NDP Health Critic’s Statement on Budget 2021

Don Davies, NDP Health critic, issued the following statement: 

“Canadians are experiencing the most significant health crisis of our lives. We have come to depend on and value public health care delivery as never before. COVID-19 has also shone a harsh light on the serious and long-standing gaps in our system. 

Budget 2021 was an opportunity to build, repair and strengthen healthcare in Canada. Canada’s New Democrats were looking for bold steps and meaningful resources in a number of key areas that need and deserve attention. 

While Budget 2021 does provide some helpful measures to improve healthcare delivery in Canada, there are several important omissions. 

We welcome Budget 2021’s proposed investment of $3 billion over 5 years for long-term care. While we believe that more is needed, national standards ought to be accelerated and steps taken to take profit out of care, this will go some way in improving services so urgently required in seniors’ homes across Canada. 

We also applaud the allocation of $100 million over two years to support the mental health of those most affected by COVID-19. We know that this area of healthcare has been too long ignored, exacerbated by the current pandemic and this infusion of resources will be put to important use. 

We are also pleased to see $116 million allocated over two years to support a range of innovative approaches to harm reduction, treatment, and prevention at the community level. All parties agree that this is a gaping hole in our healthcare system that must be urgently addressed. At the same time, the Budget’s failure to treat addiction as a health issue by decriminalizing drug possession and establishing a regulated safe supply is a profound omission that will continue to unnecessarily cost Canadians’ lives in every corner of our country. 

Unfortunately, Budget 2021 includes no new funding or measures to implement universal, public pharmacare. It is clear the Trudeau government has abandoned any intention of meeting the Hoskins Advisory Council’s call for the establishment of a national pharmacare program by the end of 2021. With millions of Canadians without pharmaceutical coverage and more losing their employment-based benefits every week because of COVID-19, this is an unconscionable and perplexing failure. 

The COVID-19 vaccine shortage has exposed the dangerous lack of domestic vaccine and medication manufacturing in Canada. This has left Canadians unnecessarily vulnerable to multinational corporations and foreign governments. We are disappointed the Liberals refused the NDP’s common-sense suggestion to re-establish a public drug manufacturer in Canada to ensure Canadian self-sufficiency in life-saving pharmaceutical products. 

Provincial and territorial premiers have been clear that they need stable, predictable, and long-term funding to resolve the backlog of delayed surgeries and other procedures created by the COVID-19 pandemic and to address looming shortages in healthcare professions. They have called on the federal government to increase its share of health care spending to 35 percent from the current 22 percent through a long-term increase to the Canada Health Transfer. Budget 2021 fails to address the structural funding crisis in Canada’s public health care system.  

New Democrats believe now is the time to invest in Canada’s health infrastructure and expand the public delivery of health care across Canada. We will continue to advocate for positive, constructive, fair and effective policies toward these goals.”