Dear Editor,

With Canada facing an important step in our medicare history next month, the federal government is ignoring the calls of the provinces, territories and citizens groups to work on a deal.

In March, the current health care accord the deal that sets funding and health care service delivery agreements between the federal and provincial and territorial governments expires and must be renegotiated. Medicare used to be funded through a 50 50 cost sharing plan between the federal government and the provinces and territories. Today, the provinces cover 80 per cent of health care costs. This amount will increase when the federal governments funding cuts are implemented.

I encourage members of the public to get involved in the call for federal leadership on a 2014 Canada Health Accord. We need the Harper government to take responsibility for health care expenditures. There are several areas of the health care system that could be improved.

Develop national standards for health care programs such as homecare and continuing care and tie the implementation of those standards to federal transfer payments to the provinces and territories.

Money from the transfers should be used to strengthen our health care system, including its public, not-for-profit delivery in publicly-owned infrastructure.

Provide universal and comprehensive care. Those living in Canada should have universal access to all medically necessary services including dental, vision, and mental health services.

Save Canadians billions of dollars a year by ensuring access to prescription drugs across Canada through the creation of a national pharmacare plan.

Protect health care from all trade negotiations. Health care needs to be protected from the for-profit interests of foreign companies.

Please write to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and remind him to honour the Conservative Partys election promise of a six per cent increase in health transfer payments to provincial and territorial governments for the duration of another 10-year Health Accord.

Lynn Askey

Secretary, Columbia Valley Retired Teachers