The recent Supreme Court decision on the issue of buying private health insurance to cover medically necessary services in Quebec is not a licence to privatize Canada’s health care system. But it does have pro-privatization business interests smelling blood.
This is why Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh needs to hear from you!
After the ruling came down, Dosanjh and Prime Minister Paul Martin rushed to try to assure Canadians that they will not allow “two-tier” health care in Canada. But the growth of private clinics is creating that reality, right now.
Minister Dosanjh must be pressured to address the real problems behind waiting lists. He must also properly monitor and enforce the Canada Health Act. This includes taking action against private, for-profit clinics that are undermining the public system and banning public private partnerships (P3s) in health care.
Private clinics are entrenching a two-tier system for those with money and weakening the public system for the rest of us by drawing trained staff away. This limits our access to health care, a clear violation of the Canada Health Act’s principle of “accessibility” and undermines the “universality” of health care, another CHA principle.
The federal government is doing a terrible job of monitoring, enforcing and reporting on the Act. The Health Minister’s annual reports to Parliament on the Canada Health Act are full of holes – missing huge swaths of data on private clinics and for-profit services. Most provinces simply do not provide the data, and the federal government is not pushing them to do so.
The Minister himself says private clinics hurt the system. He recently told a Vancouver radio station that “[w]hen you have a lot of [private clinics] you will have all of the energy and all of the assets and all of the personnel drained from the public system, and the public system would be far worse than it is today.”
Further, Dosanjh stated for-profit, private clinics are “absolutely not a panacea” for long wait times, and he admitted they are “not any more efficient or less expensive” than public health services.
Stopping private clinics and other forms of health care privatization (including the contracting out of support services, public private partnerships for hospital infrastructure, and de-listing services from provincial health plans), is the first step in strengthening public health care. CUPE also calls for stable funding for public delivery in all areas – acute care, long-term care, mental health and home and community care.
A national Pharmacare program and community-based health centres will bring greater efficiency to our system. And, CUPE believes that health care must be exempted from trade agreements that try to lock privatization into place.
It’s good to see that Dosanjh is aware that private clinics hurt the public system. But we need to tell Dosanjh: Talk is good, but action is better.
Now it’s time for action. Dosanjh must withhold funding to provinces that license or fund private clinics, and insist that those provinces bring privatized services such as lab, diagnostic and surgical services back into the public health care system.
Send an email to Health Minister Dosanjh now. Tell him to take real action by enforcing the Canada Health Act and stopping the private clinics that threaten our public system.