What does it take before the Federal government recognizes the health care needs of the North!

We are faced with a huge incidence of diabetes, high suicide and accident rates, high rates of heart disease and cancer and the growing threat of AIDS. Many people are having a hard time finding a doctor. In the process, we have one of the lowest life expectancies in Canada. This is Canada in the year 2008. This is unacceptable!

The Federal government must accept responsibility for much of the problem. It has cut the Federal share for medicare from 50% to as low as 14%. Even the recent agreement on health care funding only returns the Federal government to a 16% share.

The NDP created public medicare in this country, and it’s why we defend it so strongly today. In Manitoba, the Schreyer NDP government brought in pharmacare and home care in the 1970’s. In contrast, we still don’t have a national pharmacare or home care program.

Wait times doubled and innovation withered under the Liberals, but the Conservatives have no plan to improve health care. Patients wait for hours in overcrowded emergency rooms, millions of Canadians can’t find a doctor, families can’t afford medications they need, and seniors are still waiting for a long-term care plan.

Like the Liberals, the Conservatives won’t stop the creeping privatization that bleeds resources from the public system most of us of rely on. And the fifth point of their so-called five key priorities — a “wait times guarantee” — is nowhere to be found after months in office.

Jack Layton and the NDP have practical proposals to work with provinces and territories to improve and secure the future of public health care.

  • More doctors & nurses – Create more training spaces for health care providers to expand the pool of skilled professionals and shorten wait times for patients.
  • Real dignity for seniors – Provide free dental and drug coverage for everyone over 65; and expand long-term care options for the thousands of seniors who are waiting right now in acute-care hospital beds.
  • Cost-saving innovation – Invest in innovations — like modern home care — that offer choices for patients, free up costly hospital beds, and shorten wait times for other patients.
  • Control drug costs – Phase in a national prescription drug strategy to help families afford the medications they need — and phase out the “evergreening” of patent drugs so cheaper generics are available sooner, saving money for patients, hospitals and provinces.
  • Stop privatization – Forge a new deal with provinces that links reliable federal health transfers to commitments that such funding not subsidize for-profit health care.
  • The health conditions facing First Nations communities are a direct Federal responsibility. There is clearly a need for more preventative health care, mental health care and services such as home care for First Nations communities.

In a country as developed as ours there is simply no excuse for the health care conditions we face in Northern Manitoba.