Welcome to the second episode. I know this one is likely to be a touchy subject for many of you, but here are my thoughts on government and spending money on AIDS drugs and treatment in poor countries.
Basically, my opinion boils down to this – don’t waste money on AIDS overseas. Now I agree that some money should be spent on AIDS research, that is, finding a cure or proper treatment. However, I think that money only needs to be spent at home. Pay our doctors and scientists to work on finding a cure. It is beyond me how spending taxpayers money on AIDS overseas delivers any benefit back to us. Lets say we cure them of AIDS, then what? They are still poor. They still live in dirty, inadequate housing. They still don’t have clean water. (1) If they don’t die from AIDS, they will likely die from something else anyways. That’s harsh, but that’s reality.
Instead of government spending all this money in poor countries, why not lobby to create more organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation? They are rich people, who will never be able to spend all the money they have. In their short four year history (founded January 2000), the foundation has awarded grants totaling $3,648,344,041 USD on Global Health alone (2). They also donate to Education, a Global Library Program, and more. There are MANY more people who could do something similar (albeit in smaller amounts).
When we talk about giving back to society, that’s the example I think we need to follow. I know the world isn’t perfect, and not all the wealthy want to share, but its something to strive for. Instead of stealing from the average (Canadian taxpayers) to give to the poor, why not have the rich donate to the poor? I can tell you with complete honesty that I would rather see the Canadian government spend money on hospitals in my city than on poor countries around the world. Screw our “international position” for once. Look out for #1!
With that, let’s see how our political parties fare:
Liberal Party – http://www.liberal.ca
According to Martin’s announced platform, his Liberal government would “dedicate $100 million – fully half the funding required by the World Health Organization” for the WHO’s plan to ensure 3 million people suffering from AIDS receive treatment by 2005. Additionally, the Liberals plan to increase their contribution to the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria by $70 million. Total cost? $170 million dollars. Why do we have to contribute half? Are the other 190 countries in the UN not capable of doing their part?
Let’s compare that to Martin’s plan for health care at home. The platform website includes eleven paragraphs about health care in Canada, yet only the last one offers any sort of financial figures (granted they have a graph showing that health care spending has gone up over time – duh it should as we grow in numbers and the population ages). The Liberals say they “have already committed $37 billion in new money over five years from 2003-04.” They go on to say that they will “do more”. How about taking even HALF of that astronomical amount being spent on AIDS elsewhere and putting it into our health care system? Comparatively, $170 million is nothing against $37 billion, but when benefit is already so hard to come by, why spend any of it elsewhere?
Awarded: 1 Point
Conservative Party – http://www.conservative.ca/
Harper’s platform is very similar to the Liberals in terms of health care spending at home. The party is committed to implementing the Health Accord which consists of $36.8 billion in new funding. One thing I noticed that I find interesting is that the Conservatives plan to clear the drug approval backlog and bring drug approval times in line with the US. I think that is good for everyone.
Their platform does not mention spending on AIDS anywhere. The only reference I was able to find is that the Conservatives will support “patent reform to allow low-cost generic drugs to be sold in Africa for the relief of AIDS and other epidemics.” Sounds good to me as long as the Canadian government doesn’t make up the difference.
Awarded: 3 Points
NDP – http://www.ndp.ca/
The NDP platform for health care at home is a little different than the first two. Layton’s NDP plans to implement the Romanow plan and pay 25% of provincial health care costs within two years. Another interesting part of the platform is that they plan to outlaw the practice of “evergreening” prescription drugs that delay the availability of cheaper, generic drugs. No where in the platform is the Health Accord mentioned.
On the AIDS front, the NDP plan to, like the Conservatives, make generic drugs available to Africa and developing countries. Like the Liberals, the NDP platform calls for a tripling of existing funding for the Global Fund for AIDS. That will bring spending for the fund to roughly $105 million.
Awarded: 1 Points
Bloc Québécois – http://www.bloc.org/
Okay as you probably know, I don’t speak French fluently, let alone read or write it. Armed with a translator however, searching their PDF platform, I was able to determine no references to either the Health Accord or the Romanow Report.
All I was able to understand from their section on International Aid, excuse me, L’aide internationale, is that the Bloc plans to increase the percentage of GDP spent on foreign aid. Specifically they mention nutrition, child welfare, and AIDS.
Awarded: 0 Points
Green Party – http://www.greenparty.ca/
Similar to the NDP, the Green Party health plan includes implementing the Romanow Report. They also have the best platform site in my opinion, as it includes a handy search box! The NDP uses PDF so you can search it, but PDF is too slow for my tastes. Another interesting aspect of their health care plan is that they plan to fund public pharmaceutical research.
Using the wonderful search feature, I found no references to AIDS. Assuming they are more like to tell you if they are spending money on something rather than NOT spending money on something, I think we can assume the Green Party won’t waste money on AIDS overseas.
Awarded: 3 Points
So there you have it! This second episode is more in-depth than the first one, and covers a topic that has always been a sticking point for me. I just don’t know why Canada has to be the country that looks after the rest of the world. Until the next episode, here are the current standings:
- Green Party – 6 points
- Conservatives – 5 points
- Liberal Party – 4 points
- NDP – 1 point
- Bloc Québécois – 0 points
1: Impact of Poverty on AIDS in Africa
2: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
3: Information under each party heading found from their respective websites.
To see my other articles in this series, look here.