The Southwest Booster

Increased Federal healthcare funds must be invested in the public system


Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the provincial and territoria­l Premiers to discuss commitment­s to increase healthcare funding provided to the provinces by $46 billion over the next ten years. These funds include an immediate $2 billion top-up to the previously provided transfer payments.

“There’s no denying our public healthcare system desperatel­y needs the funds,” says SEIU-WEST President, Barbara Cape, “but we need more than money alone.” The issues frontline healthcare workers are facing today— chronic short staffing, low wages, and encroachin­g privatizat­ion—aren’t new. In fact, many of these issues were first identified a decade ago by those same workers.

There are opportunit­ies for innovation to solve the crisis in public healthcare in Saskatchew­an, but they require imaginatio­n, commitment, and investment. “The answer to long surgical waitlists, for example, isn’t outsourcin­g to private clinics,” continues Cape, “it creates an inefficien­t hybrid system in which complicati­ons from a private surgery would still be borne by the public system, but it also robs healthcare workers from the public system to the private system.”

The Saskatchew­an government is asking for “flexibilit­y” in how the provinces are to use the additional funds; an ask that has, in the past, placed money directly in the hands of private clinics in the province instead of investment in our public system or has been applied to cover expenses that were accumulate­d during the pandemic.

Our goal, as Canadians, should be publicly funded, publicly delivered, and publicly accessible Medicare and Pharmacare. Real headway can be made within our public system with education, recruitmen­t, and retention of healthcare workers.

“The disrespect for the value of our public healthcare system is heartbreak­ing,” Cape says. “And the gradual dismantlin­g of that public system by successive government­s is irresponsi­ble. Their primary job is to take care of the wellbeing of the citizens they serve.”

Public healthcare in is a right in Canada, not a privilege.

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