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Right Wing Political Ideology is the Greatest Threat to Canada’s Health Care

There has been a lot written about Canada’s health care system. From books by Maude Barlow and Michael Rachlis to articles and sound research by the CCPA and Parkland Institute, there is lots of science and evidence-based policies and practices to build our health care upon.

Yet it seems after a day of intensive lobbying on Parliament Hill of all parties, the right-wing of the government has ignored all of the evidence. Their solution to Canada’s health care woes is to let the invisible hand of the market be our guide, or in their words “health care is a provincial jurisdiction and we’re not going to punish the provinces/territories for experimenting with alternative service delivery”.

There are many things that are wrong with this government statement. First of all health care is in fact both a provincial/ territorial and a federal responsibility. The Federal government is responsible for the Canada Health Act and it’s conditions (no extra billing, no user fees). Secondly,  “alternative service delivery” is code for privatisation and in several provinces in Canada private care has been delivered illegally.  Lastly, the studies conducted to assess public versus private delivery of health care services has shown (many times over) that public health care is cheaper, safer (seriously, you’re more likely to die in an investor-owned hospital), and more equitable. Some of you may remember that when Romanow began his fact finding mission in 2002, he asked for submissions from Canadians showing how private care was superior to public. He did not receive any submissions or evidence to support the for-profit dogma.

Breakfast- The Most Important Meal for Lobbying!

The Council of Canadians’ activists and board members were well prepared to hear and refute the for-profit cure mantra from Conservative Members of Parliament when we met with them on Thursday, December 1st. The lobbying took place the day after we gathered at the Chateau Laurier to listen to pro-public health care allies such as Roy Romanow, Diana Gibson, Natalie Mehra, Allan Maslove, Saideh Khadir, John Abbott, Michael Rachlis, Marc-Andre Gagnon, and Sharon Sholzberg-Gray (you can hear the same presentation here) talk at the Securing the Future of Medicare: A Call to Care and after we participated in an afternoon lobby session prepared by the Canadian Health Coalition.

Lobby Training November 30th with Pro-Public Health Care Allies

During the lobbying session on Thursday, Chapter activists, Council board members, along with health professionals, union activists and health coalition members, and I met with over 110 Members of Parliament from all three parties. We asked MPs about their commitment to publicly funded and publicly delivered not-for-profit health care, pharmacare, continuing care, palliative care. We shared personal stories with them about struggles in their constituencies to find affordable long term care, or to access home care. Many of the MPs knew of people struggling to pay for prescription drugs, or trying to find appropriate community care. It was incredibly exciting and energizing to leave a meeting with an MP, return to the lobby of the Confederation Building, Promenade, Justice building or East block and see the room full of Canadian Health Coalition lobbyists. We had a huge presence on the Hill and some very encouraging conversations with all parties!

We also, of course, had some difficult conversations, like the ones that still spout political dogma on private care. We talked to those MPs, we gave them our literature, and we discussed the evidence that is available. All of the MPs listen respectfully, some asking further questions, wanting statistics, or a deeper understanding (particularly on pharmacare) and we left the MPs will a kit of information on all of these topics. We still have a lot of work to do. While the CHC has been working hard to debunk the myths of medicare I’m afraid we’ve converted those looking for logic, science, and evidence-based and now we’re fighting those trying desperately to defend a political ideology.

At Dean Del Mastro’s Office

We will continue to put pressure on provincial/territorial and federal government for a 10 year accord, with a 6 per cent escalating transfer for the duration of those 10 years (thoughtful policy requires stable, longer term funding), and the inclusion of pharmacare, continuing care, vision care, dental care, and mental health services. We need the Federal government to take accountability for health care and to set national standards which are tied to funding (like we saw with wait times in 2004).

I encourage all of you to meet with your MLAs, MPPs, Premiers and Health Ministers. Ask them about the 2014 health care accord: what is their position; do they support a full continuum of publicly funded and publicly delivered health care from cradle-to-grave? Let us know if you do meet with them, or if there’s any assistance we can offer you so that you can meet with them. Be in touch with your regional office, and please be in touch with me.

Thank you to the Canadian Health Coalition for two wonderful days of events. And thank you to our tireless chapter activists and board members who came to Ottawa on their own time to lobby with us! You were all so incredible!

Perhaps not entirely “tireless”


1. CMAJ May 28, 2002 vol. 166 no. 11 1399-1406

CMAJ May 28, 2002 vol. 166 no. 11

Research. A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies comparing mortality rates of private for-profit and private not-for-profit hospitals. P.J. Devereaux, Peter T.L. Choi, Christina Lacchetti, Bruce Weaver, Holger J. Schünemann, Ted Haines, John N. Lavis, Brydon J.B. Grant, David R.S. Haslam, Mohit Bhandari, Terrence Sullivan, Deborah J. Cook, Stephen D. Walter, Maureen Meade, Humaira Khan, Neera Bhatnagar and Gordon H. Guyatt