TORONTO, July 31, 2007 – Ontario nurses reject the Canadian Medical Association’s(CMA) proposal, made yesterday in Charlottetown, for a two-tier health-care system.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) says allowing doctors to set up a private practice and continue to see patients in the publicly funded system is a recipe for disaster and will leave most Canadians without the care they require. “It won’t work and the evidence is clear about that,” says RNAO president Mary Ferguson-Paré.
RNAO says there are dozens of studies that show countries with parallel, private hospital systems have larger and longer public wait lists than those with a single-payer system. Parallel systems also 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.
“The CMA is showing its true colours. Doctors elected Brian Day, the owner of the largest private hospital in Canada, as president of the association, and now the CMA wants to steer our publicly funded system away from the Canadians they are supposed to care for. It’s obvious the Emperor has no clothes,” says RNAO Executive Director Doris Grinspun.
“The CMA’s proposal undermines a central principle of our health-care system - namely that it exists for everyone,” adds Ferguson-Paré. “Ontario nurses will redouble our efforts to stand up and ensure that it does because we know the public is with us.”
“We are proud to work within a system that believes access to health care is a universal human right. Many innovative changes that are reducing wait times for surgeries and improving access to health-care services are already in progress,” says Grinspun, pointing to an example in Alberta, where public clinics have reduced hip and knee replacement wait times from the average of 47 weeks to 4.7 weeks. “These kinds of innovations are geared to all Canadians, not simply those who can afford it,” she says, adding that there is nothing in the Canada Health Act that prohibits innovation.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses wherever they practise in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.