Hon. Lorne Nystrom
What has happened is that we have had radical cutbacks by the Liberal Party to health care funding in Canada. Back in the 1960s, the NDP managed to force the Liberal Party to bring in national health care. I know that the member across is running in shame and hiding his head.
When the NDP managed to force the Liberal Party under Pearson to bring in health care, it was funded on a fifty-fifty basis by the federal government and the provinces, but there have been massive cutbacks by the federal government. Now the federal government funds only about 16% of health care and the provincial governments about 84% in terms of cash payments for health care in the country.
What we in the NDP are saying, and it is what Roy Romanow said as well, is that the federal contribution to health care should be brought up to 25% of the total costs.
What does that mean? In my province of Saskatchewan, which is one of the smaller provinces of the country, the health care budget this year was $2.69 billion. That is an increase of 6.3% in the last year. In other words, the Saskatchewan NDP government has been funding health care at a rate higher than the inflation rate, so it has been keeping up, but despite that, health care is underfunded in my province, just as it is in other provinces. If the federal government increased its share from 16% to 25%, it would be an additional $306 million per year for the province of Saskatchewan. That would be a significant contribution to the Saskatchewan health care system.
In British Columbia--the member for Vancouver East is here--if the federal government paid 25% of the costs instead of 16% there would be an additional $1.1 billion put into the health care system there. In Alberta, it would mean an additional $751 million. In Quebec, there would be an additional $2.15 billion in health care funding. In Newfoundland and Labrador, it would be an additional $175 million.
In New Brunswick--the member from New Brunswick is across the way--it would be an additional $214 million if the federal government paid 25% of the costs as opposed to about 16% of the costs. Imagine what that extra $214 million would mean for a province like New Brunswick. That is an awful lot of cash for the health care system in the province of New Brunswick. We should not forget that is at only 25%. In the 1960s when the health care system was brought in, the federal government paid 50% of the costs. Now it pays 16% of the costs and the NDP is recommending 25% of the costs. That would be an extra $214 million for the province of New Brunswick.
Prince Edward Island would get another $43 million if the federal government paid 25% of the cost of medicare for Canadian provinces. Manitoba would also receive a large increase and Quebec, as I mentioned, would receive another $2.15 billion.
In every province in this country there would be a large increase if the federal government were to pay some 25% of the costs of health care.
Therefore, one thing that has to happen is more federal health care money coming into the health care system. The other concern we have is the privatization of health care in this country. It has increased during the Liberal Party's term of office. The main reason for it is that they have starved and strangled the health care system. When we starve the health care system, we force the provinces to look elsewhere and we have seen the establishment of some private clinics, some private health care facilities, some for profit health care facilities.
I believe that health care in this country should be provided on a non-profit basis. It should be a public system, accessible to each and every single Canadian, regardless of the thickness of one's pocketbook or wallet.
That is not the way the government across the way is going. The health minister himself was open to more privatization in the health care system. I do believe that is absolutely and totally wrong. The Minister of Health, just a few days ago, made this statement:
If some provinces want to experiment with the private delivery option, my view is that as long as they respect the single-payer, public payer, we should be examining these efforts.
So the Liberals want to explore the private delivery of health care, and we do not have private delivery in health care unless we build in the profit motive. The profit motive has to be there to attract private investment and the minister is open to private investment. He is open to for profit health care. I believe that is the wrong way to go.
It is the way of the Conservative Party. The member from Penticton is leaving. I remember that his great leader Brian Mulroney talked at one time of greater health care. His friend in Ontario, Mike Harris, did exactly the same thing, and Grant Devine in my province of Saskatchewan. Now we have this other great conservative party, led by the Prime Minister from LaSalle—Émard--