January 13, 2011; Health is a Top Priority for Our Community.
Health is a Top Priority for Our Community.
By Paul Dewar, MP, Ottawa Centre .
“A national prescription drug strategy could save up to $10.7 billion per year for Canadians.”
Healthcare has always been a top priority for our community. We also take a wide view of what constitutes a healthy life – beginning from everyday choices on eating and exercising to long-term determinants such as access to affordable housing, poverty alleviation, improving access to health services and increasing the number of trained health professionals at the community level.
The Conservative government has demonstrated a lack of leadership when it comes to improving the health of Canadians and our health care system. In 2006, they promised to tackle the issue of hospital wait times. That promise appears to have been completely abandoned.
New Democrats are committed to strengthening and improving our universal, not-for-profit health care system, a system that is the pride of Canadians. We also believe it’s time for a national pharmacare and a home-care program, a new emphasis on wellness, and greater emphasis on the recruitment of family doctors.
Canada is the world’s third-most expensive country for brand name drugs. Pharmaceuticals are the country’s fastest rising health care cost. In the UK and New Zealand, two countries that have universal drug insurance programs, people spend half of what Canadians spend on the same medications.
A national prescription drug strategy could save up to $10.7 billion per year for Canadians. Canada and the US are now the world’s only developed nations without national drug strategies.
Home care is another health initiative that has been long over-due. Too many Canadians occupy expensive hospital beds when they could be receiving care at home or in long term care facilities. Not only would hospital beds be opened, surgery wait times would be reduced and patients could be at home with their families.
At the same time, we must ensure that Canadians who care for their loved ones at home are adequately supported and that more investments are made towards not for- profit home care for seniors and people with disabilities.
We also need to focus on prevention by encouraging healthy choices and combating air pollution. This requires work on many different levels such as public education campaigns, improving access to housing, public transit and better food, while implementing stronger environmental regulations that target big polluters.
Access to family doctors is becoming increasingly difficult. Currently, five million Canadians do not have a family doctor. Many medical students in our country are interested in becoming family doctors, but after incurring large student debts, they simply cannot afford to become a family doctor instead of choosing a specialty.
Addressing the issue of family doctor shortage requires greater funding from the federal and provincial governments for Canadian universities; addressing student loan issues by providing needs based grants; continuing to work with the Canadian Medical Association; and working to recognize the credentials of foreign trained medical professionals. To that end, I have introduced legislation that would facilitate the recognition of foreign trained professionals so that no one’s training and credentials are wasted.
I will continue to defend our universal, not-for-profit health care system and demand that the Harper government take action to improve the health of Canadians.