Sask. Health Coalition slams feds for letting Health Accord expire

Across the country today groups are rallying to protest the end of Canada's Health Accord.

Group warns province will lose more than $100 million annually in federal health transfers

Dr. Ryan Meili and Stan Rice speak at a rally today in Saskatoon, marking the expiry of Canada's Health Accord. (Kathy Fitzpatrick/CBC)

Across the country today groups are rallying to protest the end of Canada's Health Accord.

In Saskatoon, the Saskatchewan Health Coalition and Canadian Doctors for Medicare joined forces to put their message out. They warned Saskatchewan alone will lose more than $100 million annually in federal health transfers, over a 10-year period starting in 2017.

The groups are criticizing the Harper government for not negotiating a new health accord with the provinces and territories. Instead, they said, it struck out on its own with a funding formula that will reduce health transfers by about $36-billion over that same time frame.

Health care funding and standards of service will decline as the province's health care budget grows ever tighter, said Dr. Ryan Meili, vice-chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare.

"If you are needing home care and you don't have access to that for you or your loved ones this decision to walk away from the table and to abandon the health accord is going to make that situation worse," Meili said.

When the Health Accord was signed 10 years ago, the federal government's share of health care spending had dropped to just over 10 per cent, the groups said. The accord brought that up to 20 per cent. Now the groups fear the proportion will slip back.

They also said the Canada Health Act only guarantees hospital and doctor services.  They are looking for a federal-provincial deal that sets priorities for improvements in certain areas. The now-expired accord set five key areas: primary health care, home care, catastrophic drug coverage, access to diagnostic/medical equipment and information technology along with electronic health records.

"The abandonment of the federal role will lead to a fragmentation of services across the country, and access to care will depend on where you live and you or your province's ability to pay," said Stan Rice, chair of the Saskatchewan Health Coalition.

He said the Canadian Health Coalition will follow today's rallies with a national speakers tour.


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