OTTAWA – Today’s budget shows a continuing irresponsible, disregard by the Conservative government for the major health concerns facing Canadians. The minimal investments in health care, such as home care and mental health services, fall far short of needed commitments for long-term and stable funding for desperately needed health care services for Canadians.
Last year, the Conservatives unilaterally slashed health care funding by over $30 billion dollars. This year’s budget only makes it worse with short-term investments and piecemeal initiatives.
It seems incredible that with an ageing population and rising rates of chronic illness, with so many Canadians unable to access the long-term, home, and palliative care services they need, that the Conservatives are only offering indirect supports for these services. Simply creating a tax exemption for personal care home care services is woefully inadequate.
In the area of continuing care, the budget has a small improvement for education and training for front-line health professionals working in palliative care, but it does not address the need for a long-term commitment to expanded and flexible palliative care services.
I believe that improving health outcomes for First Nations and Inuit is critical to the health of our nation, but the commitments in this budget are far from what is needed. The funds provided to increase health care services for First Nations and Inuit do not apply to those living in urban areas, who also require timely and comprehensive services. Furthermore, these are short-term commitments that will not provide the investment needed to overcome systemic barriers First Nations and Inuit encounter in the health care system or the continual care needed to prevent and manage chronic health conditions.
For years the Conservatives have missed the opportunity to improve public health care for Canadians, including a national prescription drug coverage strategy, expanding continuing care and providing better benefits for caregivers; timely access to primary care; and providing preventative health care programs.
On behalf of the NDP, I will continue to fight for long-term and stable funding to expand and enhance public health care. I will continue to fight for federal leadership, to work with the provinces and territories and provide the comprehensive public health care that Canadians are demanding.