Time to reject for-profit health care
Canada is at an important crossroads when it comes to how we deliver health care.
We all know that our system is under incredible strain. We hear about the problems constantly in the news. More importantly, we all know someone or have personally experienced long waits and other challenges to accessing care.
Some Conservative premiers – including our own here in Manitoba – have been quick to pounce on the idea that privatization is the solution to our health-care woes. But it is at our peril, not theirs, that this advice would be accepted.
Privatization is an old idea, but not a good one. There are other ways to repair health delivery in Canada.
The fact that for-profit long-term care facilities had worse health outcomes and higher mortality rates during the pandemic is well documented. At the outset of the pandemic, two of the biggest for-profit long-term care companies in Canada, Chartwell and Revera, had former Conservative premiers in positions of leadership.
The federal government should once again contribute its fair share to health-care funding. Its contribution has fallen from 50 per cent to about 22 per cent since the beginning of medicare.
Provinces should accept some accountability for how this money is spent. Premiers such as Heather Stefanson, who demand more health funds from Ottawa only to turn around and offer $450 million in education tax rebates, betray a lack of seriousness about investing properly in fixing our health system.
Here in northeast Winnipeg – where the MLA for Radisson, James Teitsma, had been the legislative assistant to the health minister and now sits at the cabinet table – we have seen our health services cut as the province reduces its revenues. The Concordia ER, Transcona’s Community IV program and CancerCare Manitoba’s out-patient clinic at Concordia hospital are just some examples of services lost to our community since the Pallister/Stefanson hit squad got to work.
Manitoba’s government has made a mess of collective bargaining in this province while racking up huge bills for private-agency nurses. Investing the money used to pay exorbitant agency fees to improve working conditions in the public sector would be a good start on attracting health-care professionals back onto the payroll of our hospitals.
Prudent, effective delivery of health services is possible in the public sphere, but it takes people in government who believe in public services in the first place.
Before accepting that privatization is the answer on the advice of people who do not, we owe it to ourselves to ask how that hack and slash approach has been working for us so far, and who stands to benefit from further privatization.
Elmwood-Transcona constituency report
Daniel Blaikie is the NDP MP for Elmwood-Transcona.