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Council of Canadians & CUPE health care tour concludes in Regina


A 5-community tour in defence of public health care concluded in Regina yesterday evening.

The tour, which highlighted the latest threats to public health care in Saskatchewan, visited Prince Albert (Sept. 13), Yorkton (Sept. 14), Battleford (Sept. 15), Weyburn (Sept. 16) and Regina (Sept. 17).

The Regina Leader Post reports, “Canada’s medicare system is under the most serious attack it’s ever faced, says Michael Butler. The national health care campaigner for the Council of Canadians, Canada’s leading social justice and environmental non-profit organization, Butler made that comment during a town hall meeting at the Italian Club on Thursday evening. …Butler says people want a ‘robust, universal, public medicare system’ available to them when they require health care services. Instead, under Brad Wall’s leadership, he says the government has ignored ‘evidence-based research’ showing public-private partnerships (P3s) have no place in health care.”

That article adds, “Butler claims P3s are not only costlier in the long run, but will provide poorer service to patients. ‘The Brad Wall government, they’re playing politics with your health’, Butler said. ‘This government relies on blind ideology instead of evidence and facts.’ He admits health care is a complex situation, but wonders whether his elderly mother might have had to wait longer to have surgery if Saskatchewan had private clinics that, like in Alberta, saw queue jumping become commonplace.”

The tour came about because, as CBC reported in May, “Health Minister Dustin Duncan introduced legislation that would pave the way for more people to get private [MRI] scans, if they have the cash. It proposes that patients could pay a private clinic for a magnetic resonance imaging scan if they choose. Duncan said the changes could be in place to allow for MRI scans at private clinics as soon as [the spring of 2016]. For every scan paid for privately, clinics would be required to provide a scan at no charge to a patient on the public wait list. The price of a private MRI will be set by the clinic, and the idea is it will cover the cost of at least two MRIs.”

The tour was also in the context of the Wall government wanting to open a P3 hospital in North Battleford. Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has highlighted, “The hospital plans are part of a broader push to privatize public health care in Saskatchewan. Whether in Brad Wall’s latest musings about private MRIs on social media, or in his government’s damaging moves to privatize long-term care facilities, laundry services, surgeries and diagnostic services, there’s no room for profit in our public health care system. Privatization hurts patients and communities by eroding access to quality care, and endangering good jobs.”

Beyond today’s news report in the Regina Leader Post, there was also coverage of the tour by the Battlefords News-Optimist, the Prince Albert Daily Herald, CKRM and the Yorkton News Review. For a full length interview with Butler by the labour news website Rank and File, please click here.

Further reading
Council of Canadians and CUPE launch 5-city tour against the privatization of health care in Saskatchewan (September 14 blog)

Photo: Butler speaks in Regina last night.