Campbell River chapter of Council of Canadians challenges Black Press support for private health care

May 25, 2015

David Black

The Council of Canadians Campbell River chapter is challenging the arguments made in a Black Press editorial in the Campbell River Mirror.

Black Press describes itself as, “Home to some of the oldest, most trusted community newspapers in North America. …As the largest independently owned newspaper company in Canada, with more than 150 titles in print and online, Black Press has operations in British Columbia, Alberta, Washington, Hawaii, California and Ohio.”

In a recent editorial, titled “It’s time to expect less from our governments”, they stated, “Lists and their parameters vary, but most rankings have Canadians inside the top 10 of the most heavily-taxed residents in the world. …We should. Despite wait times and frustrations, we can anecdotally be proud of our universal health care and education systems. Just don’t call it free. Health care and education spending rises every year, regardless of which party is in power in Ottawa or Victoria. …On average, provinces spend approximately 40 per cent of their total budgets on health care.”

They say an answer is to allow for more for-profit health care facilities. They write, “The theory here is those who can afford it can pay for it, taking themselves out of the public-waiting-list logjam, freeing up time in operating rooms for the rest of us. The concept seems sacrilegious to some, almost anti-Canadian, but it may provide relief we most certainly need. Forgive us, Tommy Douglas, but the way healthcare costs are spiraling, we need to find a way to keep some form of universal healthcare alive for future generations.”

Chapter activist Richard Hagensen has responded to this with a letter to the editor.

He writes, “Over the last few years, health care costs are not, as the Editorial says, ‘spiraling’ as there has been little change in health care allocations as a percentage of government budgets. Better and more timely access to doctors, specialists and needed medical procedures could be achieved by federal and provincial governments instantly if they prioritized public health care over such things as spending billions of our taxpayer dollars on political advertising, supporting unnecessary military action, public surveillance, and subsidizing big business.”

He counters the Black Press argument for more for-profit health care facilities by stating, “Taking vitally needed doctors and specialists out of the public health care system will actually cost the Canadian taxpayer much much more in the long run at a time when many Canadians can afford climbing private health care less and less. In addition, private medical companies obtain increased profits from doing the ‘easier’ health care procedures in a privatized model of health care and leaving the more complex health care operations to the public system.”

And Hagensen concludes by saying, “We truly can do without this kind of ‘smoke and mirrors’ reasoning, as displayed in your editorial, to justify privatization of health care. Expect during the coming months a push back against political parties, groups and individuals espousing public health care cutbacks and privatization. Canadians young and old are concerned enough about keeping our public health care system intact and expanding it that they will voice that increasingly loudly and, hopefully, will vote against politicians supporting the ongoing breakup of Medicare in Canada.”

To read the full letter by Hagensen, please click here.

For more on the Council of Canadians campaign to defend and expand public health care, click here.

Photo: David Black is the majority owner and Chairman of Black Press.

 

 

The full letter of Richard Hagensen
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Editorial does not reflect majority opinion
3
by Contributed – Campbell River Mirror
posted May 19, 2015 at 1:00 PM
I am writing this letter as I was extremely disturbed by your Black Press editorial (Campbell River Mirror May 1, 2015) entitled ‘Less will be the norm’. I have since discovered that this same editorial was published simultaneously in a number of Black Press local newspapers.

The anonymous writer of this editorial takes the stance that public health care is unaffordable and we should be supporting the expansion of private health care facilities. In my view, this statement does not reflect the viewpoint of a majority of Canadians.

Over the last few years, health care costs are not, as the Editorial says, “spiraling” as there has been little change in health care allocations as a percentage of government budgets. Better and more timely access to doctors, specialists and needed medical procedures could be achieved by federal and provincial governments instantly if they prioritized public health care over such things as spending billions of our taxpayer dollars on political advertising, supporting unnecessary military action, public surveillance, and subsidizing big business.

Some of the increasing costs of public health care can be chalked up to the increasing use of Public Private Partnerships in building hospitals and health care facilities – with billions of dollars being siphoned from the public health care budgets to enable huge medical corporations to reap excessive profits – all money that could have been used for improving and expanding our public health care programs and services.

Most Canadians of all political stripes still support universal public Medicare and do not want the for-profit health care system of the United States where getting needed medical care depends on how much money you have. As well, health care coalitions, health care unions, Canadians Doctors For Medicare and many other groups oppose privatization of health care. Time and again, Canadians have done the math, added up the figures and proved that privatizing health care will continue to weaken the public health care system. Taking vitally needed doctors and specialists out of the public health care system will actually cost the Canadian taxpayer much, much more in the long run at a time when many Canadians can afford climbing private health care less and less. In addition, private medical companies obtain increased profits from doing the “easier” health care procedures in a privatized model of health care and leaving the more complex health care operations to the public system.

Black Press has some less than comfortable bed fellows in taking the less is more stance. Promoting private health care facilities is more reflective of the opinions of Dr. Brian Day whose court case is trying to justify his and other medical corporations’ private for-profit health clinics. As well, the current federal government under Prime Minister Harper has not renewed the Health Accord. This will inevitably result in smaller medical transfer payments to the provinces and encourage more private medical care. In B.C., our provincial government and the Health Care Authorities it created some 15 years ago are proposing to contract out surgeries to private clinics rather than adequately funding operating rooms and hiring enough staff for hospitals to perform these surgeries.

We truly can do without this kind of “smoke and mirrors” reasoning, as displayed in your editorial, to justify privatization of health care. Expect during the coming months a pushback against political parties, groups and individuals espousing public health care cutbacks and privatization. Canadians young and old are concerned enough about keeping our public health care system intact and expanding it that they will voice that increasingly loudly and, hopefully, will vote against politicians supporting the ongoing breakup of Medicare in Canada.

Richard Hagensen

Council of Canadians

Campbell River Chapter

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