Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 14, 2000
CHAC opposes private health care
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
The Catholic Health Association of Canada is urging Prime Minister Jean Chretien to take action to protect and expand public health care.
This includes federal action to stop the privatization of health care in Alberta.
In a Feb. 9 letter to Chretien, the CHAC says Canada's system of public health care is showing signs of unravelling. It urges the prime minister to put more money into the system to help stabilize and expand it.
The CHAC says another $1.5 billion in the 2000 budget with a commitment to reinvest this amount annually would represent an important first step toward achieving these goals.
Of particular concern to the CHAC is the Alberta government's plan to contract out hospital services, including services now publicly insured, to private, for-profit companies.
"This is much more than simply looking for ways to deal with waiting lists and with federal funding cuts," CHAC president Richard Haughian said.
"This is a move designed to both legitimize and prepare for a parallel private health care system with all the increased costs and unequal access which will ensue if the Alberta government succeeds."
The letter urges the prime minister to take action to stop privatized health care in Alberta, beginning with the rescinding of the working understanding reached in 1996 by the Alberta and the federal governments.
That agreement allows physicians to remain in the public system while offering additional services not publicly insured for which patients must pay directly, either from their own pocket or through private care insurance.
"The 'Alberta Approach' defined in the working understanding violates the spirit and the intent of the Canada Health Act," the letter says.
It also suggests federal health care transfers be channelled through a National Health Care Fund to ensure accountability and transparency.
"Increased cost-sharing by the federal government will improve access to comprehensive services, reduce waiting lists and strengthen the ability of the federal government to enforce the Canada Health Act," CHAC's letter says.
"Public funds should not be used in for-profit delivery of health care services."
"Medicare represents what's best about Canada - a set of values and beliefs in which the notion of the common good is central," says CHAC's chairperson Mary Pat Skene.
"All governments have the duty to ensure that medicare is not only preserved but also expanded and that it remains a publicly funded system governed by the principles of the Canada Health Act."
CHAC is also urging Ottawa to expand medicare to include home and community care.