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Coalition concerned that privatization will lead to downfall of public health care

Posted: June 15, 2017

Members of the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) were in Chatham recently as part of its ‘We Can’t Bear to Lose Medicare’ campaign, with a warning about the threat privatization poses to Canada’s public health-care system.

Peter Boyle, a volunteer member of the OHC touring with the bear, met with local coalition members in front of Downtown Chatham Centre, handing out information pamphlets to the public.

Boyle said while there are private clinics that do legitimate work, providing services to patients and billing OHIP, the concern is for-profit clinics that try to up-sell people for services that are not required. That can be a concern for the elderly or vulnerable people who feel pressured to spend more money for something they don’t necessarily need.

“All medically necessary tests or surgeries are covered by Canada’s public health-care program. If anybody charges you money, you either don’t need it, or they’re doing it illegally,” he said.

According to the OHC, private for-profit clinics are pushing to privatize services from public hospitals. The coalition cited a case currently before the BC Supreme Court led by Dr. Brian Day who is arguing that he should be able to “extra bill” his patients, contrary to the Canada Health Act that requires health care be provided equally to all patients.

Boyle said if the challenge is upheld, it will pave the way to create a two-tier health-care system – “one for people who can pay and one for the rest of us.” He used the example of an MRI clinic that’s covered by OHIP, which will let people jump the line and get in right away if they are willing to pay the $1,200 fee.

He also used the example of doctors charging for writing notes for employers, which he said they aren’t allowed to do, but people pay it because they don’t know they aren’t supposed to charge for it.

Noting there are only so many doctors and other healthcare professionals, he said private, for-profit clinics, will take away from the Canadian health-care system. Boyle said this year while we Canada celebrates its 150th birthday, “49 years of Medicare should be right at the top of the list of the things we appreciate in Canada”.

A report is due out this from the OHC that has been two years in the making, outlining the danger private clinics pose to Canada’s public health-care system. For a link to the report, go to http://www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca/wp-content/uploads/final-report.pdf or contact Chatham-Kent Health Coalition Chair Shirley Roebuck at goddess@bell.net.

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