Chretien urged to commit more money to Medicare and deliver it to the provinces by September

News release

Vital infusion of health care funding shouldn’t be delayed by Liberal’s re-election strategy or leadership intrigues, says HEU

VANCOUVER—On the eve of a crucial federal/provincial health ministers meeting, the Hospital Employees’ Union is calling on Prime Minister Jean Chretien to issue an iron clad commitment for increased federal funding that’s urgently needed to repair Canada’s public Medicare system, and set a concise time frame for the distribution of additional money for the provinces.

“The timing of increased funding should be driven by the urgent need to address problems in the system, not by the dictates of the Chretien’s re-election strategy or leadership intrigues within the federal Liberal caucus,” says Fred Muzin, president of the 46,000-member HEU.

In a letter to the Prime Minister sent today, Muzin told Chretien the public health system urgently needs more resources to help fund the progressive changes necessary to modernize Medicare. “So it’s critical,” says Muzin, “that your government restores federal dollars to public health care sooner rather than later.

“I encourage you to do the right thing: empower your health minister Allan Rock to issue a concrete federal commitment for increased funding to be released to the provinces and territories no later than the September First Ministers’ meeting so that work to protect and modernize Medicare can begin.”

The feds have the money, notes Muzin, as the surplus keeps rolling in higher than forecast. And he says HEU is supportive of the approach of B.C. health minister Mike Farnworth, who has advanced a progressive modernizing plan to target increased federal funding in a number of vital areas in the province like home and continuing care, information systems and new equipment, primary care reform, and a human resources strategy for nursing personnel including registered and licenced practical nurses.

Muzin says HEU also supports Farnworth’s efforts to revamp the Canada Health Act to give provinces more power and clout to deal with the controversial issue of private clinics.