Ottawa’s deficit is soon to be turned into a surplus, which could be used for a number of important purposes. For instance, some such purpose is to help bring tax relief or to help make their unaffordable health care more affordable. However, Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has decided that instead of spending the surplus money on health care, this extra money will be used for military purposes. Even though Canadians would prefer that this additional money be funded towards their health care. This plan that Harper has laid out was not announced until he secured his majority to be elected as Prime Minister again. The plan will cut in half Canada’s rate of growth of federal health transfers to the provinces at an estimated amount of thirty-six billion dollars in over ten years. Thus, it will make Canadians pay more for their health care, when health care could instead be made affordable for all people regardless of their income status. This is true notwithstanding that the Canadian health care system is the second most expensive in the world. Considering all this, chances are that not every Canadian knows or even heard about Prime Minister Harper’s plan due to other irrelevant subjects clogging the media pipeline such as the new iPhone or another future royal baby.
Linda McQuaig, “Harper’s planned military splurge comes at the expense of health care,” Rabble.ca, September 11, 2014
Avik Roy, “If Universal Health Care Is The Goal, Don’t Copy Canada,” Forbes, June 13, 2014
Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, Government of Canada
Student Researcher: Areli Enriquez , Indian River State College
Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D., Indian River State College
Every person has the right to get medical attention whenever and wherever it is offered. In Canada the situation involving health care is a problematic subject. According to Forbes, Canada has the second most expensive health care system in the world, and the worst part is that the wait times just to see a doctor is almost up to four and a half months. In the article, “Harper’s planned military splurge comes at the expense of health care, journalist,” Linda McQuaig states that eight in ten Canadians would not agree with changes that will decrease health care funding over time. Not many Canadians know that Ottawa’s deficit is soon to turn into a surplus, which means that that surplus could be used for funding their health care and make it widely affordable. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has other plans for Ottawa’s soon to be surplus, though. Harper has planned that the surplus will be used to fund the military. One of Harper’s advocates stated that they should announce plans to increase defense spending at the same time that much of the media coverage was about the new iPhone coming out and news about more future royal heirs. This was the perfect time inasmuch as the Canadian government believed that citizens would be preoccupied with the other news.
The ethical problem this story raises is the violation of public trust by the Canadian government. The Canadian government is willing to splurge on their military knowing that health care is the citizens’ number one priority. This is an ethical problem because the people of Canada are putting their trust in the government to make the right choices for them so they can live a good life. Yet Prime Minister Harper is choosing to ignore his people’s wishes and do what he wants. Since Harper has decided this, health care in Canada will cut in half the rate of growth of federal health transfers to the provinces. The net effect of this is that the Canadians are going to have to pay more for their health care. Not only is health care expensive in Canada, their prescription drugs are unaffordable too. Canadians already have to pay thirty percent more for prescription drugs than other countries, according to the article. Not only that, but since there will be cuts, it’s estimated that about thirty-six billion dollars will be lost in over ten years. That is thirty-six billion dollars that the Canadian government is possibly counting on to spend on their military. It is fair to say that regardless of where you live, serviceable and affordable health care should be a basic human right.
How can the public continue to trust their government when they tend to announce important news when at the same time the media is broadcasting new cell phones or stories about the Royal family? Headlines such as the government’s spending Ottawa’s soon to be surplus for defense is not something to be taken lightly, or to be kept out of the mainstream media. The people have a right to know such important news and not have it overshadowed by other unrelated headlines. The government should always find ways to make such news widely known to the public. Moreover, the corporate media has an obligation to cover the story in detail instead of cooperating with the government.
Perhaps some individuals may agree with Harper’s plan but others may think differently. For example, Harper’s advocates would claim that citizens do not know what’s best for their country, so they may perceive them as just objects that get in the way of making decisions. On the other hand, it is clear what the people want, and this is to have affordable health care. According to Canada’s Values and Ethics Codes for the Public Sector, the government must maintain “the respect of their people and the ideas they generate.” Unfortunately for the Canadians, it seems that this ethical code is being overlooked and not being respected by their government, especially by the Prime Minister, who is supposed to be guided by the citizens’ priorities and ideas.