Gamechangers

Imagining a government that works for Canadians

Trudeau and Scheer argue over who’s worst while Singh offers better

Liberals and Conservatives are at it again — arguing over who’s worst.

Last week Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and Liberal Finance Minister Bill Morneau got into a twitter dust-up over whose cuts to health care transfers are worse.

Scheer and Morneau were so focused on scoring partisan points they probably didn’t realize they were showing Canadians that they’re both bad.

While Liberals and Conservatives are stuck in their partisan tunnel vision, poll after poll shows that Canadians want health care expanded, not cut.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has committed that a government led by him would expand health care, starting with a comprehensive, single-payer pharmacare system.

Canadians — especially patients and families who worry and dig into their pockets to pay for health care — deserve a lot better than choosing between bad and worse. And of course, they don’t have to.

Singh has pitched his pharmacare plan as a first step toward “head to toe” health care, which would include dental care and eye care. Singh has previously argued health care needs to include mental health care and addictions care.

But Liberals and Conservatives continue to go in the opposite direction.

Chretien cut health care transfers. Then Harper cut more. Trudeau kept Harper’s cuts. Now, Morneau, without irony — or, apparently, any self-awareness — complains that Scheer will keep the Harper cuts that Trudeau kept.

In the 1990s, the Chretien Liberals radically cut health transfers to provinces to free up money for several rounds of corporate tax cuts.

Then, in a fall 2004 First Ministers’ meeting, the minority Paul Martin government — scandal-plagued and down in the polls — agreed to restore some of those cuts by increasing the Canadian Health Transfer by six per cent a year for ten years. But even six per cent isn’t much above inflation plus population growth.

In 2014, when the Martin deal expired, the Stephen Harper government unilaterally imposed cuts — capping the annual CHT increase at three per cent, lower that inflation plus population growth.

As Finance Minister since 2015, Morneau has kept Harper’s CHT cuts.

Neither Trudeau or Scheer will commit to pharmacare. Both appear to be on the side of Big Pharma and insurance lobbyists, not the Canadian people.

Fortunately, Canadians don’t have to settle between bad and worse. Liberals and Conservatives may make life easier for the rich and harder for everyone else. But Singh’s plan to expand health care, starting with pharmacare, would make life easier for people.

Singh has also called for a wealth tax of one per cent on fortunes of more than $20 million.