Private CAT scan backers tied to Campbell Liberals, HEU charges

News release

Watchdog needed to monitor private health corporations

Investors in a private company that’s been given the green light by the Campbell government to sell so-called medically unnecessary CAT scans to the public has strong financial ties to the B.C. Liberals, an investigation by the Hospital Employees’ Union has found.

And the union is demanding that Victoria create an independent watchdog to monitor private health care companies that operate in B.C. to ensure the public interest is protected and that necessary health services are not provided on a for-profit basis.

Elections B.C. filings show that corporate investors in Canada Diagnostic Centres’ newly opened CAT scan facility in Vancouver donated more than $18,000 to the Campbell Liberals’ election machine.

“It’s shocking that backers of this private clinic invested heavily in the B.C. Liberals,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “It sets off warning bells about the way critical policy decisions are being made - policies that will put more money into the pockets of private, for-profit health care operators.”

The Campbell Liberals signaled in last week’s budget that they would shift more of the costs for health services to individuals and private insurers. At the same time many publicly delivered services are on the chopping block and many procedures have already been delisted from B.C.’s Medical Services Plan.

“Gordon Campbell is putting the interests of his corporate backers ahead of patients,” says Allnutt. “It’s charge card health care. This government is intent on creating a market for private, for-profit clinics by delisting services from public health insurance.”

“They can’t be trusted with public health care,” says Allnutt. “We urgently need an independent body in place to shine a light on the shadowy and complex web of private, for-profit health care companies that are poised to profit from people’s illness.”

A major investor in Western Canada MRI is GWIL Industries Inc., which donated $18,300 to B.C.Liberal coffers between 1998 and 2001. Western Canada MRI — now doing business as Canada Diagnostic Centres — operates the Vancouver facility.

-30- Contact: Mike Old, communications officer, 604-456-7039 (direct); 604-828 6771 (cell)