OTTAWA Amid ongoing upheaval involving health care workers from coast to coast, and in the face of evidence that user fees limit access for the poor, the last thing Canadians need is yet another study into whether health user fees can save Medicare.
Yet Prime Minister Jean Chrt0069en is urging the commission looking into Medicares future to study user fees, ignoring the serious damage that rampant underfunding not rampant abuse of the system has caused to health care.
For the second time in two months, politicians are trying to force privatization on the commissions agenda and we wont stand for it. Last month Mike Harris. This month the prime minister wants a look at user fees. This in spite of dozens of studies including a major Saskatchewan report – showing user fees fail on many fronts, most disturbingly by denying care to the poor, said Judy Darcy, National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Canadas largest health care union.
Chrt0069ens comments look dangerously like a prime minister advocating abandoning the Canada Health Act. User fees would clearly violate the Canada Health Act. Chrt0069en along with Harris and Klein have had their chance to speak on health care now we need to hear from the people who it affects directly, the citizens of Canada, said Maude Barlow, volunteer National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians.
Canadians are already paying far too many health costs out of their own pockets, shouldering increasing expenses for prescription drugs, dental care, de-listed services and health insurance premiums. Far from strengthening Medicare, further privatizing costs onto the backs of individuals will erode Medicare for those who need it most vulnerable poor and elderly Canadians.
If there are lessons to be learned from Sweden, lets take them from the fact the Swedish government recently put a stop to any more privatization, and from the Swedish health official who admitted that administering user fees cost as much as the fees brought in, added Darcy.
The Prime Minister has made a career of political interference. We believe this issue and this commission is too important to allow it to be derailed by political musings. We intend to see the real concerns of Canadians are heard by the Commission, said Barlow.
CUPE and the Council of Canadians are calling for public solutions to strengthen and expand Medicare, including the realization of longstanding Liberal promises for national home care and pharmacare programs.
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CUPE is Canadas largest union, representing one half million workers across the country. The Council of Canadians is Canadas citizens watchdog organization, comprised of over 100,000 members in 50 chapters.
For more information, contact:
Catherine Louli, CUPE Communications
(613) 237-1590 ext. 268
Jennifer Story, Media Officer, Council of Canadians
(613) 233-4487 ext. 234; cell (613) 795-8685