EDITORIAL: Old rhetoric won’t fix health care

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Canada’s health-care system was being held together with spit and baling wire before the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Almost three years later, it’s on its knees.

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On Tuesday, provincial health ministers said no progress was made on more funding for health care after a two-day meeting with Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclo in Vancouver.

They now want a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

But what Canada needs is health-care reform from the ground up.

Canadians, through taxes, pay some of the highest per capita costs for health care in the developed world, while facing some of the longest wait times for treatment.

Access to waiting lists isn’t access to health care.

A shortage of chronic care beds means patients are backed up in the hallways of acute care hospitals, because chronic care patients have nowhere to go.

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A shortage of family doctors means families end up in hospital emergency rooms for hours on end — where costs skyrocket.

A shortage of nurses results in burned out and demoralized staff.

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Canada’s health-care outcomes are mediocre compared to similar countries with universal health care.

What are they doing right — excluding the US, which doesn’t have universal health care? What are we doing wrong?

The battle lines between Ottawa and the provinces haven’t changed in decades.

The provinces always demand more money from Ottawa.

They argue the federal government used to fund 50% of the costs of health care, it’s now down to 22% and they want it restored to 35%, an increase of over $40 billion.

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Ottawa says this ignores increased revenues from transferring federal tax points to the provinces to fund health care and while it’s willing to increase funding, it needs assurances the new money will be spent effectively.

This isn’t problem solving. It’s blame shifting.

The status quo isnt working.

Health care is the largest expenditure in provincial budgets.

Pouring more money down a black hole because the template for funding is broken is the wrong way to go.

We need to examine how medical services can be most efficiently provided — whether the service comes from the public or private sector — as long as government is the sole payer.

What we’re likely to get is more of the same.

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