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The Coalition Solidarité Santé and the Council of Canadians Are Concerned by Doctors Embracing Privatization and Two-Tier Health Care

August 19, 2008
4:38 PM

CONTACT: Council of Canadians
Dylan Penner, Media Officer, (613) 233-4487, ext. 249;
Claudelle Cyr, Coalition Solidarité Santé, (514) 268-7320

The Coalition Solidarité Santé and the Council of Canadians
Are Concerned by Doctors Embracing Privatization
and Two-Tier Health Care
MONTREAL - August 18 - At their annual general meeting in Montreal from August 17-20, members of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) will examine "patient-focused funding," a hospital funding model presently used in the United Kingdom. The Coalition Solidarité Santé and the Council of Canadians are concerned with the trend in certain medical circles towards greater private financing of our health system.

"In 2007, executive members of the National Health Service Consultants Association wrote to the CMA to warn them of the pitfalls of the British model," said Claudelle Cyr, spokesperson for the Coalition Solidarité Santé. "According to these British doctors, neither patient focused funding, nor increased privatization, nor has freedom of choice on the part of the patient led to the results that were expected."

While some doctors in Canada support a two-tier medical system, it has been proven that a public, universal and accessible health care system remains the best option. These doctors cling to the impossible position that health care should be treated as a consumer product.

"Quebec continues to be ground zero for health care privatization," says Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. "With a proliferation of private clinics, and particularly diagnostic clinics, a provincial government that favours health care privatization, and the refusal of the Quebec government to provide any kind of report to the federal government under the Canada Health Act, public health care faces serious threats in this province."

The nominations to the CMA board of directors of John Rapin as president and Joanne Vézina only seem to reinforce the association's tendency towards increased privatization. As a Conservative candidate in the last Ontario provincial elections, John Rapin stated he was in favour of public-private partnerships in the health sector. Joanne Vézina is also a member of the board of La Survivance, a life and health insurance company.

"Is that not a conflict of interest? At this rate, it wouldn't be surprising to find the CMA making new proposals for private insurance services", says Cyr, who adds that the fact that Quebec's former health minister, Philippe Couillard, is about to take on a new role at one of the province's private health insurance companies also doesn't bode well for public health care in the province. "As a former minister, Mr. Couillard knows a lot about the government's plans with regard to increased health care privatization. This is quite worrying," says Cyr.

"With Robert Ouellet, a private clinic owner who, like his predecessor, Dr. Brian Day, trumpets the call for privatization, the CMA appears set on a dangerous path towards dismantling medicare," adds Barlow. "Canadians support a strong public health care system and both levels of government have a responsibility to get involved and stop the privatization that is happening across the country."

"Health care might come at a cost but health is priceless. We cannot endorse a two-tier system that will only benefit insurance companies. Before we had public health care, the main cause for personal bankruptcy in Quebec was accumulated debts from health care costs," says Cyr.

In the end, the challenges facing our public health system can be fixed with public solutions, not private ones.


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