Funds should be better invested in Canada’s public health care system

It is extremely concerning that our provincial government is contracting up to 55,000 surgeries to a private surgery clinic

Re: Deal with private contractor could reduce surgery wait times – J.R. Rardon.

The above noted article was in the Aug. 26, Campbell River Mirror. Reading the headline I have to ask “but at what cost?”

It is extremely concerning that our provincial government is contracting up to 55,000 surgeries to a private, for profit, surgery clinic which is yet to be built. If this company is locating in Victoria they must have received assurance for long term commitments to enable them to locate there permanently. Surgical Centres Ltd. is “based” in Calgary, they have two private, for profit, surgery clinics in Calgary, two in B.C., two in Saskatchewan. Are the owners American?

Dr. Brendon Carr (president and CEO of Island Health) when asked at the Island Health Board meeting here in June stated that there will be a premium in cost for the surgeries at the private clinic. We know private, for profit, health care is more expensive. He said they have the information and would provide it, but when I wrote and asked what the difference in cost for the taxpayers between surgeries in public or private, for profit, operating rooms, Mr. Peters declined to answer the question.

Our provincial government is seeking to change the BC Health Act to permit patient stays of up to three nights in private, for profit, surgery clinics so their plan into the future is to embrace private, for profit, surgery clinics.

In the provincial government’s own report it states the reason why our public hospital operating rooms sit idle quite often is due to lack of funding. The government and Island Health think it is okay to contract out these surgeries because the surgeries are still being publicly funded but our taxpayer dollars will be spending more for the profit margin.

I pointed out to Dr. Carr that we have a shortage of doctors in Canada and he agreed. He said it would be the same doctors doing the surgeries in the private, for profit, surgery clinics. I asked how they can usurp our doctors into the private system without straining our public system more. He just said they will be watching it. That doesn’t bode well for our public operating rooms.

I fear that our provincial government is seriously undermining our position in defending the Dr. Brian Day court case on behalf of all British Columbians. At the very least it looks like a huge conflict of interest when they are seeking to contract an enormous number of surgeries to private clinics.

Our provincial and federal governments seem determined to starve the public health care system in favour of private, for profit, health care.

They have let the surgery wait lists increase substantially.

Our federal government refused to renegotiate the Canada Health Accord and brought in a new funding formula. They are telling us they are “increasing”  funding of the transfer payments to the provinces by three per cent, tied to the cost of living. Currently they are paying six per cent annually so this actually is a massive cut to the provinces for public health care in the amount of $36 billion over the next 10 years.

With the federal government’s cuts to health care funding, the share of federal CHT cash payments in provincial-territorial health spending will decrease substantially from 20.4 per cent in 2010-11 to less than 12 per cent over the next 25 years. This, according to the Parliamentary Budget Office, will bring the level of federal cash support for health care to historical lows. National Medicare was implemented across Canada by provinces and territories on the understanding that the federal government would contribute roughly 50 percent of the spending on Medicare.

Canadians are vehemently opposed to private health care whether it is using our public tax dollars or not. Canadians should not have to suffer and wait a long time for surgery. Funds would be far better invested in the public health care system which is being starved by our governments. It is very difficult for Canadians to see our medicare in serious jeopardy.

The Canadian Medical Assoc., Canadian Doctors for Medicare, Canadian Health Coalition, Council of Canadians, B.C. Health Coalition, HEU, CUPE, Citizens for Quality Health Care and many others are united to protect, strengthen and expand our public health care.

Please check out their websites and get more information. Please vote in the next two elections and vote for health care for the benefit of all Canadians.

Lois Jarvis

Citizens for Quality Health Care

Campbell River