Friends of Medicare is concerned about a full-page advertisement placed in the Edmonton Journal on May 8, 2013. The ad appears in a form meant to look like a news column on page A7.
"The Copeman Healthcare Centre's advertisement in the Edmonton Journal , misleadingly presented as news article, is a clear indication that the proponents of private, for-profit clinics are actively attempting to normalize the idea of American-style health care in Canada," said Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare.
For years now, promoters of for-profit health care have been doing their best to convince the general public that the only way to improve Canada's health care system is to open it to private, for-profit interests. There is some suggestion that private medical facilities may provide faster access to those who pay and that those who can afford it should be able to pay for private health care.
"In Alberta, private facilities, and even some public facilities, do offer enhanced services. If enhanced services are of higher quality and private facilities allow people who can pay for enhanced services to have quicker access, then access and quality of care received will be based on the patient's ability to pay. The Copeman clinic's very existence shows that we already have two-tiered health care in Alberta," stated Azocar. "The 'queue jumping' evidence that came out of the Preferential Access inquiry shows that such activities are already present in our system."
"Canadians and Albertans know that if we lose our public health care system, most people would not be able to afford health care," said Azocar. "Allowing for-profit clinics to operate threatens the equality of access to medical services. They distort the public system. They don't save money; they don't fix any problems that the public system itself can't fix; and they introduce a whole world of new problems. You cannot turn doctors into medical entrepreneurs with a completely different set of incentives, and expect the system to work the same way," said Azocar.
"We want to see an expansion and improvement of public health care, but by draining our system of our already-scarce human resources we are only making wait times and access to services worse. Friends of Medicare is calling on the government, the Minister of Health, and Alberta Health Services to focus on the needs of all Albertans instead of allowing for the growth of a parallel private, American-style health care system where well-off patients can buy their way to the front of the queue."
Sandra Azocar, Executive Director