New CMA chief offers wrong prescription for Canada's health-care system

    TORONTO, Aug. 20 /CNW/ - As Dr. Robert Ouellet assumes the presidency of
the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), registered nurses in Ontario say he
should not ignore the many health-care professionals who disagree with his
diagnosis that more private delivery is needed to meet the health-care needs
of Canadians.
    Members of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) urge the
new CMA president to take a look at the evidence, the ingenuity and the
capacity that already exists within the publicly funded health-care system to
deliver effective and efficient care.
    Dr. Ouellet outlined his vision in his inaugural speech to members of the
CMA at their convention in Montreal on Wednesday. Dr. Ouellet, who owns a
string of five private diagnostic clinics, is taking over the presidency from
Dr. Brian Day, the owner of a for-profit surgical facility in Vancouver.
    In his speech, Dr. Ouellet compares the health-care needs of Canadians to
telephones. Citing an example of how competition was good for long distance
rates, he argues introducing more private care into our health system will
make it better. RNAO says the argument is off base because health isn't a
commodity, it's a human right.
    "Dr. Ouellet's vision of increased competition through privatization is a
continuation of his predecessor's. It's a vision that gives up on our current
system and favours those who can afford to pay out of their pocket if they
don't want to wait," says RNAO President Wendy Fucile. Fucile adds health-care
services should be based on need not on ability to pay.
    Another idea endorsed by the CMA is a market model for hospital funding
couched as "patient-focused funding." RNAO says this kind of competitive model
already exists in the United Kingdom and has come under criticism from the
British Medical Association, which questioned its efficiency both in terms of
cost and quality of care.
    "Much like his predecessor, Dr. Ouellet, would have us believe that the
CMA board supports a universal health-care system, but neither physician has
credibility on this point given their continued push for commercialization and
privatization," says Fucile.
    RNAO is calling on all Canadians, including physicians, who disagree with
the CMA's views on privatization to make themselves heard. RNAO also wants
federal health minister Tony Clement to reject any measures that weaken the
country's Medicare system. The association says the government should uphold
and enforce the Canada Health Act and introduce policies that invest in health
human resources, improve access to primary health care, and foster
interdisciplinary teams to solve wait times.

    The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional
association representing registered nurses wherever they practise in Ontario.
Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied 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 further information:

For further information: Marion Zych, Director of Communications,
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario, Phone: (416) 599-1925,
1-800-268-7199 ext. 209, (647) 406-5605 (cellular phone)

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