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Want to see how Canada’s political parties measure up on key health care issues? We’ve compiled this guide to help you vote with confidence in 2019.

  1. Pharmacare
  2. Seniors' care
  3. Workplace violence & staffing
  4. Federal health funding
  5. Child care

Pharmacare

Where Canada’s nurses stand

93% of people in Canada feel that it’s important for everyone to have equal access to prescription drugs; 88% believe that this is the federal government’s responsibility. The CFNU supports the recommendations in the final report of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, which provides a pragmatic roadmap for moving forward on a national universal single-payer pharmacare program.

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Liberal Party of Canada

Highlights: a) establish the national Canadian Drug Agency to negotiate drug purchases (2019 Budget committed $35 million to establish a Canadian Drug Agency Transition Office); b) implement a national drug formulary; c) implement a rare disease drug strategy; d) negotiate with the provinces and territories on the design and implementation of universal pharmacare, guided by the Advisory Council’s recommendations.

Analysis: $6 billion over four years is provided for all public healthcare commitments – 750 million in 2020; 1.75 billion in 2021-2022 for mental health, primary care, and home and palliative care, as well as for “the critical next steps” towards a national universal pharmacare program. The funding commitment for pharmacare falls far short of the Advisory Council’s recommendation of incremental annual increases beginning in 2022 with a $3.5 billion federal investment. Reference to the Advisory Council’s recommendations is positive, but we would expect to see all the recommendations followed.

Green Party of Canada

Highlights: a) expand the Canada Health Act to include prescription drugs dispensed outside of a hospital to create publicly funded, single-payer pharmacare; b) create a bulk drug purchasing agency; c) reduce drug patent protection periods; d) support the recommendations of the Advisory Council for a comprehensive national formulary.

Analysis: The Green Party calls for funding of $26.7 billion in 2020-2021, increasing to $31.37 billion by 2024-2025, with provincial and territorial contributions beginning then. The Green Party has provided tiered funding in order to bring in pharmacare quickly, recognizing that there is an immediate need for fundamental change.

New Democratic Party of Canada

Highlights: a) legislation modelled on the Canada Health Act would result in a pharmacare transfer to the provinces and territories contingent on the jurisdictions offering universal coverage and adhering to a national formulary; b) an independent public agency would set the evidence-based formulary and negotiate with drug companies; c) necessary medicines would then be covered in the same way that we have access to medical and hospital care – free at the point of care, with no co-payments,deductibles or premiums, financed by a public insurance system that covers everyone.

Analysis: The NDP has promised to provide an annual federal investment of $10 billion with a late 2020 start date (including cost-sharing with the provinces and territories). Putting pharmacare in place as a first priority means a rapid end to access issues and a decline in the price Canada pays for necessary medications.

Conservative Party of Canada

No commitments have been made on the issue of pharmacare by the Conservative Party of Canada. Once the party releases its position, we will update our scorecard accordingly.

Seniors' care

Where Canada’s nurses stand

7 in 10 Canadians believe the health system requires new funding from the federal government to help provinces with the rising costs of health care for seniors; 91% of Canadians agree all older Canadians should be guaranteed the same standard of care, regardless of where they live, or how much money they have. CFNU supports targeted federal funding to provinces and territories based on population needs for seniors’ care and legislated minimum seniors’ care standards.

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Liberal Party of Canada

Highlights: a) have bilateral agreements in place for $6 billion over ten years to provinces and territories (over and above the Canada Health Transfer), targeted at home and community care; b) $50 million for a dementia strategy over five years, and $31.6 million to support a national dementia research consortium in the 2019 Budget; c) election platform targets home and palliative care as one element in $6 billion in additional funds to improve public health care.

Analysis: The Liberal government’s funding commitment towards seniors’ home and community care through its bilateral agreements is generous; the party deserves credit for its inroads on a dementia strategy, and for having committed more money for home and palliative care in its public health care spending envelope. However, targeted federal funding for seniors based on population needs would address long-term care access and affordability issues; to ensure quality care, minimum standards of care for seniors need to be mandated.

Green Party of Canada

Highlights: a) develop and fund a national dementia strategy; b) support innovative home-sharing plans and other measures to allow people to stay in their own homes for as long as possible; c) create more long-term care beds in neighbourhood facilities.

Analysis: While the Green Party platform does address seniors’ care (through commitments to creating more long-term care bedsand a national dementia strategy), there is no focus on increasingstaff for facilities to improve care for all seniors, including those with dementia. Targeted federal funding for seniors based on population needs would help to address long-term care access and affordability issues; to ensure quality care, minimum standards of care for seniors need to be mandated.

New Democratic Party of Canada

Highlights: a) propose a national seniors’ strategy to be negotiated with the provinces, territories and Indigenous governments, which would include a funded national dementia strategy and an elder abuse prevention plan; b) collaborate to develop national care standards for home care, with a core basket of services covered through public insurance, and minimum national care standards for long-term care residents to be included in the Canada Health Act; c) assist the more than 8 million caregivers in Canada by making the Caregiver Tax Credit refundable.

Analysis: The NDP’s national seniors’ strategy is comprehensive, addressing both home and long-term care. The NDP deserves credit for its commitment to creating national care standards for seniors, so that seniors receive equal access to quality care regardless of where they live. We would have liked to have seen targeted federal funding for seniors based on population needs, as well.

Conservative Party of Canada

No commitments have been made on the issue of seniors’ care by the Conservative Party of Canada. Once the party releases its position, we will update our scorecard accordingly.

Workplace violence & staffing

Where Canada’s nurses stand

A CFNU poll found that 61% of nurses reported having a serious problem with violence in the workplace during a 12-month period. Every day in Canada, health care workers are getting hit, punched, spat on and sworn at. This year, a parliamentary committee which studied the issue of violence faced by health care workers made several important recommendations, including that the federal government work with the provinces and territories to promote the adoption of best practices, increase security and address staff shortfalls. The CFNU supports the parliamentary report’s recommendations.

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Liberal Party of Canada

Highlights: a) recognize how substance use – particularly methamphetamine – contributes to a rise in incidents of violence at hospitals and clinics; b) commit to a plan for this, that would invest $150 million in treatment, participate in municipal and provincial meth task forces, improve data and surveillance, address illegal production and trafficking, and tackle the underlying causes of meth use.

Analysis: The Liberal Party is correct in recognizing the role that substance abuse plays in increasing incidents of violence against health care workers, but treating methamphetamine abuse is not a comprehensive plan for addressing this crisis. The parliamentary report Violence Facing Health Care Workers in Canada provides a roadmap for addressing the crisis from a federal perspective in all health care workplaces.

Green Party of Canada

Highlights: a) follow the guidance of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health in their June 2019 report Violence Facing Health Care Workers in Canada; b) mandate further evidence on the issue from the Canadian Institute of Health Information in order to develop effective policies; c) address violence in a criminal context; d) raise public awareness; e) more broadly work to meet safe health care staffing needs across the country.

Analysis: The Green Party is on the right track through embracing the recommendations from the parliamentary report on violence against health care workers. Their fleshed-out commitments to this issue are laudable, and are also echoed by the recommendations contained in the parliamentary report.

New Democratic Party of Canada

Highlights: a) support the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Health in their June 2019 report Violence Facing Health Care Workers in Canada; b) reintroduce legislation calling for an amendment to the Criminal Code, that would require a court to consider the fact that the victim of an assault is a health care sector worker to be an aggravating circumstance for the purposes of sentencing; c) provide federal resources to protect health care workers, particularly in hospitals and long-term care homes; d) develop a national health human resources plan to address staff shortages and gaps in health care.

Analysis: The NDP’s commitment to stemming violence against health care workers is evident through their commitments to address short staffing with a national health human resources plan, and to reintroduce legislation that will act as a deterrent to violence against health care workers. The NDP also supports the recommendations arising from the parliamentary report Violence Facing Health Care Workers in Canada.

Conservative Party of Canada

No commitments have been made on the issue of workplace violence/staffing by the Conservative Party of Canada. Once the party releases its position, we will update our scorecard accordingly.

Federal health funding

Where Canada’s nurses stand

Canada’s nurses support the widely held view that in order to match population growth, aging, inflation, income growth and enrichment, federal health funding through the Canada Health Transfer to the provinces and territories needs to increase by no less than 5.2% year over year. This funding is essential toward maintaining the current level of health care we receive across Canada. Furthermore, this money must be spent entirely on public health care, as outlined in the Canada Health Act. Additional targeted funding is needed beyond the Canada Health Transfer forpriority areas in the health care system. (NB: Pharmacare is excluded from CFNU’s analysis on this issue.)

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Liberal Party of Canada

Highlights: a) signed bilateral health agreements with the provinces and territories in 2017, which last ten years; b) instituted Canada Health Transfer increases matching nominal GDP growth each year (estimated 3.5%-4%), with a minimum of 3%; c) committed $11 billion over ten years through the bilateral agreements to improve access to home and community care, and mental health and addiction services; d) an additional $6 billion over the next four years towards primary care, national standards for access to mental health services, and improved access to home care and palliative care (as well as money toward pharmacare, which is not included in CFNU’s analysis of this issue).

Analysis: The Liberal government failed to institute a Canada Health Transfer increase of at least 5.2% a year. A 5.2% escalator is widely considered the minimum amount needed to maintain current health care services and is even lower than the 6% escalator under the previous health accord. However, the $11 billion of targeted funding for mental health and home care isa helpful addition, which reduces the funding shortfall through the escalator difference. Furthermore, additional funding toward primary care, mental health, and home and palliative care are laudable, but will amount to very little since they are part of the same funding envelope as pharmacare.

Green Party of Canada

Highlights: a) restore the federal-provincial-territorial Health Accord, basing health transfers on demographics and real health care needs in each jurisdiction; b) ensure that funding is increased to match the 5.2% escalator; c) prioritize expansion of mental health and rehabilitation services, a reduction in wait times, access to safe abortion services and access to gender-affirming health services in newly negotiated Canada Health Accord; provide dental care to low-income Canadians.

Analysis: The Green Party’s commitments to federal health care funding is strong. It is crucial that, at the very least, federal funding increases by 5.2% year over year, which the Green Party commits to. The Green Party’s commitment to target wait times and expand services in a newly negotiated health accord, and the party’s funds towards dental care for low-income Canadians, are also welcome.

New Democratic Party of Canada

Highlights: a) no commitment made regarding the Canada Health Transfer; b) invest in dental care to alleviate pressure on provincial budgets so that provincial and territorial partners could re-invest funding in other priority areas; c) these priority areas are eye care, mental health, tackling wait times, and resolving challenges with accessing doctors, nurses and other health care professionals. 

Analysis: It is important for the overall health of everyone living in Canada that dental care is accessible, which would be a sizeable expense. The Canada Health Transfer must still be front of mind, however, to ensure that – at a minimum – current levels of health care are maintained at the provincial and territorial levels. The NDP has not made any commitments to increasing the Canada Health Transfer, nor has there been any targeted funding commitments on other key health portfolios (beyond pharmacare).

Conservative Party of Canada

Highlights: a) commit to maintaining and increasing the current Canada Health Transfer – with an increase of at least 3% each year; b) buy $1.5 billion worth of new medical imaging equipment for health care facilities across the country.

Analysis: The current Canada Health Transfer funding amount is insufficient. Without additional targeted funding to account for thesignificant shortfalls from the current Canada Health Transfer, the Conservative Party’s commitment is inadequate. While many facilities do indeed need new machines for MRIs and CT scans, it is unclear if the Conservative Party plans on providing these machines to private, for-profit clinics, which violate the Canada Health Act.

Child care

Where Canada’s nurses stand

Canada’s nurses agree with leading child care experts: all families should have equal access to affordable, inclusive and high-quality child care, regardless of where they live. We expect the federal government to provide funding to bring Canada in-line with the international benchmark of 1% of GDP spent on child care – up from the current spending of roughly 0.3% – and to work with the provinces and territories to develop a national child care system.

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Liberal Party of Canada

Highlights: a) nearly double federal support for child care to the provinces and territories, investing $535 million more each year; b) create up to 250,000 more before- and after-school spaces for kids under the age of ten; c) lower parents’ fees by 10% across the country; d) dedicate a target of 10% of the new spaces to provide more child care options for parents who work overtime, late shifts or multiple jobs.

Analysis: The Liberal Party’s commitments to child care are comprehensive and generous, but further federal funding is needed in order to bring us closer to the international benchmark of 1% of GDP in the next four years. As so many nurses work outside of the 9-to-5 schedule, the Liberal Party’s commitment toward new spaces designed to accommodate those parents is significant.

Green Party of Canada

Highlights: a) fund child care to the tune of $10 billion over the next four years; b) collaborate with various levels of government and stakeholders to create a policy road map based on the principles of universality, affordability, quality, inclusivity and equity; c) eliminate GST on all construction costs related to child care spaces.

Analysis: The Green Party’s commitments to child care are commendable and will move Canada toward the international benchmark of 1% of GDP. The Green Party’s approach regarding location of child care – considering the diversity of family needs, transportation distances and convenience – warrants credit, as well.

New Democratic Party of Canada

Highlights: a) establish a universal child care and early learning system by 2030, beginning with a $10-billion investment over four years; b) create more than 500,000 new licensed child care spaces; c) cap prices at $10 a day, based on models in British Columbia and Quebec.

Analysis: The NDP’s commitments to child care are very generous, with federal funding to bring us toward the international benchmark of 1% of GDP. Using the child care systems of Quebec and British Columbia as models for the other provinces and territories to adopt forms the basis of a truly universal, affordable, inclusive and high-quality national system.

Conservative Party of Canada

No commitments have been made on the issue of national child care by the Conservative Party of Canada. Once the party releases its position, we will update our scorecard accordingly.

Full Report