Time to look at the evidence

Left to right: Prof. Karen Palmer, Dr. Saad Ahmed, and Elder Tom Oleman (Stlatlimx Nation)

Dr. Saad Ahmed, a board member of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, framed the townhall in the context of a broader national debate about the role of private health care. 

As privatization schemes are rolled out in Canadian provinces like Quebec, Ontario, and Alberta, the Canadian Medical Association has embarked on a national consultation process to revise its position on private health care. The consultation process includes sponsoring a series of town halls hosted by the Globe and Mail, including an event in Vancouver on November 23rd. 

According to Dr. Ahmed, framing a consultation as seeking the right balance of public and private health care is mistaken and an attempt to normalize profit-driven private services in our health care system. Further, it ignores the large body of evidence both domestically and internationally that clearly shows privatization does not work.

Australia introduced two-tiered health care in 1997 in an attempt to improve wait times for the public system. It actually made wait times worse in the public system. The United Kingdom introduced investor-owned private surgery centres in the early 2000s to likewise cut wait times. Instead, itt led to worse mortality and morbidity in the public system. Ontario has had non-profit and for-profit long term care homes for decades now. A study in the CMA’s own medical journal showed investor-owned for profit long-term care homes having double the rate of mortality during COVID-19 than non-profit ones.