Privatization threatens public health care, Romanow warns

Posted on December 1, 2011 in Health Debates

Source: — Authors: – news/Canada/politics
Published On Wed Nov 30 2011.   Niamh Scallan, Staff Reporter

Creeping privatization and individualism in Canadian politics could destroy the country’s public health-care system, warns former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow.

In a speech Wednesday evening to the Canadian Health Coalition in Ottawa, Romanow decried a “palpable momentum toward individualism, decentralization and privatization” in Canada.

He gave the example of a “meanness of spirit . . . that somehow finds money to buy defibrillators for hockey arenas, but drags its feet about providing potable water to First Nations communities” — and said the government’s “so-called new thinking” misguidedly frames health care as a commodity rather than a right.

Citing a Nanos poll released last week, Romanow said a record 94 per cent of Canadians support public health care — and called on Canadians to continue their demand for a universal, public insurance model.

“Canadians view medicare as a moral enterprise not a business venture. We see it as a right of citizenship, not a privilege of status or wealth,” he said.

The former premier’s speech came less than a week after provincial and territorial health ministers met in Halifax for a two-day summit to discuss ways to reform Canada’s financially strained public health-care system.

The Conservative government has yet to announce whether it will renew the current funding deal — where Ottawa raises its health transfers by 6 per cent every year — when the 2004 Canada Health Accord expires in 2014.

In his speech, Romanow listed a number of issues he said remain central to the Canadian health-care reform debate — universal, public health care, a focus on total health-care costs, decreasing wait times for care, and preventing illness and disease among them.

“We need a more comprehensive strategy,” he said. “After all, we are not fighting to preserve a 1960s health-care system, we are fighting to build a modern and sustainable health-care system that meets today’s needs.”

Romanow added that current health-care delivery must be more fully integrated to more effectively and efficiently serve Canadians, especially seniors. He called for increased federal funding for community health centres across the country and a national home-care strategy so that more Canadians can be treated at home.

“Now, more than ever we need to embrace comprehensive policy solutions that tackle root causes instead of surface symptoms,” he said. “Now, more than ever, we need to engage and mobilize Canadians in the fight to secure and expand medicare.”

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