Prior to the election, the government pledged that a "top priority for a Liberal government will be preserving and protecting our universal Medicare system (and) maintaining the values that underpin it" (Liberal Party of Canada, 1993). The annommnek of the new Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST) in the February 27, 1995 budget speech by the Minister of Fiance, the Hon. Paul Martin, confirmed for HEAL that the federal government is preparing to substantially redefine its role in Canada's health system.
HEAL believes that a strong federal financial presence in the health system is essential in order to provide the leadership needed to maintain the national integrity of the system and guide its continued development. The major reforms being undertaken on the provincial and territorial health systems are changing the face of Medicare. The participation of the federal government, through a commitment to sustain significant cash support to help the provinces and territories manage the changes in a rational and coordinated manner, is vital. Without such support, the federal government profoundly weakens its credibility in attempting to ensure national standards for health.
It is therefore appropriate to now consider the key elements for a new transfer arrangement for health in Canada.
Accordingly, the purpose of this brief is to express HEAL's serious concerns about the federal government's continued withdrawal of funding from the health system. This brief will outline a viable and realistic approach to health system funding that will create a stable and predictable environment for the health system.