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Threats to health care worst in decades: Council of Canadians

PM determined to kill 'public health care, says Maude Barlow

As Canadian premiers met in Victoria to talk about the future of health care this week, residents on the left of the political spectrum also gathered at a forum of their own.

Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians, said the set of threats to health care today haven't existed in decades.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a man determined to kill public health care, she told a full house at the Da Vinci Centre Monday night.

His strategy to let provinces spend health-care dollars as they see fit is "brilliant," she said. "He doesn't have to do the deed himself; he can just turn it over to the provinces to do his dirty work."

Some will enter into a private system immediately and others will take more time, she said. "What we're going to end up with is a patchwork of services."

Diana Gibson, of the Parkland Institute, also spoke.

She leveled her criticism against Harper's plan to tie health-care funding to the country's gross domestic product.

"If we tie health-care spending to economic growth, it's going to look awful," she said, pointing to the volatility of the boom-bust cycle. "It's not a practical way to plan long-term spending for critical social programs."

The two-day Council of the Federation of premiers wrapped up Tuesday. B.C. Premier Christy Clark called the federal government's refusal to negotiate "unprecedented and unacceptable."