Ex-NDP MLA David Schreck reveals Christy Clark's willingness to give up federal health funding
I'm a frequent listener to Sean Leslie's weekend talk-radio show on CKNW. I especially enjoy the regular appearances by former NDP MLA David Schreck on the program.
Unlike some other political commentators on radio—such as Moe Sihota and Suzanne Anton—I never get the feeling that Schreck's primary purpose on the air is to spread propaganda on behalf of the party he supports.
Today, Schreck surprised me again with something I hadn't heard before.
It concerned the federal government's announcement earlier this year that it would reduce the size of annual increases in transfer payments for health care to the provinces.
This would result in $250 million less per year flowing into the provincial treasury via the Canada Health Transfer.
According to Schreck, Premier Christy Clark said at the time that this was acceptable to her provided that Ottawa adjusted payments according to the age of the population. (It's worth noting that Clark also hasn't criticized the prime minister's crime legislation, which will impose higher costs on provincial taxpayers to build more prisons.)
Clark called for age-adjusted health transfers because B.C. has more seniors per capita than other provinces. The implication was that if this change were made, B.C. would be far better off financially.
Schreck, a health economist, decided to test this by filing access requests. But in its response, the government obliterated how much an age-adjusted approach would bring into the province.
On CKNW today, Schreck explained that he was still able to figure it out because the government left the formula on the document. He was bright enough to do the math.
In the end, Schreck concluded that the B.C. government would recover an additional $96 million per year in federal funding with an age-adjusted formula under the Harper government's plan.
In other words, Schreck noted, the premier of the province has said that she supports a federal plan that would have reduced health-care transfers to our province by $154 million per year.
"The next time Clark represents B.C. in high stakes negotiations, she needs to be accompanied by staff who are thoroughly briefed on the file," Schreck wrote on his blog.
For more of Schreck's original take on B.C. politics, check out his strategic thoughts website.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.