True leaders learn from the mistakes of others - our friends to the East of Alberta, are heading down the slippery slope of privatization.
Executive Director Sandra Azocar travelled to Saskatchewan to share our experiences with health care privatization as the Saskatchewan Party Government prepares to privatize MRI services.
Health care privatization, MRIs discussed at town hall
REGINA — 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.
Jointly hosted by the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the evening explored the challenges facing Saskatchewan’s health care system, including funding, privatization and the controversial pay-for-use MRI legislation.
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.
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.
Sandra Azocar knows full well of Alberta’s push for private clinics.
From Friends of Medicare, which protects and promotes health care in Canada, Azocar spoke about Alberta’s experience with privatization.
As she spoke, many jaws dropped.
She claims the former Progressive Conservative government turned the public health care system into a “corporate culture.
“Some of the changes that were made (in Alberta) are some of the changes (the Wall government) is trying to put into play,” Azocar said.
In 1993, Alberta became the first province to allow private for profit MRIs when the Western Canada MRI Center opened in Calgary and the Magnetic Resource Center opened in Edmonton. Both were opened to help alleviate wait times.
Azocar says Saskatchewan appears on the verge of following in similar footsteps.
“I think what Premier Brad Wall and Health Minister Dustin Duncan claim is that they’re trying to address through the privatization of MRI scans in Saskatchewan is wait times,” Azocar said. “The reality is that there are far more effective ways of doing it.”
From the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Simon Enoch says there has been “pronounced acceleration” in the number and type of privatizations under the Saskatchewan Party’s governance. This, he claims, despite multiple promises from Wall that his party doesn’t harbour a privatization agenda.
Enoch also told the crowd that P3s will burden the provincial economy with future debt. He referred to it as a “debt time bomb” with an unknown detonation date.