End of Canada Health Accord results in protests
Protesters believe ending deal in favour of increased transfer payments will result in less money
People turned out to protest across New Brunswick and Canada Monday, upset with the federal government for allowing the Canada Health Accord to expire.
Protesters say the federal government has refused to meet provincial leaders about negotiating a new accord, and predict provincial health budgets will be hurt.
People are angry that the Canada Health Accord — worth $41 billion over the past 10 years —- expired Monday. Instead, Ottawa will increase transfer payments to the provinces by six per cent a year for the next three years, claiming that healthcare is a provincial responsibility.
Protest organizer Morris Shannon said that means less money.
"What it means to New Brunswick is that over the next 10 years we’re going to lose approximately $715 million in payments from the federal government for healthcare," he said.
Shannon predicts that will mean more more cuts in nursing staff and more bed closures.
One of the protesters was the Marilyn Quinn, president of the New Brunswick Nurses Union.
"It would put great stress on the healthcare system that is already burdened, at a time when our population is aging. We’re concerned about the outcome. We believe that the federal government has an obligation, they need to show leadership and it starts with signing a new accord with the provinces."
New Brunswick Green Party leader David Coon says the new funding system is unfair.
"Unilaterally, Stephen Harper said, not going to negotiate a new accord, we're not going to have a Canada Health Accord anymore and we're just going to transfer money on a per capital basis. That means provinces like Alberta with a relatively young population is going to have way more health transfer money than they really require and New Brunswick is going to be short."
Premier David Alward was questioned about the end of the accord in the House on Friday — and says he's done all he can.
"Myself, along with other premiers stood up against that Mr. Speaker. We continue to do that across the country."
Money for health care is only one concern. Protesters are also worried that Ottawa and the provinces no longer share a common vision of what medicare should be.