Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised to maintain annual increases of six per cent during the election campaign this past spring. Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty also committed to keeping the six per cent escalator for the duration of any new agreement with the provinces during the election. However, Flaherty put the provinces on notice at Monday’s meeting with his provincial and territorial counterparts that the Federal government would be linking future health transfers to nominal growth in GDP, which is estimated to be around four per cent in coming years.

“This change will have a profoundly negative impact on health care in Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Furlong. “As noted in the last Auditor General’s report, 21 per cent of our provincial budget ($1.5 billion) is a result of health and social transfers and cost shared programs. Reducing transfers in this area will severely limit our province’s ability to improve the quality and accessibility of health care.”

“This decision is a direct result of Harper’s obsession with reducing corporate taxes for some of the wealthiest corporations in the world. The Harper government is more interested in rewarding their corporate friends than improving the health care system for Canadians,” Furlong stated. “We are left to wonder if this is not part of a broader Harper agenda to erode the Medicare program, with a view to increased privatization.”

The Harper government has dramatically reduced taxes on large corporations, which has resulted in approximately $12 billion in lost tax revenue since 2006.

“I believe the Federal Finance Minister intentionally chose Christmas week to announce future cuts in transfer payments hoping people would be so wrapped-up in the season they wouldn’t pay attention to this issue,” continued Furlong. “Harper may very well be the 21st century’s Scrooge.”

For further information please contact:
Keith Dunne, NAPE Campaigns and Communications Coordinator
(phone) 709.570.2501 (e-mail)