To the editor,
Re: "CUPE misleading the public, says Shea" Journal Pioneer, Sept. 18, 2013, and "Gail Shea concerned CUPE spreading misinformation," Sept. 18, 2013
With respect, Minster Shea is the one spreading misinformation. The Harper Conservative government arbitrarily changed the formula for health care transfers to the provinces in December 2011. These changes will result in a cut of $36 Billion to health care across Canada, and a cut to P.E.I. of $144 million during 2014 - 2024.
The minister also neglects the fact that Ottawa is refusing to renew the 2004-2014 Health Accord. It was the federal-provincial Health Accord agreement that was responsible for the increases to health care funding to P.E.I. While the minister attempts to give credit to the Harper government, she fails to mention it had no other option.
The Harper government has announced it will cut the previous funding formula in half when the 2004 Health Accord expires next year. It will also eliminate the equalization provisions of the Canada Health Transfer and replace it with a straight per capita funding model. This change alone will cost P.E.I. $41.5 million over 10 years.
The Harper Conservatives plan will reduce the federal share of health funding from its current 20 per cent share to 18 per cent by 2024. So while the numbers may go up, in fact, Islanders will be getting less of their total funding from Ottawa. Will our province be able to pick up the slack? If recent developments are an indication, that's not very likely.
Medicare started as a 50-50 shared cost program. CUPE is joining with premiers in calling for a renewal of the 2004 Health Accord to bring federal health funding to 25 per cent of total spending.
Minister Shea needs to start standing up for Islanders by asking Prime Minister Harper to sit down at the table and negotiate a new Health Accord with the Premiers in 2014.
President, CUPE P.E.I.