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Nurses urge First Ministers to negotiate a new Health Accord as 2004 Accord set to expire; CFNU releases report on the sustainability of Medicare

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Wed, 2010-08-04

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 3, 2010

Nurses urge First Ministers to negotiate a new Health Accord as 2004 Accord set to expire; CFNU releases report on the sustainability of Medicare.

OTTAWA  – As the Council of the Federation meet this week, Canada's nurses want the Premiers to place the renegotiation of the 2004 Health Accord at the top of their agenda. While the 2004 Health Accord expires in 2014, it is essential for all stakeholders to know what a successor agreement would contain for longer-term planning and the continuity of services.

"We can't afford the uncertainty that short-term arrangements bring where everyone wonders what will happen in the next couple of years or so," said Linda Silas, President of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU).

Silas remembers the negotiation of the 2004 agreement as a watershed moment for the Council of the Federation. "For the last few years, that landmark agreement has provided some stability and leadership as Premiers of all political stripes showed they could work together," said Silas. "We need them to do that again."

"It is time we moved beyond bandaids toward permanent, indexed arrangements for health care delivery. Canadians who keep placing Medicare at the top of their priorities expect nothing less," Silas added.

The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions have specific recommendations for a new agreement. A new Health Accord must:

  • Improve and extend the position of the federal government in funding Medicare;
  • Provide opportunities for improvements within a publicly funded and delivered system;
  • Make investments in home care and long-term care;
  • Establish a national, universal Pharmacare plan.

Today, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions is releasing a report by economist Hugh Mackenzie and health policy expert Dr. Michael Rachlis on the sustainability of Medicare. The report was commissioned by the CFNU to give context to the premiers' upcoming health care discussions and to dispel the myth that Medicare is not sustainable. Mackenzie and Rachlis examine the economics of Canada’s health care system in the context of its history, international experience and future challenges including population aging. Backed by the evidence, they conclude that our health care system is indeed “as sustainable as we want it to be.”  

"Canadians are being told that growing provincial health care costs are crowding out other programs and outstripping provinces’ ability to pay," Mackenzie said. "The data show that tax cuts and reductions in other spending have distorted the picture. Indeed, public health spending as a percentage of Canada's economic output is remarkably stable and is expected to remain so. The real problem is that tax cuts have reduced our ability to pay for the health care we need."

(The report, The Sustainability of Medicare, has been delivered to the Premiers and may be read here)

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CFNU office – 613-526-4661
Linda Silas, CFNU President – 613-859-4314 (cell)
Sean Dillon-Fordyce, CFNU Communications – 613-277-4757 (cell)
Bill Crawford, Manitoba Nurses Union Communications – 204-942-1320