Recent comments by Don Drummond, the $1500-a-day Bay Street banker hired by the Ontario Liberals to cut public service funding, that the Canada Health Act is “completely irrelevant” should give the Premier pause about who he’s entrusted to protect universal health care,” says Michael Hurley the president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU).
While Drummond’s latest musings on universal health care were made on CBC - The House a few days ago, Drummond has for years been a clear proponent of health care privatization, user fees and even imposing a tax on Ontario’s sickest-generally, seniors and the poor. Last March, when the Liberals announced the commission to review public services that Drummond is heading, they were clear “the commission will not make recommendations that would increase taxes or lead to the privatization of health care or education.”
But in a recent report to the C.D. Howe Institute, Drummond did just that, said Hurley. Drummond calls for “greater private sector involvement” in Ontario’s health system through a “policy that encourages competition among providers.”
“In other words,” says Hurley, “let’s expand corporate opportunities to profit from the public service of healthcare. And that’s just the first chapter.” In his appearance on The House, Drummond says: “at some point…you have to bring in some revenues…so there has
to be a second chapter.”
If the Liberals follow Drummond’s “re-design” for healthcare, the second chapter may well come in the form of user-fees, higher co-payments for drugs even for seniors receiving the Ontario Drug Benefit, and “sick taxes” charging patients at tax time for their usage of health care.
These are all “reforms” that Drummond recommends in his C.D. Howe report, and in earlier reports for the Canadian Medical Association and TD Bank.
In 2004, the Ontario Liberals passed legislation called ‘The Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act’ reaffirming the commitment of “the people of Ontario and their government”, to the Canada Health Act. ”It begs the question, are the McGuinty Liberals on the verge of breaking their promise to defend Medicare? Or are they going to distance themselves from Drummond’s clear bias against universal health care?” Asks Hurley.
“As a private citizen, Mr. Drummond is entitled to his opinion that the Canada Health Act is irrelevant and that privatization is the solution to everything. That’s what you get when you appoint a banker to develop public policy behind closed doors. However, he’s now on the government payroll. The Premier has legal responsibilities to guarantee universal and accessible healthcare to all Ontarians. If he follows Drummond’s advice, the Premier will be in clear violation of those responsibilities and will cause irreparable harm to publicly delivered health care in Ontario,” warned Hurley.