Sources Media Release

News Release

Privatizing Health Care: No Debate Needed

July 5, 1995

The MRG issued the following media release on July 5:

Yesterday, the Canadian Medical Association wisely chose to reject a resolution calling for user fees and a two-tiered health care system. Although the vote was close, the delegates who rejected the resolution should be congratulated for putting the public interest ahead of narrow self-interest.

Unfortunately, the delegates passed a resolution calling for public debate and discussion about privatization. Such a debate is not only unnecessary, it will be destructive.

First, calling for a debate implies that there is a serious division of opinion. The Canada Health Act, legislation that enshrines universality, was passed unanimously by Parliament. Polls consistently show that Canadians overwhelmingly support our medical system, and the principle of universality.

Second, calling for a debate implies that privatization may solve the problems of the health care system. These problems are a result of inefficiencies within health care delivery, and cutbacks in federal transfer payments to the provincial governments which threaten the health of Canadians both through cuts to social programs, and restriction of health care funding.

We know the effects of privatization, and they will not address these problems. We see what privatization does when we look at the United States. There, we see a health care system that is far less efficient and more costly than ours, and leaves many without adequate coverage.

We see what privatization does when we look at dental care in Canada. Visits to physicians are virtually identical across income groups in Canada. Within the privatized dental system, however, Canadians in the lowest income quintile are only half as likely to see a dentist as those within the top quintile. Privatization will only lead to more, not less, money spent on health care. The money will be spent less equitably, and the poor, already threatened by social service cutbacks, will suffer further.

Third, we need a debate about some real solutions, and arguments about privatization draw us away from this debate. Issues that need discussion include understanding the link between poverty and poor health, and the reduction in social expenditures and poor health. We need to debate how we can persuade our federal politicians to stop transfer payment cuts. We need to address inefficiencies in the health care system, particularly those caused by the fee-for-service system that prevents effective management, while reinforcing unnecessary health care delivery.

The Medical Reform Group congratulates the Canadian Medical Association for their rejection of two-tiered health care. We call on them to stop the destructive and wasteful discussion, and move on to address some real solutions to very real health care problems.

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