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A Smaller Government for a Better Country

Appeared in the National Post, 14 April 2005
Authors:
Release Date: April 14, 2005
Canadians deserve visionary public policies that provide faster access to better health care, more and better jobs, and higher take home pay.
We believe the surest way to achieve such goals is to dramatically expand freedom of choice and personal responsibility in Canada, and to strike a new balance between the roles and responsibilities of governments and the private sector.

Over the past year, under the auspices of the Fraser Institute, we have consulted with former political colleagues and researchers on the types of policies required to achieve these objectives. We have also examined public opinion data on Canadian attitudes toward freedom and responsibility and various policy options.

The initial results of our work are contained in a publication released this week in co-operation with the Montreal Economic Institute and entitled A Canada Strong and Free. It will be followed by additional publications outlining visionary policies designed to provide Canadians with the highest quality of life and standard of living in the world, to make Canada the best governed democratic federation on the planet and to make our country a model of international citizenship and leadership. But for now, let’s focus on ways to improve health care, job prospects and personal income.

CRITICAL SURGERY TO IMPROVE AND SUSTAIN HEALTH CARE

Canadians are weary and impatient with the long waiting lines for health care. They are becoming aware that in terms of doctors per capita, access to MRIs and other advanced technology, and health care outcomes -- Canada’s health care system underperforms those of countries such as Sweden, Japan, Australia and France, all of which offer universal health care coverage to their citizens at lower overall cost than we do. And Canadians are frustrated with the inability of governments to fix the system, despite extracting ever-increasing amounts of money from taxpayers.

Significantly, a growing percentage of Canadians (now 44%) say that health care services should be provided by a mix of providers, rather than primarily by governments. And 70% of Canadians say they should have the freedom to purchase the health services they need from whichever health care provider they choose.

We therefore propose critical surgery, not more tinkering, to improve and sustain health care for you and your family: Eliminate the federal role in health care management and financing; give the provinces the tax room vacated by Ottawa; eliminate barriers to private delivery and financing of health services; maximize the freedom of Canadians to choose their health care providers; and give those providers the freedom and incentive to implement major health care improvements. The objective is to ensure that Canadians will continue to be fully insured against catastrophic illness and to have universal access to all medically necessary services regardless of ability to pay, while gaining faster access to better care at lower cost.

REBALANCE THE ECONOMY TO PROVIDE MORE JOBS AND HIGHER TAKE HOME PAY

While Canada’s governments impose heavy taxes, constrain economic activity by extensive regulation and consume over 40% of the gross national product, 64% of Canadians believe they get "less than their money’s worth" from taxes paid to governments, 68% believe their standard of living would increase if their taxes were reduced rather than increased and 52% think that the economy would perform better if businesses, investors, workers and consumers had more freedom to conduct their economic affairs as they see fit.

We therefore propose a major rebalancing of Canada’s economy -- a shift of about $300-billion (up to $80-billion annually) in national income over the next six years from the hands of politicians and bureaucrats into the hands of individuals, families, businesses and civil society. This can be accomplished by constraining the growth of total government spending to 3.1% per year and passing the tax savings on to Canadians. The principal effect of these reforms will be to substantially increase the personal incomes, job opportunities and standards of living of individuals and families.

CONTINENTAL TRADE

More Canadian jobs and incomes depend on our trade with the United States than on our trading relations with all other countries of the world combined. Canada needs to strengthen, not further weaken, our relationship with our largest customer and trading partner.

We therefore also recommend that Canada actively pursue its national interests in continental trade and security by pursing a new Customs Agreement with the United States. Such an agreement would involve the creation of a common tariff and quota system, the elimination of rules of origin, mutual administration of common tariffs and trade regulations, and mutual responsibility for border security. The primary benefits to Canadians will be increased trade, employment, and incomes, and increased protection for those jobs and incomes from border security disruptions.

These are big, bold ideas. They build on our national legacy of great accomplishments, and will help ensure "A Canada Strong and Free" for years to come.


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