TORONTO, April 26, 2012 /CNW/ - Greater clarity is needed in the controversial "grey zones" of the Canada Health Act to contribute to the quality of public debate and advance healthcare reform, according to a new report from the C.D. Howe Institute. In Grey Zones: Emerging Issues at the Boundaries of the Canada Health Act, author Gerard Boychuk examines four hot-button issues in the national debate over healthcare reform and recommends the federal government clarify the Act and remove a significant barrier to possible healthcare reforms.
Professor Boychuk, Chair of Political Science at the University of Waterloo, says the federal government's interpretation of the Canada Health Act (CHA) constitutes a significant barrier to healthcare reform. This is so not because the CHA is too restrictive or enforced too vigilantly, but because its lack of clarity creates "grey zones" that grant considerable discretion to the federal health minister to determine what provincial actions might be penalized under the Act. Ottawa's unwillingness to provide clarity with respect to these grey zones has, in turn, generated a political "negativity-bias" against reform, says Boychuk.
Boychuk examines four current issues relating to the Act: annual fees charged by health clinics; provincial healthcare deductibles; funding for health services purchased or insured out-of-country; and provincial funding of out-of-province health services facilitated by private medical services. In each case, Boychuk analyzes what the Act does and does not say about whether these practices are subject to federal penalties. He recommends that Ottawa stop avoiding public debates about the compliance of proposed reforms with the provisions of the CHA, and instead publicly state its position on these issues as they arise. "Such statements likely would go a long way toward clarifying the public debate and increase the political scope for healthcare reform," Boychuk concludes.
For further information:
Gerard Boychuk, Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo and Professor in the Balsillie School of International Relations; Colin Busby, Senior Policy Analyst, C.D. Howe Institute, 416-865-1904; email: [email protected]