He won’t come out and say it. And you probably won’t find it in his platform (if he has one).
But make no mistake, Andrew Scheer follows other Conservative leaders—like Doug Ford—and will cut billions from health care if he’s given the chance.
How do we know? It’s clear that to achieve his balanced budget promise “Scheer would have to dramatically cut spending.” And when it comes to health care, cutting is just what Conservatives do. Sure, they’ll probably call it “finding efficiencies” during the campaign. But after the votes are cast, it is always cuts and more cuts to the things you rely on—like health care.
On health care, the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour
Let’s take Andrew Scheer’s old boss and political mentor, Stephen Harper, as just one example.
In the 2011 election, Harper promised to continue increasing federal health care transfers at six percent per year. “We have been very consistent on this,” Harper said of the funding provinces were counting on to improve hospitals and hire nurses to care for an aging population.
But after the election, without consulting the provinces, Harper broke that promise. He cut $36-billion in planned health care funding by slashing the increases in half—cuts the Premiers warned “will mean less money available for nurses and doctors and health care."
Worse yet, he tried to hide this from Canadians by burying the details deep in the 2014 Budget documents.
While Harper was fine with breaking his health care promise to Canadians, he certainly kept his wealthy and well-connected friends happy—ultimately cutting corporate taxes by $60-billion over his years in power.
This is all particularly worrying when we consider that “Stephen Harper continues to play a big role behind the scenes” in the Scheer’s Conservative Party, according to Ottawa insiders.
Are Scheer and Doug Ford “working towards the same goals” on health care?
Just like Stephen Harper, Ontario Premier Doug Ford also promised one thing on health care during his campaign and then did quite another once elected.
Ford’s “Plan for the People” makes no mention of cutting health care. In fact, Ford promised to invest billions of new dollars in mental health care and reduce hospital wait times by investing in 30,000 new long-term care beds. That was on top of his now infamous pledge that no one in the public sector would lose their job.
After the Ontario election, it was another story entirely. Ford cut a billion dollars from Toronto Public Health, despite warnings that people could die as a result. He slashed resources to ambulance services and life-saving harm reduction programs. He’s even hatched a secret plan to privatize health services and move Ontario towards a US-style, two-tiered system.
Despite protesting that he is his “own man,” Andrew Scheer hasn’t been shy about supporting Doug Ford through all of these cuts. When asked by reporters, Scheer even admitted he and Ford are “working towards the same goals.”
Does this mean he’ll follow Ford on health care cuts, or just on breaking election promises?
Conservative “business of healthcare” fundraiser raises serious questions
The fact that Andrew Scheer’s inner-circle of Conservative MPs—including “the next Finance Minister” Pierre Poilievre—were caught hosting a cash-for-access fundraiser dubbed “The Business of Healthcare” is also raising serious alarm bells.
If Scheer were elected Prime Minister, there are concerns he would not only be taking his cues from Doug Ford, but also from big corporations looking to turn a profit from health care services.
After all, it is the job of the federal government to defend the principals of the Canada Health Act—including guaranteeing Canadians have free, universal access to health care.
So the question is: Can a weak leader with close ties to Doug Ford, Stephen Harper, and wealthy special interests really be trusted to protect Canada’s cherished universal public health care system?