BC and federal governments at odds with public on health care accessibility

    VANCOUVER, Nov. 30 /CNW Telbec/ - Canadian Doctors for Medicare (CDM) and
The Council of Canadians are concerned that the BC government is deeply out of
sync with the public when it comes to health care accessibility.
    This afternoon's release of the summary of input for the BC Conversation
on Health shows BC residents want to preserve and strengthen the public health
care system and ensure there is access to health care services regardless of
where people live, or how much money they make.
    "This is in direct contrast to the decision Health Minister George Abbott
announced two days ago, when he was seemingly unaffected by the results of the
Medical Services Commission investigation that sanctioned the Copeman Clinic.
This clinic makes people pay thousands of dollars before they can see a doctor
- it's clearly a barrier to access," said Carleen Pickard, BC Regional
Organizer for the Council of Canadians.
    CDM and the Council of Canadians are calling on the BC government release
the entire report of the Medical Services Commission investigation into the
controversial Copeman Clinic.
    "Access to family physicians and primary health care is an issue for all
citizens, but most patients cannot afford to pay the thousands of dollars
charged by the Copeman clinic,' said Dr. Danielle Martin of Canadian Doctors
for Medicare. "If the BC government has concluded, based on the report of the
Medical Services Commission, that the Copeman clinic is not breaking the law
by charging fees as a condition of gaining access to medical services, it has
an obligation to release that report. The government cannot be allowed to hide
the report, when its key findings could be made available without in any way
jeopardizing physician or patient confidentiality."
    In today's press conference, Minister Abbott acknowledged the
proliferation of private clinics in BC and spoke openly in favour of their
expansion. He referred specifically to the Copeman Clinic, False Creek
Surgical Centre and the Cambie Surgery Centre acknowledging that private
surgeries and private health care delivery is growing in the province.
    "BC residents were clear in the Conversation on Health that they want
publicly-funded and publicly-delivered health care. The summary of The
Conversation on Health reflects this," said Ms. Pickard. "The BC government
should be reflecting the will of the people and shutting down private
    With concerns raised about the legality of these clinics, it is long
overdue for the federal government to get involved, says Guy Caron, Health
Care Campaigner for the Council of Canadians.
    "The federal government is responsible for enforcing the Canada Health
Act, but has been silent on the proliferation of private clinics, not only in
BC, but across the country," said Mr. Caron. "There is no leadership on the
issue of privatization and these private clinics that charge people money to
access services continue to operate unchecked. Where is the federal government
on this issue?"
    Canadian Doctors for Medicare and the Council of Canadians urge the BC
government to immediately disclose the full contents of the review of the
Copeman Clinic.

For further information:

For further information: Carleen Pickard, (604) 688-8846; Dr. Danielle
Martin, (416) 779-8841; Guy Caron, (613) 795-8088

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Council of Canadians

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