Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Danielle Martin discusses the importance of federal involvement in Canada's public health care system:
Whose job is it to co-ordinate health-care reform in Canada? Canadians expect our federal government to play that role. We want to know that wherever we live, we will have access to an equivalent basket of services. We want to know that our governments are buying in bulk whenever possible, maximizing savings. And we want assurances that some basic standards are being met from coast to coast to coast. Health care may be a provincial responsibility, but we know there’s a need for a family to co-ordinate its efforts.
(T)he 2012 federal budget cut Health Canada, and said nothing about meaningful change. The only nod to improving the system was a three-year, $6.5-million study on cost-effectiveness in health care.

But that ignores the mountains of evidence we already have about how to improve our health-care system while making it more efficient. It’s becoming baffling to Canadians as to why our federal government wouldn’t co-ordinate a national pharmacare system that could save billions. Everyone knows you get a better deal if you buy in bulk.
Canadians are still optimistic about our health-care system. Most of us believe it’s the best in the world. We’re happy with a publicly funded system. A lot of us think that it takes care of our most vulnerable, and that it will be there for us if we’re ill or injured.

It makes you wonder why the federal government wouldn’t want to fight for that system, and lead the transformation needed to keep Canada ahead of the pack on health care. Canadians take pride in their health-care system — so should their government.
- Doug Cuthand highlights some of the important and inexpensive programs the Cons are attacking in the name of austerity (but with the poorly-veiled goal of eliminating accurate information on inequality in Canada) - with First Nations in particular standing to suffer from the Cons' bias:
The budget speech is all about putting a good face on what's in the document, with the nasty details buried to be dug out later. We learned from the budget speech that the First Nations Statistical Institute is gone. Next came the announcement that the National Health organization will shut down in June because its funding was cut completely.

As well, the National Council of Welfare has been scrapped. It was the only federal agency that had an exclusive mandate to improve the lives of poor people.

So what's happening? The Harper government is using austerity as an excuse to clean house and get rid of programs that were either supported by the Liberals or could provide valuable information to advocacy groups. In the process, aboriginal people are becoming collateral damage.
Unfortunately, we have a federal government that is more interested in spin and deception than in consultation and democratic institutions. The Aboriginal Healing Foundation is gone in addition to NAHO and the statistical institute. One can't help but wonder where this will lead us.

The prime minister's reaction to the housing crisis at Attawapiskat was a clear indication that he can't tolerate bad news. He blamed the community and its leadership. He sent in an auditor and put the onus on the community. Will this be the reaction to other First Nations that speak out about their sorry living conditions?

Now we have to wait for the next shoe to drop. The word in the colonial office is that the government will make an announcement next week about grants and contributions. This is the money that flows to the First Nations and political organizations. Can we expect cuts? You bet we can. Just how deep the cuts will go is the question.
- Meanwhile, Dave points out the Centre for Plant Health, another of the casualties of the Cons' war on science. And Tim Harper raises his own concerns, while noting that the NDP is well positioned to claim the title of party best placed to provide responsible government if the Cons' cuts lead to predictable health and safety consequences.

- Crawford Kilian optimistically thinks there's a conservative soul to be saved through a splinter party from the Cons.

- Susan Delacourt proposes that political marketing and advertising be subject to publicly-enforceable standards.

- Finally, Dr. Dawg recognizes that there's only so much we can accomplish through a political system which the Cons are entirely happy to trash. But I'd see that problem as part of the reason why unofficial gathering places and a consistent flow of information to counter the Cons' publicly-funded propaganda - whether online or otherwise - are absolutely needed to help muster a movement to change course.

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