Public health advocates cut through election spin over public vs. private health care
The impact of for-profit health care on our public health care system took centre-stage this week in the federal election, and journalists called upon public health advocates to sort through the spin.
The Canadian Health Coalition provided analysis to well-known Ottawa-based reporter for the Toronto Star, Tonda MacCharles, who was writing about Liberals’ claims that the Conservatives supported two-tier, privatized health care.
- Read “Who would protect medicare — and who would trash it? Federal parties are fighting it out with competing visions of Canadian health care” by Tonda MacCharles in the Toronto Star
We were asked to comment on the role health care was playing amongst the parties.
“Clearly, the failure of private, for-profit, long-term-care facilities as exposed during the pandemic has to be corrected,” National Director of Policy and Advocacy Steve Staples said. “And the NDP is addressing it by phasing out long-term care in favour of the other two (kinds): public or non-profit. Conservatives seem to want to go in the opposite direction. And the Liberals don’t seem to be addressing the elephant in the room, which is the for-profit providers.”
On the same issue of public vs private health care, Canadian Press Parliamentary reporter Joan Bryden asked public health care advocates to assess a controversial interview of Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole from 2020.
Bryden asked, “Can O’Toole support private health care within universal public system?” as he states in the video? Both Canadian Doctors for Medicare’s Dr. Melanie Bechard, and the Canadian Health Coalition’s Steve Staples replied that he cannot.
“I would say that introducing more private pay into the health system undermines our universal public health care, regardless of whether or not you’re saying you’re still going to allow for universal access,” said Dr. Bechard.
- Read “Truth Test: Can O’Toole support private health care within universal public system?” by Joan Bryden
The Canadian Health Coalition pointed to the British Columbia Supreme Court ruling last September. Justice Steeves found, “that increases in privatization will not only benefit those who can afford to jump the queue, but it increases inequalities in the system, in particular by lengthening wait times for everybody else,” said Staples. “By increasing for-profit players into the health-care system, you will create a greater two-tier system.”
Bryden’s conclusion? “O’Toole has not explained how his support for allowing private, for-profit medical services squares with his assertion that he fully supports universal, public health care. Public health-care advocates say he can’t have it both ways,” she wrote.