Strong opinions on the future of public health care

To my surprise the Letters to the Editor section of the Saturday, September 24th edition of the Vancouver Sun shared the views of some strong proponents to Canada’s public health care system. The letters are about the B.C. Supreme court case, opened on September 6th, where Dr. Brian Day wants to strike down the law that prohibits extra billing and user fees by doctors which would lead to a two-tier American style system. He claims these rules violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Others disagree.

The following is a letter sent in from Powell River.

I read Ian Mulgrew’s column on the spectre of a two-tier, pay-for-care system and I would advise Canadians not go down that road. 

I am familiar with the two-tier system in Ireland, and it was one of the main reasons to return to Canada for the second time in 1990.

I had private health insurance in Ireland through my work, which I paid part of weekly. 

If one had to go for surgery in Ireland, a person who could afford to pay or had private insurance got surgery in a matter of months, and those who did not had to wait a couple of years. The wait time has now gone up to three to four years for the poor. They have been left behind and the same thing will happen here.

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Colleen Fuller defender of public health care

Colleen Fuller is a health policy consultant, author, and a research associate with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – BC Office. Much of her work focuses on the impact of privatization on universal access to health services. She was interviewed by the Vancouver Sun on September 6th, the opening day of the Dr. Brian Day vs. B.C. Government court case.

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Protecting our health care system

Today is the first day of a crucial court battle. The Council of Canadians joined others on the steps of the BC Supreme Court in downtown Vancouver in protesting Dr. Brian Day’s attempt at dismantling universal medicare in Canada. Others included the BC Health Coalition and Canadian Doctors for Medicare (intervenors in the court case), CUPE and the Raging Grannies.


Raging Grannies singing in support of public health care.

Raging Grannies singing in support of public health care.

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Stop Dr. Profit! Public Healthcare Under Threat

When: Tuesday, Sept. 6th at 9:00 am

Where: BC Supreme Courts, Vancouver

Corner of Nelson & Hornby (meeting point)

Pack the courts, defend public healthcare!

Dr. Brian Day will be attempting to help dismantle the public healthcare system at the BC Supreme Court with a constitutional challenge aimed at allowing for-profit delivery of medically necessary services. Dr. Day, better known as Dr. Profit, will be making his case starting September 6th. We are asking people to join us to defend the principles of universal, accessible and publicly funded health services that support all members of our community, not only those who can afford to pay for-profit fees.

Dr. Day owns the Cambie Surgery Centre in Vancouver, a for-profit clinic. The applications to the court claims that government regulations that place limitations on private for-profit medical services are in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. A court decision supporting the claim could open the doors to privatized healthcare system with private insurance companies and market based pricing for medical services. Many people are familiar with this model burdening residents in the US with $10,000-20,000 for annual insurance or in some cases for single procedures.

Wait times are increased in the public system by for-profit clinics as doctors and other resources are encouraged to work outside the public system. Ultimately this puts pressure on privatizing the public system that is the envy of those living in the US with only a private option. Let’s not let it happen.

Greed, being the primary motivation of for-profit clinics, leads to reduced safety, poorer quality of care and the “cherry-picking” of patients with low risk conditions or with high incomes. Meanwhile an audit conducted by the BC Government in 2012 found that in one month Dr. Day’s clinic had illegally billed patients for nearly $500,000. We can only imagine what else these clinics will do to maximize their bottom line.

The priority of healthcare providers should be people’s health, and providing services to everyone. The priority should not be to profit, as is the case with Dr. Day’s clinic. Join us outside the BC Supreme Court and inside the hearing to show your support for public healthcare and help us STOP DR. PROFIT!

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Remembering Mel Hurtig

Mel Hurtig loved this country more than anyone I ever met. He founded the Council of Canadians along with many dedicated Canadians to fight for a better Canada and a better world. We mourn his passing. — Maude Barlow

Photo: Council of Canadians founder, Mel Hurtig, and National Chairperson,
Maude Barlow.

I’m writing you with a heavy heart. On August 3rd, our friend and mentor, Mel Hurtig, passed away peacefully at the age of 84.

Mel founded the Council of Canadians, along with many dedicated Canadians, to fight for a better Canada and a better world. Thirty-one years later, his values and vision still resonate throughout the important work of the Council of Canadians.

Mel’s family issued this lovely statement:

Canadians knew dad as our country’s consummate patriot. He was a bookseller, publisher, and a politician, an author and an activist. In every chapter of his life, dad’s cause was Canada and his commitment was unconditional.

Dad’s love of country was exceeded only by his devotion to his family and friends. To us, he was an extraordinary father; to so many others, he was an irreplaceable companion, colleague, and compatriot.

We will share our plans to celebrate dad’s life in due course. Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to the Council of Canadians – or to the political party of your choice.

Barbara, Jane, Gillian, and Leslie Hurtig

An online memorial page has been set up where you can make a donation to celebrate Mel’s life and legacy. You can also add your personal condolences, which we will send to his family.

You can also call the Council of Canadians at 1-800-387-7177, or mail in your gift and condolences to 300-251 Bank Street, Ottawa, ON K2P 1X3.

Mel not only started this amazing organization, he has left a legacy that continues to inspire the fight for a better Canada.

Please join me in remembering and celebrating our friend, Mel Hurtig.

With thanks and hope,

Maude Barlow
National Chairperson

Donate now

The Council of Canadians does not accept corporate donations or government funding. We are an independent citizens’ advocacy group. That means we rely of the generosity of individuals like you to bring about the better Canada we know is possible.

Other ways to donate:

Prefer to donate by phone?
Call us toll-free at 1-800-387-7177 (Monday-Friday, 9-5 ET)

Prefer to donate by mail?
Send your cheque payable to “The Council of Canadians”:
The Council of Canadians
300-251 Bank Street
Ottawa, ON, K2P 1X3

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