TORONTO, Apr. 16, 2014 – Recent remarks by Ontario’s Minister of Health indicating unqualified support for medical tourism have prompted five top health organizations to urge Premier Kathleen Wynne to step in and end the practice of allowing hospitals to solicit patients from other countries.
According to recent media reports, University Health Network, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Mount Sinai and the Hospital for Sick Children have all provided care on a for-profit basis, to people from outside Canada. This has prompted the five organizations - the Association of Ontario Health Centres, the Association of Ontario Midwives, Canadian Doctors for Medicare, the Medical Reform Group and the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) - to write a letter to Premier Wynne. The letter asks the Premier to protect the province’s publicly funded health-care system by closing the door on the practice of medical tourism and focusing on meeting people’s care needs, not on their ability to pay.
In the letter , the groups warn that allowing hospitals to go shopping for patients in a bid to raise revenue will redirect already stretched resources and jeopardize the province’s ability to provide care for Ontarians. “The public wants, and needs, a clear signal from (the provincial government) that it is not ‘open season’ on our operating rooms and clinical facilities,” the letter states. “Premier, by taking a hands-off approach when public hospitals announce plans to offer fee-based medical services to foreign patients, Ontario risks stepping onto a slippery slope toward a two-tier system of health care, where a parallel for-profit system provides care to those who can afford to pay.”