March 25, 2004 BY FACSIMILE
Hon. John Hamm
Premier of Nova Scotia
P.O. Box 726
Halifax, N.S. B3J 2T3
Dear Premier Hamm:
I am writing on behalf of the many individuals and organizations that are part of the Nova Scotia Citizens Health Care Network to express our strong opposition to your recently reported statements about the possible need for more privatization to help deal with federal health care funding shortfall. As the head of a government which has stated its support for universal, accessible health care in accordance with the principles of the Canada Health Act, we think you should be ashamed of even making such a proposal.
We share your concerns about the failure of the federal government to properly fund health care at least to the 25% level as recommended in the Romanow Commission. In our view, the federal government has failed to recognize the importance of moving its share of health care funding to at least that level when it could do so on the basis of the surpluses available to the federal government in both last years and this years budgets.
However, proposing more privatization will do little to change their position and only serves the interests of the existing governments committed to privatization such as Alberta, B.C. and Quebec at the expense of smaller provinces such as our own. We think what is needed is a massive show of provincial, territorial and public support for the full implementation of the Romanow Report including but not limited to moving to 25% federal cost-sharing including a built-in escalator provision. We think this is especially important leading up to and during the upcoming federal election campaign.
As the Romanow Commission reported, for-profit health care costs more, provides a lower quality of care and is less accessible and accountable for most people. For example, recent peer-reviewed research has demonstrated that at least 2000 more Canadians would die needlessly each year if hospitals were privatized. It simply does not work to help reduce the current funding difficulties we are facing and will serve to make matters worse.
Besides strongly advocating for the full implementation of the Romanow Commission report, we urge your government to work closely with health care providers, communities, organizations and individuals to explore all possible ways to strengthen and improve public health care without having to resort to more privatization. For example, we have already proposed to the Minister of Health in December a number of needed directions.
These directions include a comprehensive wait list management strategy, an extensive health human resource strategy, restoration of acute care beds back to 1992-93 levels, expansion of home care, stopping the downloading of costs of Seniors Pharmacare on to seniors, and addressing the significant loss of services in rural communities and developing meaningful alternatives including a network of community health centres such as the proposed Lockeport Centre. In addition, if the situation is as serious as you suggest, we also urge the rescinding of the 10% tax reduction that is to start this year, stopping the increasing number of management staff at the expense of front-line workers, ending the use of outside private consultants such as Corpus Sanchez at the CDHA and bringing forward legislated whistleblower protections.
All in all, the Nova Scotia Citizens Health Care Network sees any moves to further privatization as completely unnecessary and worse still, as very destructive to the future of publicly funded and operated health care. We strongly urge you to drop any further consideration or support for such a position in favour of taking all possible steps to strengthen public health care.
Debbie L. Kelly
Nova Scotia Citizens Health Care Network
c. Hon. Angus MacIsaac, Minister of Health
Darrell Dexter, NDP Leader
Wayne Gaudet, Interim Liberal Leader
Maureen MacDonald, NDP Health Critic
Dave Wilson, Liberal Health Critic
Kathleen Connors, Chairperson, Canadian Health Coalition