Members vigilant, say fight against private health care has just begun
EDMONTON—Today (Thursday, Sept. 10) the B.C. Supreme Court ruled in favour of Canadians and made history by striking down the decade-long crusade of one rich CEO to introduce two-tiered health care to Canada.
After being found guilty of over-charging patients almost half a million dollars in a 30-day period, Dr. Brian Day, CEO of Cambie Surgeries Corporation, launched a legal attack against British Columbia. Day tried to open the door for more providers to do the same, but today the court stopped him.
“One thing is clear: Canadians want equal access to quality care for all community members,” says Bonnie Gostola, vice-president at the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), which represents 95,000 Albertans, including more than 58,000 in health care. “But they’re afraid not everyone’s listening, especially in Alberta, where the UCP government is pushing an aggressive health-care privatization agenda.”
Gostola continued: “Between plans to contract out hospital services and expand corporate operation of continuing-care homes, the UCP are launching a full-frontal attack on our public care system.”
Today’s decision reinforces several crucial provisions in the Canada Health Act, such as preventing politicians from subsidizing private profits by draining the public treasury for medically necessary procedures. Another key provision ensures that everyone – not just wealthy patients and clients – can access the quality health-care services they need.
“Private providers still have a lot of wiggle room, though,” says Gostola. “They aren’t held to the same standards of transparency and accountability as public providers. What’s more, they’re notorious for driving down wages and working conditions to pad their pockets.”
On average, private continuing-care homes in Alberta provide an hour less care per resident than the public system does. They do so by skimming all the profit they can through short-staffing and under-serving vulnerable people. Gostola says other private health-care providers, such as surgical clinics or hospital food suppliers, likely do the same.
“Alberta Health Services (AHS) members have tabled collective-agreement language that could stop the province’s health authority from privatizing the services they provide. Members are also prepared to take strike action to win these protections if necessary. Just like we believe in quality care for all, we believe in quality jobs for all, and we’re going to keep fighting for both.”
Bonnie Gostola is available for interviews. For more information, contact Terry Inigo-Jones, communications officer, 403-831-4394.