Health care fiasco is bad medicine

Earlier this week Premier Christy Clark and her provincial counterparts were tearing their hair out over the health care funding fiasco

Health care fiasco is bad medicine

Earlier this week Premier Christy Clark and her provincial counterparts were tearing their hair out over the health care funding fiasco that federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has dropped in their laps.

In the dying moments of 2011 Flaherty side-stepped the mistletoe and decked health ministers across the land with a funding formula fait accompli. He decreed that health transfers will continue to rise by six per cent annually until 2017, but then they will be tied to annual gross domestic product growth, plus inflation, until 2024.

Flaherty said he didn’t have to negotiate this deal because this transfer was a one-way street. Just about every provincial finance minister — with the exception of B.C.’s — cried Grinch.

Desperate in December for Tory friends to help shore up B.C.’s liberally lop-sided free enterprise coalition and desperate to charm Ottawa for a break on repayment of the $1.6-billion HST bonus, our finance minister folded like Superman on laundry day.

Kevin Falcon endorsed Flaherty’s terms saying that the security of a six-per-cent increase would give B.C. comfort as it prepares for the reduced increases.

Let’s jump ahead to last week. Thursday evening, Clark and Harper were courting each other with warm smiles over Tim Horton’s coffee at her son’s hockey game. Gosh, the pictures posted after the rendezvous made it look like they were going steady.

However, Clark woke up Friday with a political headache. She went to work and declared that Flaherty’s plan “is going to be pretty devastating for seniors in our province.” She said she had told Harper to change course.

Clark maintains that B.C. has more seniors than anywhere else in Canada and therefore our per capita health care costs are higher and federal transfers need to be re-calculated accordingly.

“This is a discussion we need to have with the federal government. I started that discussion personally with the prime minister (Thursday) night and it’s something I am really profoundly concerned about,” she said.

“If the federal government vacates the responsibility for looking after senior citizens, we’ve got a big problem.”

I’m pretty sure a special deal for aging B.C. did not sit well with Clark’s visiting counterparts this week, nor with the PM and his hardline finance minister.

Striking fear in the hearts of B.C. seniors made for good media sound bites this week, but Clark’s premise is totally bogus. As it happens B.C. is now, and will continue to be, in the middle of the pack when it comes to Canada’s rate of aging.

The median age in B.C. is 40.8 years. In five other provinces it is marginally higher and in the four other provinces it is marginally lower.

By 2021, slightly more than 18 per cent of British Columbians will be 65 or older. That will be equal to or lower than seven other provinces.

There’s no need to freak out the old folks when the math is scary all by itself. Ottawa’s Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page calculates that the Flaherty coup will cost the provinces $31 billion.

He says the new health plan dumps so much cost onto the backs of the provinces that Ottawa will actually be able to eliminate its structural deficit as a result. Page further calculates that the provinces will need to quickly raise $49 billion through tax hikes and spending cuts in order to avoid a debt spiral.

That’s enough bad medicine for young and old. M

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Scaredy Cats television series has turned Empress Avenue in Fernwood into a Halloween themed neighbourhood. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Trick or treat! Halloween comes to Fernwood in January

New television series Scaredy Cats filming in Victoria

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

Braden Holtby’s new mask designed in collaboration with Luke Marston and David Gunnarsson. (Mike Wavrecan photo)
Vancouver Island Coast Salish artist unveils new mask for Canucks goalie

Braden Holtby’s new mask features artwork by Luke Marston inspired by the legend of the seawolf

Comox-based cinematographer Maxwel Hohn’s new documentary captures the lives of Vancouver Island’s coastal wolves. Photo courtesy Maxwel Hohn.
New mini-documentary shot on Vancouver Island echoes the ‘call of the coastal wolves’

Photography heavyweights from B.C. come together for Maxwel Hohn’s second wildlife documentary

The 2021 Victoria Film Festival includes Vancouver Island produced feature film All-in Madonna. The festival looks a bit different this year, but film-lovers can still expect a full and diverse lineup. (Courtesy of VFF)
Victoria Film Festival returns with virtual viewing

Lineup features 50 films including Vancouver Island-produced All-in Madonna

Dr. John Hooper is the new conductor of Island Voices. Photo supplied
Island Voices welcomes new conductor

Dr. John Hooper to lead mid-Island based choir

Jorie Benjamin does a modern dance performance to ‘La Vie en rose’ by Édith Piaf, Louis Gugliemi and Marguerite Monnot, choreographed by Elise Sampson during the Cowichan Music Festival’s Highlights Concert at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on March 1, 2020. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Music Festival cancelled for 2021

The festival had already been limited to solo performances only for 2021

<em>Chinook Salmon: Breaking Through</em> by B.C.’s Mark Hobson was selected among 13 entries as the winner of the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Salmon Stamp Competition.
Stained-glass lighting casts a win to B.C. salmon artist

Painting of chinook is Mark Hobson’s third win in annual contest

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”. The natural photo art for the album includes Vancouver Island mountains, rivers and beaches. Scenes from the Cowichan River, Witchcraft Lake, Pipers Lagoon, Wall Beach and other popular Island recreation destinations accentuate the album. (RICHIErichieRichie Music Publishing photo)
Serenity Now! Richie Valley debuts third LP dubbed Apollonian

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”

Victoria artist Noah Layne is conducting online workshops on portrait drawing as part of the Metchosin ArtPod’s About Face portrait show. (Photo courtesy of Noah Layne)
Metchosin Art Pod doing an about-face

Renowned artist Noah Layne hosting online classes in portrait drawing

This weekend Amy Pye is holding a virtual book launch for her latest children’s book, <em>Bruce the Silly Goose</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Victoria writer and illustrator pens children’s book about COVID-19 safety

Amy Pye to hold online book launch for ‘Bruce the Silly Goose’

The pantomime ‘Snow White and the 5 Dwarfs’ has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Submitted)
Pantomime cancelled in Cowichan due to COVID restrictions

A partnership of the Cowichan Musical Society, the Shawnigan Players, and the Mercury Players.

A rendering shows the entrance planned for the Hornby Island Arts Centre. Image supplied
Work on Hornby Island Arts Centre to start this month

Community worked with award-winning architectural firm on design

Most Read