The federal government is pulling a 180 on public health care.
Labour Minister Rona Ambrose will now appoint an arbitrator, who will have 90 days to hand in a final decision on a new agreement. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand/ file
When Rona Ambrose delivered her speech to delegates at the Canadian Medical Association’s annual meeting in Calgary Monday, she sounded off clearly on her intent to be directly involved in revisions to the country’s system.
“Our policy challenge — one which I plan to lead in my tenure as health minister — (is) improving our system in a way that will maintain the integrity ... but capture productivity gains so our system is sustainable,” she said at the conference.
Ambrose’s overtures on health care seem to be in defiance of her own party’s actions over the past year. In April of this year, the feds announced they would be terminating funding to the Health Council of Canada (HCC).
According to the HCC’s own website, the organization’s “role is to let Canadians and their governments know how progress towards the vision laid out in the health accords is coming along, to better enable decision-making at all levels.”
In the very least, the move to cut funding to an organization whose role it is to facilitate development and innovation through detailed progress reports seems counterintuitive when the goal is to find new ways to innovate.
Granted, that decision was made under a different minister — Ambrose was only appointed to the portfolio in the most recent cabinet shuffle some weeks ago — but it was made nonetheless.
To throw salt on the wound, the Harper government has also been lambasted by CUPE, which argues it has laid dormant while dozens of violations against the Canada Health Act have been perpetrated across the country.
There comes a point where the talk and the walk don’t appear to be syncing up. The Conservative Party has reached that point.
Should Ambrose’s comments stand as an indication of some sort of turning point and a renewed commitment in Medicare, perhaps they will have been worth the paper they were drafted on.
Canadians should watch the portfolio closely. If this is a case of simply talking a good fight but failing to take meaningful action, it is the public that will need to hold the government accountable.
All editorials are written by the Times-Herald editorial staff.