The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Canada condemns recent attacks on public healthcare and calls its members and friends to join public healthcare coalitions to defend and expand healthcare so it is fully public and universal.
Canada’s collapsing public healthcare repeatedly made cross-Canada news media during the summer of 2022 as emergency rooms closed and exhausted healthcare workers told the public that the system was stretched to the limit. Across the country there are record job vacancies for healthcare workers, record wait times for hospital beds and surgeries and more and more lives are being lost as corners are cut and health services become increasingly inaccessible.
The cause of the crisis is systematic under-funding and creeping privatization aided by successive federal governments that refuse to enforce the Canada Health Act. Austerity and privatization are the cause and now several provincial governments are preparing to use the crisis in order to launch another round of deep privatization. This is happening despite legal rulings such as the recent BC Court of Appeal decision in the Dr. Brian Day case, which found that extra billing and duplicative private insurance for medical necessary procedures violate the principle that patients must be prioritized based on medical need and not ability to pay.
For decades Canadians have ranked public healthcare as one of the highest priorities in each federal and provincial election since it was established, first in Saskatchewan and then across the country, in the 1960s. However, ever since Medicare was established capitalist interests in Canada have fought to undermine it. The establishment of private clinics in Alberta, to give special medical care for those who could afford to jump the cue in the public system, led the federal government in 1984 to pass the Canada Health Act, which established the five principles of universality, comprehensive coverage, portability, accessibility and public administration. Provinces who failed to follow these five principles would have their federal transfer reduced by a comparable amount equal to the establishment of private health-care facilities. Unfortunately, the current federal government, following in the footsteps of those governments before it, refuse to enforce the Act giving a green light to provincial governments in the present day to attack public healthcare.
In Ontario, the Ford government told the media that defenders of public Medicare were lying in the lead up to the June election when health coalitions tried to warn that more hospital services were going to be privatized. But it was the government’s lies that were exposed in August when plans to outsource surgeries to private clinics were announced and the health minister refused to rule out more privatization. This was followed quickly by Bill 7 which provides new power to push elderly and chronic care patients out of hospitals and into mostly private long-term care beds without their consent. The Ford government has already expanded private long-term care after private homes were shown to produce disproportionate death during the pandemic. They have also set out to privatize what is left of public homecare and the delivery of COVID vaccinations and testing, which other provinces have done as well.
While the Premiers are rightfully asking for adequate funding from the federal government, they are implementing further privatization. In the midst of the summer’s crisis New Brunswick’s Premier Blaine Higgs said that he wouldn’t rule out more private-sector delivery of health services and that he would “leave the door open” after a meeting with the Conservative Premiers of Nova Scotia, PEI and Ontario. There appears to be a coordinated offensive against public healthcare involving several governments. We need to rise up to defeat these efforts and launch a counter offensive to expand Medicare to include long-term care, pharmacare, dental, vision and mental health care.
The Communist Party of Canada demands federal and provincial governments immediately increase funding, stop breaking the law and enforce the Canada Health Act, provide adequate staffing, raise wages, pensions and provide decent working conditions for healthcare workers, legislate 14 employer-paid sick days for all workers and bring in minimum cross-Canada standards of care for all. We need to continue the fight of Dr. Norman Bethune who demanded an end to private healthcare in Canada more than eighty years ago: “Let us take the profit, the private economic profit, out of medicine, and purify our profession of rapacious individualism. Let us make it disgraceful to enrich ourselves at the expense of the miseries of our fellow men.”
Central Committee, Communist Party of Canada
October 16, 2022