Policy and Political Action

Policy & Political Action

Action Alert RNAO Urges Members to Write Prime Minister Harper to Defend Medicare for all Canadians

On July 30, 2007, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) released a policy statement calling upon the Canadian government to allow physicians to practice simultaneously in both public and private systems. CMA asserts that contracting out publicly funded health-care services to the private sector would improve access to services and reduce wait times. Under the rhetoric of "modernizing Medicare and choice," CMA is advocating for a parallel health-care system despite evidence which demonstrates that it would decrease access to health-care services by siphoning off health-care professionals.

Background

RNAO opposes CMA's renewed call for two-tier health-care system in Canada

On July 30, 2007, the Canadian Medical Association released a policy statement calling upon the Canadian government to allow physicians to practice simultaneously in both public and private systems. In the statement, titled It's Still About Access! Medicare Plus, CMA asserts that contracting out publicly funded health-care services to the private sector would improve access to services and reduce wait times.

CMA president Colin McMillan denied that physicians are looking for a U.S.-style private, for-profit system, citing examples of European models that blend the two systems instead.

Background on Why the CMA's Position is a Threat to Medicare

Research has shown that OECD countries with parallel private hospital systems have larger and longer public wait lists than countries with a single-payer system.  A UK study found this result also held for regions as it held for countries.   The more care provided in the private sector in a given region, the longer the wait times for public hospital patients . Parallel private systems  "cherry pick" patients who are healthier, younger or have conditions that are cheaper to treat, while leaving more complicated cases to a public system with fewer health-care professionals.  Additionally, parallel private systems do not increase the number of health-care practitioners; rather, practitioners are split into two systems. This, in turn, creates an incentive for doctors to lengthen waiting lists in the public system.  

While Dr. McMillan may deny that physicians are looking to American models of health care, the reality is that Canada is a party to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Given that it is still unclear whether for-profit health services will bring all of the Canadian health-care system into the reach of Canada's trade agreements, it is imperative that the current single payer model be protected.

What are Other Options to Improve Access to Health Services?

Creative ways to strengthen Canada’s publicly funded, not-for-profit health-care system and improve access to care are available. Check out:

Action Requested

Please write to Prime Minister Harper urging him to oppose a two-tier health-care system in Canada. You can use the letter below or create one of your own. Be sure to include your name at the end: 

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