Conservative politicians and pundits are questioning the feasibility of adding pharmaceutical coverage to Canada’s public health care system. “How can our governments possibly afford such a huge additional expense?” they ask.
They are asking the wrong question. Here are some of the proper questions to ask:
How have the other economically advanced countries in Europe, as well as Australia and New Zealand, been able to afford comprehensive public health care, including dental, vision, hearing, and other health needs, as well as pharmacare?
How can our federal and provincial governments jointly afford to spend $29 billion a year in subsidies to large corporations, including $3.3 billion annually to the big oil and gas companies?
How can the federal government afford the mega-billions in bailouts it periodically lavishes on SNC Lavalin and Bombardier, and in the past on the big automobile manufacturers?
How can the federal government afford to spend over $4 billion to purchase an oil pipeline?
Why have our governments, while increasing business subsidies, proportionately reduced their spending on social services? Why does Canada now rank a dismal 24th on the OECD’s list of its member countries’ social spending at just 17% of GDP, compared to rates ranging from 23% to more than 40% by other countries?
The answers to these crucial unasked questions would expose the right-wingers’ cavils about pharmacare’s affordability as completely bogus. So would the fact that Canada’s per capita GDP – the country’s gross domestic output – has more than doubled the constant dollar amount it was fifty years ago. There’s more money than ever before available, but now it’s being far more inequitably distributed.
To sum up, the alleged shortage of public funding for pharmacare (and other necessary health services) has been callously contrived by continually enhancing the wealth of the rich and powerful at the expense of everyone else.