Monday, December 19, 2011

Health care trial balloon

I think that's what today's Ibbitson column on future health care funding must be, a trial balloon. It is probably positioning by the Harper pros in advance of health care discussions starting this week between Flaherty and provincial finance ministers and that continue early in the new year with Harper. This is hard line: ministers meeting in Victoria on Monday will receive a stark message from Finance Minister Jim Flaherty: The second decade of the 21st century is turning into a mess. Everyone is going to suffer; no government can afford to spend more money; every government must instead spend less.
The fact remains that Ottawa simply doesn’t have the money to continue funding health care at present levels. The Harper government now confronts projections of economic stagnation as far as the eye can see.
Provinces looking to fund health care while paying down their deficit before Moody’s comes knocking on their door should not look to Ottawa for help. The feds have got enough problems of their own.
Any provinces in particular he might be referencing there? Just screams kumbaya, doesn't it?

Coming from a government that is spending questionably, it's all a bit rich. We don't have to rhyme off the programs over and over, we all know them by now. They may claim they have a mandate for such spending given the election but in times of financial "mess," they can't have it both ways. It's not credible to carry on spending regardless with certain programs then ask others to suffer. It's certainly not going to be a winner to take this position on cuts to health care while the usual Conservative priorities blossom. Which is why it seems a little hard to believe.

It seems more likely that they're softening up the public for changes in health care delivery, and it's early in these discussions: "My hope is that we can actually get the next accord done by this time next year," Duncan said." So, factor that in to the view via Ibbitson.