us that the wealthiest 10% of family units hold 53% of the personal wealth, and the top 50% control a shocking 94.4% of the wealth.

By the same token, if our federal and provincial governments really believed that a war on sickness or poverty or homelessness , or any other social problem, was a priority, the money for such an initiative would also be quickly found or raised - and without increasing taxes or taking money away from other needed services.

We know that access to health care and the provision of health care services under a private for-profit system are directly connected to ability to pay. The bottom line is people who can pay will get health care and those who can't won't.

Accountability is key.

In a public system, the patient is the top priority and the costs of the treatment at the bottom. In the for-profit system, investors and profit are at the top of the priorities while the patient comes last.

Public money should not be funneled into private for-profit systems. The federal government has no mandate to sell off our public health care system to the lowest bidder. The discrepancies between access to services in rural and urban communities will widen. Today we know that rural communities are already without enough doctors, emergency rooms, operating rooms, nurses and doctors. Under a for-profit system this will get worse not better. Corporations will only invest in communities that have the population base to turn the profits.

Canadians strongly support national principles in health care and Canadians want standards in health care to be country-wide, public and accessible for all.


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