Canada's premiers united in Victoria Monday to demand that the federal government reopen its "unprecedented and unacceptable" decisions over health-care funding, even as the prime minister tried to shut the door on further debate..."The premiers were unanimous that the federal government's decision to unilaterally decide funding was unprecedented and unacceptable," B.C. Premier Christy Clark said Monday, speaking as chairwoman of a meeting of 13 provincial and territorial leaders in Victoria. The premiers remain angry after Ottawa imposed a new 10-year health accord last month, without any consultation or negotiation...B.C. NDP MP Libby Davies, who represented the federal Opposition in Victoria Monday, questioned whether Harper is trying to cause division among the premiers.
OTTAWA — Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq confirmed Tuesday the federal government won't fulfil a promise to regulate trans fats in foods if voluntary measures failed. Facing questions from the Opposition in the House of Commons about newly released internal records showing she killed a government plan in 2009 to impose strict limits on trans fats in food products after the voluntary approach didn't get the job done, Aglukkaq said she won't add a "regulatory burden" to industry..."Health experts are clear, the provinces are onboard and families are trying to make healthier choices for their kids. In fact, there was a plan in place but the large food companies complained and, guess what, the minister killed it. In 2009, the minister wrote, 'further action is needed.' Can the minister tell us if she was wrong then or is she wrong now?" NDP health critic Libby Davies asked Aglukkaq during question period Tuesday.
Q: What do you have to look forward to over the winter sitting? A: Healthcare is my file right now, so that’s taking up a lot of my time, and it’s a very big file, and we have great NDP members on the committee, so we’re dividing it up and each specialising on certain things, so I’m very happy about that. We’re working as a team. We are going to be generating a bigger campaign around the future of medicare. Besides that, issues that come out of my riding that in some ways are very much related to healthcare, such as affordable housing and homelessness, the rights of sex workers, the impacts on drug users from the “war on drugs” – these are issues that are ongoing, whether it’s Insite, or what’s happening to sex workers in the court challenges that are happening right now. These are things that I’m paying attention to because they don’t get a lot of attention in parliament, and I feel like l have to be a strong advocate for those issues, and I want to be a strong advocate. Those things are also very much a part of the work that I do.
The House of Commons doesn't resume sitting until next week but MPs on the health committee will be coming to Ottawa early for a special meeting on the government's controversial health-care funding plan. The NDP used a procedural tactic to request a Thursday meeting and will use it try to force the committee to undertake a study of the new funding plan that was abruptly announced by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in December. "We think that this is a very critical and emerging issue that needs to be addressed by the health committee," the NDP's health critic and deputy leader, Libby Davies, said in an interview.
VICTORIA — The Harper government’s health plan is often said to divide booming western provinces and poorer eastern provinces. But, more accurately, it pits Alberta against everyone else. Alberta would be handed about $810 million more under Ottawa’s new per capita transfer model if it were in place today, calculations by The Chronicle Herald show. Every other province would lose out...The federal NDP has gone so far as to say Prime Minister Stephen Harper designed the system to pit the provinces against each other in a divide-and-conquer strategy. "This is a very calculating prime minister," said federal NDP health critic Libby Davies. "I’m sure he knew full well that just slapping down one formula was going to create divisions. I just don’t think there’s any two ways about that."
On the eve of pivotal health care meetings between Canada's premiers, with critics calling on provinces to unite against Conservative cuts, B.C. premier Christy Clark and five other provincial leaders toured a new Victoria hospital wing, speaking to reporters of medical innovation and inter-provincial cooperation...Following a roundtable on public health care held yesterday, Libby Davies, Vancouver-East Member of Parliament and the New Democratic Party (NDP) health critic, said Canadians expect more leadership from Ottawa. “The Canada Health Act is a federal act,” Davies told the Vancouver Observer. “There is a key federal role that has to be adhered to.
Provincial and territorial leaders gathered in Victoria Sunday evening for their first meeting together since Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced the federal government would stop providing health-care transfers at an annual increase of six per cent after 2016-17, and instead tie funding to economic growth...New Democrats held a roundtable on health care featuring over a dozen experts in Victoria on Sunday. NDP health critic Libby Davies accused Ottawa of not doing more on the file. “After investing over $160 billion in health care, many of the reforms included in the 2003-04 health accords have seen little or even no improvement under Stephen Harper’s leadership," said Davies in a press release.
GATINEAU, QUE.—Ottawa still has sway with the provinces on health policy, despite issuing a new funding formula without conditions, says Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq. But federal-provincial talks on the future of health care won’t be the tense, high-stakes game of chicken of the past, Aglukkaq said in her first public comments since Finance Minister Jim Flaherty handed provinces the federal health-funding scheme for the coming decade. Instead, the discussions will be more about performance measurement, accountability and sharing of best practices rather than money, she told reporters. Critics and some provinces have accused Ottawa of abdicating its responsibility to maintain a high national standard for health care, and Aglukkaq’s comments on Thursday did nothing to change those views. “She’s dreaming if she thinks it’s a better atmosphere,” said NDP health critic Libby Davies. “I think they’ve botched the whole file.”
Despite recent statistics showing HIV/AIDS on the rise in Canada, AIDS service organizations say the government has made it more difficult to access federal funds. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) released its guidelines for funding proposals for Canadian HIV/AIDS groups on Dec 2, giving groups just 28 days to make their cases for more federal funding. Funding criteria has also changed, and funding is now open to groups that had not received past monies. Applicants must now also include more information from partners, and the funding envelope is for two years instead of the usual four...NDP health critic Libby Davies says it’s disrespectful. “I hate to be cynical, but I feel like there is a pattern where for funding, they like to create this sense of uncertainty, and it creates almost a dependency, where people don’t dare speak out,” Davies says of the government.
Q: What was the highlight of your fall session? A: For me it was watching our new MPs get in the game. It’s been incredible to watch them, because I remember what it was like when I was a new MP, and I was someone who’d been involved in politics municipally for quite a while, and I felt overwhelmed by this place. So watching our new MPs, suddenly we’re the official opposition, and we’re up there in Question Period, and I feel like we’ve found our legs, and here we are, almost in our fifth week of a five-week run and usually by that point, people are getting tired and crabby, and yet our team is still raring to go.
OTTAWA—Roy Romanow is 72, though he hardly looks it. He has earned the right to sit this one out, but, of course, he can’t. As the future of health care in Canada elbows its way onto centre stage in 2012, the former Saskatchewan premier will be marking 50 years of fighting for a publicly administered, single-payer health-care system in this country....“Very early on in my thinking, I came to the conclusion that the most efficient and most ethical form of delivery is predicated on the assumption that we are all together on this short journey in life and we owe it to each other to look after each other the best that we can,” he said...Under the proposed Ottawa scheme, says NDP deputy leader Libby Davies, good years will mean sustainable health care, but the bad years will mean, “sorry, you are out of luck.’’