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Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Public Health on the chopping block: Federal axe cuts deeply into advocacy groups.

The wires are abuzz these days with the impacts of federal funding decisions. 

There is a clear message – if you are a non-profit agency, don’t engage in advocacy that might compromise the image of  Harper, the conservative party, or the Federal government.  Do not be an agency where the information that you collect and publish might be interpreted as the government not doing its job correctly.  And, above all, don’t go measuring the negative impacts of policy decisions. 

Already gone is the Council that oversaw the Status of Women.  And to add injury to insult, there is a Status of Women department within government with its own Minister that allegedly continues the work of “advancing equality for women”.  Canada’s record in gender equity is dismal.  This was alluded to in DrPhealth March 1 2012 where Canada ranks 19th of 22 OECD nations.

Drastically reduced previously was the Canadian Institute for Children’s Health that saw federal funding sheered away back at the start of the last decade.  Canada’s record on child health and in particular on reducing child poverty matches its failure on gender equity.

The National Aboriginal Health Organization has had its funding eliminated.  DRPHealth public health non-financing

Last week the announcement of a $15M reduction in tobacco control was announced, a 1/3rd cut to the program.  DRPHealth April 17 As details of the implications are being leaked out, the implications are enormous.  Non-smokers rights association notice  Gone are tobacco enforcement dollars, the funds that ensure that businesses don’t sell tobacco to minors.  On the chopping block are both the Non-smokers Rights Associations and Physicians for a Smoke Free Canada, two agencies that have tirelessly fought for tobacco reduction efforts in Canada and have been occasionally noted to disagree with the Harper government. 

The Canadian Public Health Association has seen federal granting pared back consistently over the past decade or so to a point where subsistence is a struggle, and the ability to speak openly about federal policy is limited although a value that continues to be espoused.   http://www.cpha.ca/en/about/digest/xxxvi-1/1.aspx  

The agency that collects the data that many groups depend upon for their quality of health improvement efforts is already planning for major reductions.  Expected to be gone are the participation and activity limitation survey (on people with disabilities), an employee survey, the national population health survey and two pilot environment surveys.  Protected would be  labour force survey redesign, its consumer price index update, and a survey on the financial security of Canadian households.  Hmmmm - interesting pattern.   Globe and Mail on Stats Can reductions 

Should we be surprised that male, adult, non-ethic businessmen are the relative winners of the current government regime?  Probably not, but if you are in the majority of Canadians who don’t belong to this minority population, fasten your seatbelts as it will be a very bumpy ride over the next four years.  

Addendum April 24:  A posting from the leader of the Green Party of Canada was sent to us that provides additional information and expressions of concern on this issues http://elizabethmaymp.ca/news/blogs/2012/04/19/how-orwellian-traps-are-laid/  

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