TORONTO, Nov. 21, 2014 /CNW/ - The Liberal government's announcement that it is taking steps to put the brakes on medical tourism in Ontario is being greeted as welcome news by the coalition of health organizations that has been calling for the government to end the practice.
In a statement Friday afternoon, Minister of Health Eric Hoskins indicated he has issued a letter to all Ontario hospitals requesting that they not market to, solicit or treat international patients – with the exception of international patient activity related to a hospital's existing international consulting contracts. He has also pledged that the Ministry of Health will work with relevant hospitals on a framework to ensure compliance with the outlined principles and requirements. In the interim, he has asked hospitals not to enter into new international consulting contracts that include the treatment of foreign nationals in Ontario.
"We are pleased that the Health Minister has listened to our concerns. Thousands of health-care professionals have written letters to Premier Wynne and Minister Hoskins demanding the kind of action we are seeing today," said Doris Grinspun, Chief Executive Officer of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario, which, along with representatives from Canadian Doctors for Medicare, the Association of Ontario Midwives, and the Association of Ontario Health Centres formed a coalition to press the government to act on their demands.
Adrianna Tetley, CEO of the Association of Ontario Health Centres, praised Health Minister Hoskins for taking the right stand on the issue. "We're very pleased with the direction in which Minister Hoskins is heading. Medical tourism undermines our universal, publicly funded and not-for-profit health system and we will keep working on this issue until there is a complete ban."
Kelly Stadelbauer, Executive Director of the Association of Ontario Midwives, said her members are also encouraged by the decision because "midwives care about the system in which they work and have always been opposed to any scheme that turns health into a for-profit commodity to be bought and sold."
After admitting last month that several Ontario hospitals have been providing care on a for-profit basis to people from outside Canada and generating millions of dollars in revenue, Minister Hoskins said on Friday that he is "committed to working with the hospitals to continue to protect our universal health-care system."
Dan Raza, Board Member of Canadian Doctors for Medicare said "we welcome Minister Hoskins' announcement today because it ensures that publicly funded health-care resources will not be diverted away from treating Ontarians. We recognize the budgetary challenges that hospitals face, but we believe that there are innovations that can improve the financial sustainability of our health-care system without resorting to a two-tier care delivery model."
The coalition says it will closely monitor the promised changes over the next few months to ensure the province lives up to its promise and bans medical tourism for good.
The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve. For more information about RNAO, visit our website at RNAO.ca or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Canadian Doctors for Medicare is a physician-led organization committed to evidence-based advocacy and innovation that will protect and improve Canada's single-payer universal health care system. For more information about CDM, visit www.canadiandoctorsformedicare.ca
The Association of Ontario Midwives is the professional organization representing midwives and the profession of midwifery in Ontario. For more information about Ontario Midwives, visit www.OntarioMidwives.ca and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
The Association of Ontario Health Centres (AOHC) is Ontario's voice for community-governed primary health care. The association represents 111 community-governed primary health-care organizations. Membership includes Ontario's Community Health Centres, Aboriginal Health Access Centres, Community Family Health Teams and Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics. For more information, visit us at www.aohc.org and follow up on Facebook and Twitter.
SOURCE: Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario
For further information: or to arrange an interview, please contact: Marion Zych, Director of Communications, RNAO, Office: 416-408-5605, Cellular: 647-406-5605, [email protected]; Katie Raso, Communication and Outreach Officer, CDM, 647-705-2192, [email protected]; Juana Berinstein, Director of Policy and Communications, AOM, Office: 416-425-9974 extension: 2229, [email protected]; Adrianna Tetley, Chief Executive Officer, AOHC, Office: 416-689-9352, [email protected]