Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The National Concerns of Busting Unions & Health Care

Marking a complete reversal by the Conservatives in intergovernmental relations, on Friday a new health agreement between the federal government and the provinces will be announced.

Not many details are known but as the Conservatives have claimed that one union striking is a matter of  national concern it was just a matter of time until health care, the nation's largest issue was finally acted on federally by this government.

This will be a dramatic change from the Conservatives' position on health care made just months earlier when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told the provinces that there would be no new health accord; that national standards, programs for innovation in care, cost-cutting measures, and medical research were unimportant to the federal government and would be left to individual provinces, if they were so inclined.

Though there has been no formal announcement of pending discussions on a new national health accord, Conservatives have called for the government to act out of "national concern".

Stephen Harper is expected this Friday to hold a press conference announcing that his government will work with the provinces to ensure the new health accord will improve the health care system and the well being of people all across Canada.

There has been speculation of course that the Prime Minister has no intention to reverse his decision for the federal government to stay out of health care, however recent evidence shows those rumours are clearly false.

As this Conservative government has justified its intervention in a strike by a small number of workers at one airline, claiming it had to act out of a national concern, it would be ridiculous for anyone to think a strike justifies federal action more than problems in our national health care system.

The Prime Minister on March 9 said, in reference to his government's involvement in the comparatively minor issue that is the Air Canada strike, "My concern is not management or labor; my concern is the broader Canadian public and I think the public overwhelmingly expects the government to act."

It is clear if a few thousand people going on strike necessitates federal action, it is just a matter of days, if not hours for the Conservative government to begin working with the provinces to establish national health care standards.

Because the bill for back-to-work legislation for less than 12,000 Air Canada workers is expected to pass the Senate this Thursday, it is almost certain that on the next day Stephen Harper will address the obviously larger and inherently more national of a concern that health care is for all 34 million Canadians.

Of course there is a chance no new health care accord will be proposed, but then that would mean the federal government sees intervening to bust unions as more important than participating in health care. Of course that couldn't be true as that then would be the real national concern.

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