TORONTO, August 22, 2007 – As Dr. Brian Day begins his official duties as president of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), Canada’s doctors should remind him to use the evidence, the ingenuity and the capacity that already exists within our publicly funded health-care system to deliver effective and efficient care.
Dr. Day made his vision clear in his inaugural speech to members of the CMA at their annual convention in Vancouver on Wednesday. Among his ideas: introducing private insurance, introducing a market model for hospital funding, and gutting the Canada Health Act. “Dr. Day’s vision is a health-care system that favours for-profit interests and two-tier health care and it will lead to the destruction of Medicare,” says Mary Ferguson-Paré, president of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO).
RNAO says these ideas fly in the face of overwhelming evidence. For example, the British Medical Association has criticized the UK scheme that introduced market model funding for hospitals. Doctors found this system led to increased administrative costs and put services that were unprofitable, such as children’s services at risk of being cancelled.
RNAO says another troubling recommendation spelled out by Dr. Day and the CMA
is the introduction of private insurance. “The minute you introduce private insurance into our system, you create two lines of patients. And the results are obvious. Those in the first line pay for their care using their Visa card while the majority who can not afford it wait in the second line. This is two-tier pure and simple,” says RNAO executive director Doris Grinspun.
Ferguson-Paré says Dr. Day’s suggestion that the Canada Health Act needs be “modernized” and “revised” is smoke and mirrors because his approach would likely violate a sacred principle of Tommy Douglas’ Medicare system: that health care is a human right for every Canadian.
“Dr. Day, who owns a private hospital, likes to insist that he believes in universal health care, but he has no credibility given his insistence on two-tier solutions,” adds Ferguson-Paré.
“We call on individual doctors across the country to make it clear that Dr. Day does not represent them. Further, we call on the federal and provincial governments to reject, once again, Dr. Day and the CMA’s ideas,” says Grinspun. “We all know what havoc the private insurance system has wreaked on the health-care system in the United States. Clearly, voters in Canada do not want to go down this road. All along, we have said that the CMA is taking the wrong path and is seriously compromising the public’s trust of doctors by betraying their values,” adds Grinspun.
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.