NDP would review health system

Dave Bartlett
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Provincial NDP Leader Lorraine Michael (centre) speaks to reporters Monday morning about an independent review of this province’s health care system and the renewal of the current Canada Health Accord, which expires in 2014. Michael was joined by the NDP MP for Halifax, Megan Leslie (left), and the NDP’s candidate in St. John’s Centre, Gerry Rogers. — Photo by Dave Bartlett/The Telegram

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael says she doesn’t believe Premier Kathy Dunderdale has shown the leadership needed to renegotiate health transfers to this province from Ottawa.

In 2014, the current Canada Health Accord — which includes what the federal government pays provinces annually for health care — will expire.

On Monday, Michael held a news conference at the NDP’s  campaign headquarters in St. John’s to highlight her party’s campaign promise for a comprehensive and independent review of the province’s health care system and to talk about the importance of a new Canada Health Accord to ensure stable, long-term funding for medicare.

“These transfers are crucial because about 20 cents of every dollar (the province spends) on health care comes from Ottawa,” Michael told reporters.

With the province’s oil revenues forecasted to diminish in the next few years, she said the province cannot shoulder a higher percentage of health care costs without raising taxes or cutting other important services.

“We will need strong leadership to stand up to the (Stephen) Harper government and negotiate health care for our families,” Michael continued. “The health care system in this province is already facing some serious challenges.”

Those challenges include a shortage of specialists — especially outside of St. John’s — and long wait lists for some tests and treatments, she said.

“Kathy Dunderdale is not the strong voice we need to tell Sephen Harper he must protect and improve Newfoundland and Labrador’s health system,” Michael added.

During the spring’s federal election, Dunderdale gave Harper a “glowing endorsement,” Michael said, but about a month later a majority Conservative government announced the closure the Marine Rescue Sub Centre in St. John’s.

Megan Leslie, the NDP MP for Halifax and former federal NDP health critic, also spoke at the news conference.

“(Harper) and his government are not friends to medicare. They’re not friends to the health care system in Canada,” she said.

Leslie said public health care is too important to let “die a slow death,” and strong leadership at the provincial level is needed to stand up to the current federal government.

Michael also said the current provincial government has refused time and again to do a full review of the province’s health system.

“This government has had eight years to learn what this province’s people need from their health care system and it has squandered that time,” she said.

The NDP leader acknowledged such a review would cost a lot of money and would likely take between one and two years to complete.

But Michael said the money would be well spent, and would likely highlight how money could be allocated more efficiently in a restructured system.

When quizzed on what has been called an already unsustainable amount of health care spending she had this to say:

“The slice of the budget pie hasn’t changed. The money has gone up, but that’s because the budget has gone up. But the slice of the pie is the same,” she said.

Michael is scheduled to hit the road this morning and spend much of the last week of the provincial election campaign in regions of the province she’s yet to visit.

She plans to visit Labrador, the Clarenville-Bonavista area and “hopefully” central Newfoundland.

Michael has already made day trips down the Burin Peninsula and to the west coast of the island.



Organizations: NDP

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Ottawa, Canada

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Recent comments

  • mild rose
    October 05, 2011 - 00:15

    @wild rose - so lets propose you lose your income, for any reason, and can not afford insurance, medic bills, etc... and you have a child that has a enlarged heart and needs a transplant. you look at your child and say "sorry, but daddy doesnt work so ..." well you get the idea. you and i both know how quick you would change your opinion. did you ever see the movie john q? it's quite simple. if you don't like the way things are here, then move. take all this money you have and leave.

  • Joseph McGrath
    October 04, 2011 - 20:04

    I am considering which party to vote for.I agree with the development of The Lower Churchill even though I believe the cost will be far greater than projected.It will not benefit me very much as I am closing fast on my three score and ten.However I think that development will help make NL a world class energy player once we regain the Upper Churchill and with many other yet undiscovered resourses of many types are in production.The future belongs to my grandchildren and I feel an obligation to speak for them through my vote this time..If the NDP would cut the daily doses of promise making and just promise what is possible they could form the opposition and do a good job at it.As for the Liberals,I respect their candidates but they are just to fragmented at present.Mr.Alyward seems to be going it mostly alone so it is safe to say they will not govern for many years to come. Ms.Michael is doing her best but should trottle back on what she is promising and also at least give the Lower Churchill a very serious look.Govering this great province is going to be one great challenge for whomever is elected.I am still undecided but am growing weary of these campaign promises from everyone.i will be glad when the election is over and we can finally get on with making NL the great place it is to live.

  • Mindy
    October 04, 2011 - 13:04

    i will not vote NDP cause they the way they want to spend money does not seem to work for the middle person in out province. NDP seems to be all about the fixed income, seniors, single mothers, fishery etc. I work hard for my tax dollars and to have it pay for more reviews, I'm in favor of private clinics, if you can pay you should have a choice and then maybe it would take most of the stress and pressure off our present system.

    • Middle Person
      October 04, 2011 - 13:39

      Speaking as a “middle person,” and not one of those over-privileged "income, seniors, single mothers, fishery [sic.] etc," I’m just wondering, as well as taking the pressure off the “present” system, wouldn’t private clinics also drain off the nurses and doctors away from the unwashed masses? (I hope you didn't learn your English at a private school, ‘cause that would be a shame.)

    • It's our government, not theirs
      October 04, 2011 - 14:59

      Yeah, we should be spending it all on making more millionaires, rewarding greedy politicians, and building hydro damns that we don't need. What's this government done for the middle class? Unless you're an employee in the public service, not a heck of a lot.

  • California Pete from NFLD
    October 04, 2011 - 12:22

    I will take Obama care any day over Atlantic medical care

  • Graham
    October 04, 2011 - 10:21

    I'm with you Ken.. Change is long over due NDP all the way for me this time.

  • Ken
    October 04, 2011 - 08:15

    I have always voted PC's but now I will vote NDP. Time for a change.

  • Wild Rose
    October 04, 2011 - 07:34

    Enough of this socialist BS. We to move away from a state run nanny state system to a free enterprise one where those who work for a living can pay for the healthcare they deserve. Why should my taxes pay for single mothers who sit around all day? Also the majority of us voted for Harper and the last time I heard the MAJORITY RULES!

    • Mr. T
      October 04, 2011 - 08:31

      Yeah because the 'Free entrprise state BS' is working so well in the USA!!! I work hard, make good money, and live well, but I also have no problem paying taxes if it helps others with health care, or myself when I come to need it.......and some day I will.....we all will.

    • Wild rose
      October 04, 2011 - 11:55

      Heres a couple of facts for you: taxes shoud be illgal, take better care of yourself and you won't need the state to take care of you, and don't bash the USA, you should thank them for your freedom. And I'd take democracy over socialism any day commerad!

    • Single mom
      October 04, 2011 - 15:40

      Pay for single moms to sit around all day? Let me tell you something Mindy!! I happen too be a working single mom that does not sit around all day. You are very oblivious of the world around you. Alot of single moms want to go back to school or find a decent job but that is very hard to do when there is a major shortage of daycare in the province for all income levels. Some people put there children on waitlist the minute they are born to get a spot! Maybe you should think or actually turn on a tv first before writing comments on here and pay attention to what is actually going on in world. Maybe then you will not come across as being so clueless and ignorant.