TORONTO, Aug. 20, 2008 – As Dr. Robert Ouellet assumes the presidency of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), registered nurses in Ontario say he should not ignore the many health-care professionals who disagree with his diagnosis that more private delivery is needed to meet the health-care needs of Canadians.
Members of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) urge the new CMA president to take a look at the evidence, the ingenuity and the capacity that already exists within the publicly funded health-care system to deliver effective and efficient care.
Dr. Ouellet outlined his vision in his inaugural speech to members of the CMA at their convention in Montreal on Wednesday. Dr. Ouellet, who owns a string of five private diagnostic clinics, is taking over the presidency from Dr. Brian Day, the owner of a for-profit surgical facility in Vancouver.
In his speech, Dr. Ouellet compares the health-care needs of Canadians to telephones. Citing an example of how competition was good for long distance rates, he argues introducing more private care into our health system will make it better. RNAO says the argument is off base because health isn’t a commodity, it’s a human right.
“Dr. Ouellet’s vision of increased competition through privatization is a continuation of his predecessor’s. It’s a vision that gives up on our current system and favours those who can afford to pay out of their pocket if they don’t want to wait,” says RNAO President Wendy Fucile. Fucile adds health-care services should be based on need not on ability to pay.
Another idea endorsed by the CMA is a market model for hospital funding couched as “patient-focused funding.” RNAO says this kind of competitive model already exists in the United Kingdom and has come under criticism from the British Medical Association, which questioned its efficiency both in terms of cost and quality of care.
“Much like his predecessor, Dr. Ouellet, would have us believe that the CMA board supports a universal health-care system, but neither physician has credibility on this point given their continued push for commercialization and privatization,” says Fucile.
RNAO is calling on all Canadians, including physicians, who disagree with the CMA’s views on privatization to make themselves heard. RNAO also wants federal health minister Tony Clement to reject any measures that weaken the country’s Medicare system. The association says the government should uphold and enforce the Canada Health Act and introduce policies that invest in health human resources, improve access to primary health care, and foster interdisciplinary teams to solve wait times.
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.
For more information, please contact:
Director of Communications
Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario
Phone: (416) 599-1925/1-800-268-7199 ext. 209
(647) 406-5605 (cell)