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  • Ontario's middle and working class families are losing ground August 15, 2017
    Ontario is becoming more polarized as middle and working class families see their share of the income pie shrinking while upper middle and rich families take home even more. New research from CCPA-Ontario Senior Economist Sheila Block reveals a staggering divide between two labour markets in the province: the top half of families continue to pile […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Join us in October for the CCPA-BC fundraising gala, featuring Senator Murray Sinclair August 14, 2017
    We are incredibly honoured to announce that Senator Murray Sinclair will address our 2017 Annual Gala as keynote speaker, on Thursday, October 19 in Vancouver. Tickets are now on sale. Will you join us? Senator Sinclair has served as chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), was the first Indigenous judge appointed in Manitoba, […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • How to make NAFTA sustainable, equitable July 19, 2017
    Global Affairs Canada is consulting Canadians on their priorities for, and concerns about, the planned renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In CCPA’s submission to this process, Scott Sinclair, Stuart Trew and Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood point out how NAFTA has failed to live up to its promise with respect to job and productivity […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • What’s next for BC? July 4, 2017
    Five weeks ago the CCPA-BC began a letter to our supporters with this statement: “What an interesting and exciting moment in BC politics! For a bunch of policy nerds like us at the CCPA, it doesn’t get much better than this.” At the time, we were writing about the just-announced agreement between the BC NDP […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Could skyrocketing private sector debt spell economic crisis? June 21, 2017
    Our latest report finds that Canada is racking up private sector debt faster than any other advanced economy in the world, putting the country at risk of serious economic consequences. The report, Addicted to Debt, reveals that Canada has added $1 trillion in private sector debt over the past five years, with the corporate sector […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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The Progressive Economics Forum

TILMA and Medicare

An editorial in today’s Calgary Herald begins with the usual praise for TILMA, but ends by suggesting a new interprovincial deal on healthcare:

Yet, for Ottawa to attempt to remedy matters by intruding itself into relations between the provinces would not only provoke reflexive opposition but, even if carried through by force majeure, be unlikely to work.

Certainly, the Canada Health Act has not led to congruency among provincial health programs: Treatments approved in some provinces are not available in others, for instance, a reality that mocks the portability requirement of the act.

. . .

However, when two provinces agree to harmonize their standards while upholding their jurisdiction, the constitutional arguments are satisfied: The rest of the country should applaud their initiative and, it is to be hoped, seek to emulate their example.

. . .

First commerce, then health?

It is always advisable to walk, before attempting to run.

However, by attempting to show how mutual advantage can arise from friendly agreement, Canada’s two western provinces may turn out to be on the leading edge of a more efficient federalism.

The two governments deserve every encouragement in negotiating an agreement.

What does the Herald have in mind? The Canadian Press recently reported:

Alberta is taking a “leadership role” that he expects other provinces will follow, says the premier.

The strategy includes buying drugs with neighbouring provinces “on a much larger scale” to reduce costs, and using new labour mobility agreements to recruit doctors and nurses from other provinces.

Provincial governments co-operating to maximize their market power in buying pharmaceuticals is an excellent idea. However, progressives were proposing this approach long before corporate Canada’s latest round of hyperventilation about supposed “internal trade barriers”.

More generally, I suspect that many Canadians would not welcome the healthcare policies that Alberta’s Conservatives and BC’s Liberals would likely champion. Indeed, “the Canada Health Act has not led to congruency among provincial health programs” largely because these two provincial governments have aggressively deviated from this Act.

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