Health care: it’s all about the economy

Polls consistently show that health care is one of the top two or three concerns of Canadians. Yet it has barely registered in this campaign.

Stephen Harper announced a couple more health initiatives in Vancouver today: $10 million over two years to support a lung disease strategy that combines health and environmental policy; and $15 million for a four-year study of frightening neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Yesterday, he pledged money to lure back Canadian docs practicing abroad, recruit and train more nurses, and pay for 50 new residency slots in teaching hospitals.

Unspectacular but solid stuff, slated for the closing days of the campaign back before anybody knew economic turmoil would dominate the race. Harper tacitly acknowledged he’s got no hope of cutting through the cacophony surrounding the financial-market crisis with anything as mundane as combating horrible illnesses. Closing his remarks on health policy, he said: “Of course, to carry it out and to continue making progress, we need to protect our economy.”

In other words, “And now, back to the only story anybody cares to talk about.”

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