The Coalition Solidarité Santé and the Council of Canadians are concerned by doctors embracing privatization and two-tier health care

    MONTREAL, Aug. 18 /CNW Telbec/ - 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.

For further information:

For further information: Dylan Penner, media officer, Council of
Canadians, (613) 233-4487, ext. 249; Claudelle Cyr, Coalition Solidarité
Santé, (514) 268-7320

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