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Federal Budget 2016: what about health care? By Vassy Kapelos
When it comes to what Canadians care about, one thing keeps topping the list: their health.
In fact, in an Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News before last weekâ€™s federal budget, Canadians ranked spending more on health care as their top priority out of 15 choices.
â€œPeople have concerns about health care, itâ€™s a perennial problem in Canada,â€ Ipsos CEO Darrel Bricker said. â€œThey look at government as being best able to solve that through spending.â€
But the budget left health care advocates like Adrienne Silnicki, with the Canadian Health Coalition, wanting more.
â€œI thought, â€˜OK, the Liberals have won. Weâ€™ll see strong federal leadership again,’â€ she said. â€œThis budget shows that theyâ€™re just not interested.â€
There is money in the budget for things like tackling menâ€™s health, improving heart health for women and enhancing food safety.
But, itâ€™s whatâ€™s not in the budget thatâ€™s raising a red flag.
During the election, the Liberals promised $3 billion over four years for home care. That money isnâ€™t in the budget.
â€œWe have seniors being kept in hospital beds simply because we do not have the resources to care for them in our communities,â€ NDP health critic Don Davies said in question period Thursday. â€œWhy are Liberals abandoning their promise to invest in home care when this money is so badly needed?â€
Health Minister Jane Philpott insisted the money is still on the table and sheâ€™s working towards an agreement with her provincial and territorial counterparts.
â€œWe are working every day toward a new long-term agreement that will include a number of initiatives, including a $3-billion investment in home care,â€ she said. â€œWe look forward to announcing that once the agreement has been undertaken.â€
A spokesperson for Philpott told Global News work is being done to improve health services, including home care.
â€œItâ€™s critical that we get this right,â€ Dave Clements wrote in an email. â€œWe had a very productive first meeting in January with health ministers and will be meeting again in the coming months. In the meantime, discussions continue at the departmental level.â€
But critics are also disappointed the budget didnâ€™t say more about a new health accord. Liberals pledged to negotiate one with provinces, and thereâ€™s mention of that in the budget; but, thereâ€™s no money set aside for it.
The budget also doesnâ€™t reverse cuts to federal transfers planned under the Harper government.
The Tories changed the formula for health care money Ottawa sends provinces. The new formula could mean as much as $36 billion less for provinces over the next decade.
â€œIf there isnâ€™t money in there, weâ€™re not going to get that strong health accord that people desperately need,â€ Silnicki said.
Philpott wasnâ€™t available for an interview Monday, but Clements said the budget is very good for the health and well-being of Canadians, pointing out that growing the middle class and lifting Canadians out of poverty is vital to improving their health.