OTTAWA, June 11 /CNW Telbec/ - The head of the Canadian Medical
Association (CMA), Dr. Brian Day, continues to either ignore or deny critical
facts about the privatization of health care.
In his latest propaganda campaign, Day touts recent reforms to the UK's
National Health Service (NHS) as a contending model for Canada to follow. This
despite stated warnings from his UK counterparts about how the so-called
'English Experiment' in health care reforms has proven disastrous.
No wonder Day has turned to Europe to make his case - he knows full well
that Canadians soundly rebuff US-style privatized health care.
Day's assertions are code for a kind of privatization that critics the
world over and here at home have deemed woefully inappropriate for Canada's
health care system.
1. The idea of putting patients first is well and good. But to do so is
to ensure the most level and yes - quality - of playing fields. Day
advocates 'patient choice' - an agenda that sounds noble on the surface,
but actually puts patients on disparate playing fields. He claims to
support single-tier health care, but any model of the sort would
ultimately lead to two-tier health care. Canadians have repeatedly and
resoundingly rejected the notion of two-tier health care, so why does Day
keep playing that song?
Real solutions to improve Canada's public health care system must focus
on accessible and quality health care for every person in need. Period.
2. NHS reform concepts like internal markets, volume-based funding, and
incentives deserve far more analysis than has been given them. Turning
the British health care system into a marketplace unto its own by
allocating public money based on volume and type of service has pitted
hospitals against each other, created disparities between rural and urban
facilities (not to mention specialty and general hospitals), and chaos
for patients. Let's be clear: any talk of 'competition' - even within a
publicly-funded system - is code for privatization. The Scottish
government went so far as to deem the market-based approach to health
care "the Trojan horse allowing in privatization in its various forms."
Real solutions to improve Canada's public health care system must foster
collaboration between institutions, provide the widest range of quality
services to the broadest spectrum of the population, and exclude the
private sector from any service delivery.
3. The private sector doesn't hold exclusive rights to innovation. Day
knows of advancements being made within the public system he seems eager
to write off. We needn't look to the private sector to save health care
when so much ingenuity exists right in the public domain. Take the
concern about wait times, for example: public innovations like the
Alberta Hip and Knee Replacement Project reduced joint replacement wait
times from 19 months to 11 weeks while the Saskatchewan Surgical Care
network has vastly improved the queue for surgeries. The public system
needs government leadership to turn pilot project innovations into long-
term, deep-rooted change. Even the Health Council of Canada, in its
latest report, concluded "the public sector can deliver more accessible,
more equitable, and higher-quality care" through public innovations.
Real solutions to improve Canada's public health care system must support
health care providers in working in high-functioning, multi-disciplinary,
4. Health care is not a commodity. Neither are patients. The volume-based
payment scheme within the NHS reforms that Day so aggressively champions
has furthered health inequalities between the rich and poor. And the more
the private sector moves into health care delivery, the more patients and
services become measured in terms of profitability.
Real solutions to improve Canada's public health care system must hold
central the idea of health care as a public service and more importantly,
as a public value. Time and again, Canadians have ranked our public
health care system as one of this country's most prized achievements.
Let's not slide backwards.
5. Since moving on the very reforms Day would have us believe are
inspiring, the UK's NHS is simply not working. Even the UK National
Health Service Consultants' Association cautioned Day last year that the
"health care turmoil in the UK has escalated with private sector
involvement causing much of the chaos we predicted."
Why Dr. Day so fervently wants Canada to move its health care system in a
direction that has proven a mistaken one for the UK is beyond
CUPE put forward other real solutions for health care in its recent
presentation to the federal Standing Committee on Health. We know what we're
talking about, and have homegrown facts to back it up. We will continue to
decode the myths perpetrated by Dr. Day and other opponents of public health
Canada needs system reforms that protect - not fragment - health care,
that encourage unity - not competition - between healthcare professionals, and
that seek to fund health care in effective - not wasteful - ways.
If only Dr. Day desired the same.
Paul Moist, National President
Canadian Union of Public Employees
CUPE is Canada's largest union, representing 570,000 workers across
Canada, nearly 200,000 of whom serve at the front-lines of health care in
hospitals, nursing homes, home support agencies, and other settings.
For further information:
For further information: Pam Kapoor, CUPE communications, (613)