It was with some surprise and a little anger that I listened to a news report that Alberta’s Premier Jason Kenney was being lobbied to help build a $200-million private surgical hospital in Edmonton. It would be the largest private-for-profit contracted surgical facility in the province’s history.
I know we are all preoccupied and concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the circumstances, one would not expect to hear of a proposal for a private-for-profit hospital. One thing we have learned from the COVID-19 health crisis is that private health-care has failed us miserably — not only in this country but in the United States in particular, and around the world.
Private, for-profit driven health care is concerned primarily about one thing – profit. And profit is made by paying low wages, hiring too few and poorly trained workers, cutting corners, and often not following regulations. The group proposing the plan for the private-for-profit Edmonton hospital, which includes orthopedic surgeons, says it will hire non-unionized workers.
If this proposal goes ahead it will be the beginning of the end of our Medicare system. It must not be allowed. Medicare is one of the great achievements of Canada thanks in part to Tommy Douglas who is seen by Canadians as the founder of Medicare.
The challenge now during the COVID-19 crisis is to enhance Medicare and complete Tommy’s original vision for medicare. We must expand medicare into pharmacare, dental care, home care, community health and tackle head on the social determinants of health such as poverty and food insecurity.
Let’s not let profit and greed defeat Medicare. It’s time to stop the privatization of health care.