Push to privatize behind hospital choice, says Health Coalition

The push to locate a new hospital between Courtenay and Campbell River is an example of the privatization of health care, warns one of the guest speakers on the panel lined up for a November 16 Town Hall meeting at the Florence Filberg Centre.

Richard Hagensen of Campbell River says ordinary people from both communities have come together to fight the proposal, after being shocked by the Vancouver Island Health Authoritys -so-called consultation" about whether to have one regional hospital or to up-grade both the Campbell River Hospital and St. Josephs in Comox.

-Many meetings later and 8,000 signatures on a petition favouring two hospitals, VIHAs decision to put one hospital on Dove Creek made the sponsors of this Town Hall see that we need to protect and keep two public hospitals, not have one P3 or private one," said Hagensen.

Following Hagensen, one of Canadas top verbal warriors in the fight to save Medicare, Michael McBane, will take to the podium.

National coordinator of the Canadian Health Coalition, which opposes both health care privatization and the private financing of health care, McBane is warning that an increase in private care will undermine the public system, not save it.

"There is a lot of money to be made by breaking Medicare," says McBane. -The end game is that people with money no longer want to pay the taxes required to provide quality health care for everybody. They want to shift the cost from government to patients, employers, and third-party payers. Once that is done, the competitive advantage of Canada's single-payer public health care system will be lost."

According to McBane, -Canadas public health care system is facing a ‘perfect storm.   The Harper government appears to want to cut and run from their health care responsibilities and to look the other way as a few rich provinces, including B.C., establish a parallel health care system for those with money.

-Medicare Works and it is up to ordinary Canadians to pressure their politicians to protect and improve it for everyone."

Author of Ill-Health Canada: Putting Food and Drug Company Profits Ahead of Safety, McBane has spent two decades working on issues relating to medicare, privatization, food and drug safety, the precautionary principle and international trade.

Economist Guy Caron, healthcare campaigner for the Council of Canadians and author of Crossing the Line: A Citizens Inquiry on Canada-U.S. Relations, will also speak at the meeting.

After the speakers, the mikes will be opened up to members of the public to participate in the Town Hall, with feedback from the expert panel.

-As frustrating as it is to have to keep fighting these battles, were it not for the successful battles we have already fought, U.S. two-tier health care would be a fait accompli here," said Gwyn Frayne, one of the event organizers.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, November 16 in the Rotary Hall of the Florence Filberg Centre, co-sponsored by the Council of Canadians and the Citizens for Quality Health Care.

For more information, contact Gwyn Frayne at  338-6265 or 250 286-3019.