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Michael Ignatieff makes strong commitment to the future of health care in open letter to Canadians

In an announcement at the Juravinski Hospital in Hamilton, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff addressed his open letter to Canadians on the future of health care by calling on Stephen Harper to break his silence about his plans for the replacement of the 2014 Health Accord.

This article was taken from the Liberal Party of Canada’s website, April 8, 2011.

HAMILTON – In an announcement at the Juravinski Hospital in Hamilton, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff addressed his open letter to Canadians on the future of health care by calling on Stephen Harper to break his silence about his plans for the replacement of the 2014 Health Accord.
“Stephen Harper’s out-of-control spending commitments for 2014 and beyond will leave no money for health care,” said Mr. Ignatieff. “Instead of wasteful spending on jets, jails and corporate tax cuts, the Liberal Party is making another choice: investing in health care so that it’s there when every Canadian family needs it.

“A Liberal government will be at the table for health care, to work with the provinces and territories by tackling head-on two challenges: rising health costs and variations in the quality and availability of care across Canada,” said Mr. Ignatieff. “We will invest in health care beyond 2014, so that provinces can get on with the job of reforming our health care system.”

As part of a new arrangement with the provinces and territories, a Liberal government will continue the current 6% health care funding escalator beyond 2014, and have two priorities for health care reform:

Homecare services: Ensuring high-quality care in the home, including for priority areas like mental health and palliative care, everywhere in Canada; and

Drug coverage: Reducing the cost of prescription drugs for the health care system and ensuring that every Canadian – from coast to coast to coast – has adequate drug coverage.

In the Liberal Platform, the Liberal Party has also committed to providing direct support to Canadian families facing health challenges:

Family Care Plan: A $1,350 Family Care Tax Benefit, and the Family Care EI benefit to let you take time off to care for a loved one at home;

Canadian Brain Health Strategy: $100 million over the first two years of a Liberal government for research into treatments and cures for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia;

Health promotion and Canada’s first National Food Policy: Promoting exercise, healthy eating, nutrition, better food labeling, regulating salt and transfats, local farmers’ markets, Canadian food on Canadian plates, and improving the food inspection system; and

Improved rural health services: An additional $40 million over two years to improve rural health services in cooperation with provinces, territories, municipalities and medical professionals.

“Before May 2, Canadians need to know if Mr. Harper stands by his past comments in favour of scrapping the Canada Health Act,” said Mr. Ignatieff. “If these are no longer his views, I am calling on Mr. Harper to tell Canadians how he plans to defend and improve Canada’s health care system when replacing the Health Aaccord with the provinces and territories.”

Instead of a clear commitment to health care funding, Stephen Harper has made major spending commitments for 2014 and beyond that will leave inadequate funding behind for health care:

$30 billion for fighter jets;
$6 billion for annual, unnecessary tax cuts for large corporations;
$13 billion – and climbing – for U.S.-style mega-prisons;
$2.5 billion per year to pay for income splitting for better-off Canadians; and
Expanding tax-free savings accounts at a cost that will rise to billions annually.

“In this election, Canadians need to choose who they trust to defend health care,” said Mr. Ignatieff. “The Liberal Party’s commitment to universal, free, quality, timely health care remains unshakeable – but Stephen Harper has taken health care off the national agenda and done nothing to guarantee its future.”