CUPE Ontario unleashed a powerful voice to challenge governments and others like right-wing think-tanks that want to make a market out of our health care system. British MP Frank Dobson, a former Minister of Health under Tony Blair, toured Ontario for two weeks and spread the message right across the country that privatization of health care doesn’t work.
“Don’t leap into competition and privatized health system. It’s not working well in Britain,” was Dobson’s key message upon arriving in Canada. Dobson has become the most vocal critic of Blair’s policies, which are leading to extensive service privatization and contracting out of that country’s National Health Service (NHS).
“The British experience is particularly timely,” said Dobson. The British model, focused on privatization and a payment per-procedure system intended to foster competition among health care providers, is similar to the restructuring that the Ontario Liberals are proposing — and that can be seen in practice — in the province’s wait-times strategy.
Ontario’s Conservative leader John Tory has been an outspoken advocate for private surgeries, ignoring the U.K. experience that private delivery of acute care is actually more expensive. Britain’s National Health Service spending has doubled since 1997.
Dobson’s anti-privatization message was well-covered locally and on nation-wide media including Canada AM and CBC Newsworld. The British MP was joined on tour by CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan, Ontario Council of Hospitals Union (OCHU) President Michael Hurley and Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) Director Natalie Mehra.