The Toronto Star
Mon 18 Aug 2008
An edited version of a letter to federal Health Minister Tony Clement from Wendy Fucile, president of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario:
We are writing to you regarding your upcoming remarks to the Canadian Medical Association's annual meeting. We urge you to use this important occasion as an opportunity to stand up for the country's publicly funded health- care system.
We represent registered nurses in Ontario and they are well aware of the deep and abiding attachment citizens of this country have for our health-care system and its guiding principle of universality.
They like it because of its basic fairness and because it makes good economic sense. However, medicare is under threat in this country. The current president of the CMA, Dr. Brian Day, is a vocal proponent of privatization of our publicly funded system and the owner of a for-profit surgical facility in Vancouver.
When CMA members gather in Montreal this week, Dr. Day will pass the mantle to Dr. Robert Ouellet, another physician who owns a network of for-profit diagnostic clinics.
We know many physicians across the country are opposed to privatization but the CMA continues to advocate for measures that would inevitably lead to more for-profit delivery in surgical centres, hospitals and clinics, and ultimately dismantle medicare.
Minister, on behalf of Ontario's nurses, we urge you and the Harper government to reject any measures that weaken medicare and facilitate two-tier health care.
To protect medicare, its principles and spirit, you must strongly enforce the Canada Health Act. We also urge you to uphold medicare by introducing policies that not only strengthen but expand our public health-care system.
Let's increase access by developing a national, publicly funded and controlled pharmacare program to cover the cost of essential drugs. Let's invest in health human resources, improved access to primary health care, continuing care, and true interdisciplinary work to solve wait times.
These are the solutions that will ensure our health-care system will be there for today and tomorrow's generations.