With renewed funding, Prime Minister Paul Martin, Provincial Premier and Territorial Leaders promised to rebuild the health care system with their Ten-Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care during the First Minister’s meeting in the fall of 2004. They explained that the federal pledge of $41 billion would mean reduced waiting lists and higher quality care for “everyone”.
However, as money began to flow, the “everyone” part of the pledge did not materialize. Federal money has gone to provinces without strings tied to non-profit and public delivery. For-profit health care companies, and those who can afford to pay, have benefited, while average working Canadians have seen less health care and more privatization.
There has been a weak federal government response to the Supreme Court decision in favour of for-profit care [the Chaoulli case]. Some provinces are seeing this as an opportunity to allow more privatized care. For-profit health care clinics and P3 hospitals have not been banned.
Federal Health Minister Dosanjh has not monitored or enforced the Canada Health Act that ensures health care delivery is public and non-profit. 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. The federal government isn’t pushing all provinces to provide data.
Canadians have seen Alberta’s premier Ralph Klein pushing for-profit care with his ‘Third Way’ plan again. They’ve seen Ontario’s premier Dalton McGuinty pushing privatization further with newly proposed P3 hospitals [public private partnerships]. Premier Bernard Lord is ‘open’ to for-profit companies in New Brunswick, while Premier Jean Charest in Quebec allows for-profit clinics to multiply, and the list keeps growing.
Canadians have also seen cuts to services and privatization that have meant unsafe and unclean conditions in our hospitals. BC, Ontario, Quebec and many other towns and cities in Canada have suffered considerably. Superbug infections are increasing.
This inventory documents Canada’s health care system “innovations” that have come to light since the signing of the Health Accord in September 2004. Today there are more P3, more private for-profit clinics and more private health care services being offered than ever before.
“Innovation” Exposed documents more than 106 new major privatization initiatives announced since the 2003 Health Accord was signed, including more than 61 new initiatives since September 1, 2004. No government is tracking this development. There is a lack of documentation of this privatizing trend in Canadian health care. This document is an attempt to try to fill the information gaps.
In a previous “Innovation Exposed 2003-2004”, we explained how for-profit health care is inefficient, poorer quality and more expensive than public health care. We also explained how dangerous allowing for-profit health care into Canada is, in terms of its relationship with trade deals (See Trade and health care).
Canadians do not want “innovations” that mean health care workers, mainly women and people of colour, lose their jobs or suffer serious pay cuts. Innovations through service cuts, for-profit contracting out and privatization, is not the answer to our health care “problems” big business would have us believe.
A note on the text:
This is a living document, with new entries added as we learn more about the complexities of privatization. It is not a comprehensive accounting but does provide a clear picture of the startling scope of major health care privatization initiatives at the provincial and local levels. The pace is so fast that often our terminology – and how we classify and describe forms of privatization – can fall slightly behind. The inventory, in this version, distinguishes three major forms of privatization:
- Private, for-profit hospitals (often P3s);
- Private facilities and services (clinics, for example); and
- Contracting out.
De-listing of services is, for now, mentioned in connection with “private facilities and services”. This will likely change in the coming weeks and months, as CUPE and other defenders of public health care collect and catalogue the raft of services that are being de-listed from provincial health insurance plans. De-listing is itself a major form of privatization and is a key strategy on the part of provinces that seek to diminish the public system’s scope and relevance, while professing its vigorous defence.
The chief sources for this inventory are media reports from mainstream media and health-related trade journals. Each entry under the provincial heading is a summary of the initiative with corresponding sources below it, and the entries are arranged by type of privatization.