To a healthy New Year

While celebrating the start of the New Year, many Canadians take the time to set some New Years Resolutions. Many of those resolutions focus on eating healthier, exercising more, or perhaps cutting back on some bad habits. That’s why I thought it would be timely to discuss the topic of health care in Canada.

Health care is one of the topics that my constituents consistently identify as a key priority. It affects everyone, either themselves directly or a ‎family member. 

Every time I send out questionnaires on issues that are most important to constituents, health care is in the top three. Each and everyone of us has had to use the health care system at one time or another. 

Generally speaking, Canada’s health care system is one of the best in the world. I am quick to acknowledge that our system is not perfect; sometimes constituents feel they deserve better service, but this is the exception rather than the rule.

To clarify our political structure, the federal government does not directly operate and direct the expenditures of health care services. That is the role of our elected provincial governments. In our case, the Ontario government at Queen’s Park is responsible for organizing our hospitals and long-term care homes, among many other front line health care services.

In addition to national health research and having the lead on international health prevention programs, the federal government still plays a very important role in health care by providing billions of dollars each year in transfer payments to provincial governments for health and social services. 

Those receiving less than perfect service when they go to a hospital or to a doctor often believe that the poor service is due to lack of funding. I can assure you this is not the case with the federal government’s funding model. When we compare the funds invested in health care by our federal government here in Canada to other countries, it is evident there is solid financial support for the system to provide top quality care.

In 2015-16, the Government of Ontario will receive $20.4 billion through major transfers– an increase of $9.6 billion from 2005-06. Yes, you read that right: over $20 billion dollars is given to the Ontario government each year by the federal government to assist with health and social programs. And it is growing more each and every year going forward.

Comparatively, it is alarming to see how little investment is made in health care in some countries. I recently came across statistics from the World Bank that confirm this argument. It is shocking to note that the annual health care spending (in US dollars) per capita in Gambia is $26. Here are some other examples: 

Kenya spends $45

India $61

China $322 

South Africa $645 

Lebanon $675. 

Among G-7 countries: 

Italy $3,032

United Kingdom $3,647, 

Germany $4,683

France $4,690

and the United States spends $8,895 in their private, insurance-based health care system. 

In comparison, Canada spends $5,741 on our public universal health care system for every Canadian man, woman, and child.

I believe we are fortunate here in Canada when it comes to health care services. Locally in SDSG, we have two state of the art hospitals, great doctors and nurses, and a dedicated sector of health care workers ready to look after our needs. 

As your federal Member of Parliament, I will continue to ensure that we increase our financial transfers to provincial governments each and every year to maintain and provide good quality health care to you and your family. 

Last but not least, good luck with your New Years Resolutions!

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