Privatization of care at heart of issue

Ottawa – “Canadians have a reasonable expectation to receive health care in a timely manner,” says Paul Moist, national president of Canada’s largest union the Canadian Union of Public Employees – CUPE. “They also have a reasonable expectation that this happen by working with our public health care system – not against it,” he added.

The Federal, Provincial and Territorial Health Ministers are meeting in Toronto this week to discuss wait times. “Prime Minister Harper must drop the political games around wait times and commit to an integrated team approach in providing health care services to Canadians,” said Moist.

The final report of Dr. Brian Postl, Federal Wait Times Advisor, advocated many key recommendations that favour strengthening the public system. Dr. Postl recognized the need for a health human resource strategy and team based care as well as wait time coordinators and patient advocates.

“While many provinces are making headway with innovative public strategies, Harper is trying to score political points by backing Quebec’s new corporate model of wait time guarantees,” said Moist. Solutions to wait times are abundant in the public system and include: pooling doctors’ lists, using multidisciplinary teams, and maximizing hospital operating rooms and specialized clinics.

“A north Vancouver joint replacement clinic reduced waits from 50 weeks to under four through collaboration between five orthopaedic surgeons,” said Moist. Evidence from Canada and around the world demonstrates that, by contrast, private health care lengthens wait lists and drives up costs.

“Our health care system can meet the needs of the public, if we follow the advice of our own practitioners,” added Moist. The Sault Ste. Marie breast health centre reduced the wait from mammogram to diagnosis by 75 per cent by offering different tests on the same day.

“We have a health care guarantee – the Canada Health Act. Prime Minister Harper needs to enforce that guarantee and work with provinces on a public solution,” concluded Moist.