How a broken Conservative campaign promise led to a $36 billion cut to health care.

It starved the system and we’re paying for it today — just when we need it most. 

January 30, 2021

Erin O’Toole and the Conservatives have a history of saying one thing and doing another. When it comes to public health care, their broken campaign promise left a $36 billion gap in funding — and hurt the services families need now more than ever. 

The Protecting Canada Project is about using facts to fight back against Conservatives' chronic underfunding of our health care system and warn about the risk of future cuts under Erin O’Toole. Last time in government, O’Toole and the Conservatives pulled a fast one on the provinces – and on Canadians — sneaking their cuts through under a new funding model. So let’s shine a light on it, shall we? 

First — here’s how health care funding works: 

The provinces and the federal government share the cost of health care. In recent decades, the details are agreed to in health care accords set between the federal and provincial/territorial governments, every ten years. The 2004 - 2014 health accords set a 6% annual escalator to address rising health care costs, the needs of an aging population, and previous federal cuts to health transfers. Stephen Harper and Erin O’Toole were in government when the accords came up for renewal in 2014. 

Here’s what they promised: 

During the election campaign, Stephen Harper said: 

“We are planning on a six-per-cent ongoing increase for health transfers.

We have been very consistent on this.”

Here’s what they actually did: 

After getting elected to a majority government, instead of negotiating a new agreement the Conservatives shocked the provinces – and Canadians – by unilaterally imposing a new 10-year health formula that did not honour the 6% annual escalator like they said they would. 

The result was that health transfers would fall $36 billion short of what Conservatives had promised. 

Experts warned these cuts would mean our health care system wouldn’t meet the needs of an aging population. And today, during the COVID crisis, we’ve seen the devastating impact of under-funded health care on Canadians – and especially on seniors. 

Erin O’Toole voted for this massive cut to health care funding — and put a bull-headed austerity agenda ahead of the health and safety of Canadians. We can’t let that happen again, just when we need our public health care the most.