--> Getting It Right: NDP Raises Health Care Boogie Man

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

NDP Raises Health Care Boogie Man

Count on the socialists – when the going gets tough, out come the scare tactics. It is so classic that it has become a BC political cliché.

This time it is the health care boogie man. The NDP argument goes something like this: “if you re-elect the Liberals you are going to get a horrible health care system, but under the NDP, Carole James will wave a sparkly wand and our health care woes will be magically solved.”

Yeah. Sounds great. Too bad it is completely unbelievable.

Health care is a big issue. No political party worth its salt can run a campaign without making sure it has an airtight health care platform. Canadians really care about their system, they know it could work better but are confused at what approach would secure public health care for the long term.

This makes it a perfect campaign issue, especially if you are a lost party thrashing about for some traction from an electorate that has written you off as outdated and irrelevant.

That being said, it is completely beyond my understanding why the NDP think they have enough credibility to tackle health care.

I know that some people like Carole James. But let’s remember that it is her team of candidates that was in government when our health care system went from marginal to critical.

By the time the NDP left office in 2001, we faced shortages of doctors and nurses. In fact, over 1600 nursing positions were eliminated in the early 1990s, a move that set us up for near crisis. Our equipment budgets were massively under-funded. The number of long term care beds fell by 18% in the five year period between 1994 and 1999.

This is not a record to be proud of. And Mike Farnsworth, a former NDP Health Minister, and current wannabe MLA, doesn’t get it.

He doesn’t understand that the system has recovered since the NDP played politics with it during the dark days of the 90s.

Perhaps he missed the news about the $3.8 billion increase in health care spending, an 100% increase in doctor training spaces, and 2,500 new nurse positions.

Maybe he doesn’t like the fact that this government has made health regions accountable for the tax dollars they receive– something that Joy MacPhail herself bemoaned during the last NDP regime.

Maybe he just doesn’t like that we have one of the lowest wait times in Canada for access to tests and specialists.

It is really too bad for the NDP that they have chosen health care to frighten the voters. For those that take the time to get past the rhetoric, the NDP record should be scary enough.


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