Spend surplus on health care, not tax cuts and debt reduction, say 71 per cent in B.C. poll

News release

Alternative Federal Budget has prescription for ailing health care system A McIntyre & Mustel poll commissioned by the Hospital Employees' Union shows overwhelming support in B.C. for increased health care spending over debt reduction and tax cuts in this month's federal budget. Seventy-one per cent of those polled said Ottawa's first priority for the federal budgetary surplus should be to fully restore health care funding to the provinces that it has cut since 1995. Only 24 per cent said the first priority should be tax cuts and debt reduction. "B.C. cabinet ministers Hedy Fry, David Anderson and Herb Dhaliwal should pay careful attention to these results," says HEU president Fred Muzin. "If the budget fails to seriously address the chronic underfunding of health care, the credibility gap these politicians have on Medicare will widen significantly." The 2000 Alternative Federal Budget - to be released later today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives - has a prescription for healthy families that calls for boosted health care funding including new programs like home and community care and a national prescription drug plan. "Federal politicians have failed to address the growing social deficit that's resulted from years of program cuts," says Muzin. "The proposals would realign budget priorities with those held by British Columbians." The poll of 401 British Columbians was conducted during the week ending Dec. 20 and is considered accurate within five per cent, 19 times out of 20. The following question was asked: The federal government now has a large budget surplus. Some say Ottawa's first priority should be to fully restore health care funding for the provinces that is has cut since 1995. Others say Ottawa's first priority should be tax cuts and reduce the debt. Which comes closest to your own view? Restore health care funding 71% Tax cuts/debt reduction 24 % Don't know/refused 5 %