During National Medicare Week the National Union is urging governments to look to the public system to deliver solutions to wait-time issues and health care shortages.
Ottawa (18 Nov. 2008) - The Canadian Health Coalition and health coalitions across the country are marking November 17-22 as National Medicare Week. The National Union of Public and General Employees is supporting the week and calling for governments to make a greater commitment to publicly funded, delivered and administered health care.
The National Union has been emphasizing it's program of 10 steps to faster - better care. It proposes that governments look to the public system to deliver solutions to wait-time issues and health care worker shortages rather than turn to privatization and corporate care.
In it's publication Top Priority: Short Wait Times  the union explains that:
One thing about our search for a solution is plain: the reforms we want and need must, and can, be done within the system - within the public system.
We don’t need a fresh round of ideological debate about for-profit health care. We made up our minds about that long ago and nothing has changed.
The consensus view of Canadians, confirmed over and over in all the research studies, is that for-profit care will not deliver better, faster, cheaper or more health care services.
And, to make matters worse, we know for-profit care requires abandoning the values of caring for and about one another that led us to establish Medicare in the first place. On this issue Canadians have been very clear: Medicare is, and must remain, a moral enterprise. It must never become a mere business venture.
Throughout the week the Canadian Health Coalition will be drawing attention to ongoing violations of the Canada Health Act (CHA) which represent a threat to the health of Canadians and their pocketbooks. There has been a national explosion of private, for-profit health facilities across Canada. This privatization has CHA implications when providers of such services charge patients for insured health services and/or allow them to jump the queue.
Health coalitions across Canada will be contacting their Provincial Minister of Health, and writing the Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, who has unique statutory duties with respect to overseeing Medicare, demanding an immediate response to documented CHA violations in the new report: Eroding Public Medicare: Lessons and Consequences of For-Profit Health Care Across Canada .
The new report found that at for-profit clinics, patients are charged extraordinary costs, queue jumping is offered for cash payments, and patients are exploited through the selling of unnecessary tests and procedures. The report shows that where for-profit clinics expand, health human resources are drained from the public system and wait times are lengthened, rather than shortened, as doctors, nurses and other health professionals leave the public system.
“Canadians would rather see improvements that make public health care better for everyone, than the expansion of private, for-profit health care that benefits only a few,” said Kathleen Connors, Canadian Health Coalition Chairperson.
The Canadian Health Coalition is a non-partisan citizens’ organization dedicated to the preservation and improvement of Medicare. Their membership is comprised of national organizations representing nurses, health care workers, seniors, churches, anti-poverty, women and trade unions, as well as affiliated coalitions in 9 provinces and one territory. NUPGE