Governments throughout Canada are exploiting the collapse of the general public well being care system to open the floodgates for its privatization. Nearly 4 a long time of brutal spending cuts by provincial and federal governments, adopted by three years of the disastrous profits-before-lives response to the COVID-19 pandemic, have left Medicare on life assist.
Ontario Tory Premier Doug Ford introduced on January 16 that for-profit clinics will completely be handed 50 % of surgical procedures. The checklist will initially embody minor surgical procedures in addition to diagnostic procedures, earlier than increasing to knee and hip alternative surgical procedures by 2024.
Ford claimed that his authorities was addressing Ontario’s colossal backlog of surgical procedures, which had ballooned to at least one million by mid-2022. This backlog has festered for years, however worsened after provincial governments throughout the nation dropped all pandemic well being measures final spring in response to the calls for of huge enterprise and its instrumentalization of the far-right “Freedom” Convoy to batter down public opposition.
Successive waves of the COVID-19 pandemic have mixed with different epidemic ailments like respiratory syncytial virus and the flu to create a “tripledemic,” overwhelming hospitals and pushing increasingly scheduled procedures onto ready lists.
Ford didn’t present a shred of proof that for-profit clinics would reverse the decline in public well being, as a result of no such proof exists. A fast look at the USA, the place the non-public sector performs the dominant position, exhibits that well being care run for revenue has been a complete disaster for the well being and lives of extraordinary working individuals.
Provincial and territorial governments from coast to coast are at the moment creating or discussing comparable privatization plans. They cynically declare that public well being care methods, which they’ve deliberately underfunded for a few years, merely can’t address the current stage of sickness and demise.
In Quebec, the hard-right “Quebec First” Coalition Avenir Québec authorities introduced a well being care “reform” final 12 months that may improve the variety of surgical procedures carried out in non-public clinics from 14 to twenty %.
British Columbia’s supposedly “progressive” New Democratic Social gathering authorities has handed $393 million price of contracts to personal clinics over the previous six years, primarily for much less complicated and extra worthwhile procedures.
Final spring, Alberta’s former United Conservative Social gathering Premier Jason Kenney introduced the Alberta Surgical Initiative, which can double the variety of medical procedures completed by non-public clinics, funnelling $133 million over three years to for-profit medication.
Ford and broad sections of the corporate-controlled media are making the absurd declare that his newest proposal doesn’t quantity to privatization as a result of the federal government will proceed to fund the well being providers. But it’s apparent that the elevated use of personal clinics will encourage an exodus of personnel to the non-public sector, allow non-public clinics to cost hefty ancillary charges, thereby additional lowering the out there funds for public sector well being care, and provoke an ever-expanding position for personal suppliers of well being care.
On the federal stage, Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who’s promoted in institution circles as Ford’s “progressive” and extra subtle counterpart, welcomed the Ford authorities’s initiative. Refusing to utter a single phrase of criticism, the Prime Minister applauded the privatization scheme as an “innovation” that might assist reduce the pressure on an overburdened well being care system. What Trudeau didn’t point out was that his authorities has completed simply as a lot to destroy Medicare as Doug Ford. Since taking workplace in 2015, the Liberals have saved Canada Well being Switch funds to the provinces far under inflation, inhabitants progress, and the wants of an growing old society.
In response to calls for by provincial governments for extra federal well being care funding, Trudeau acknowledged that any cash could be contingent on “accountability” and “outcomes.” These are code phrases for extra savage cost-cutting. Trudeau and the premiers are scheduled to satisfy subsequent month to plan the following steps of their slash and burn marketing campaign. The provincial calls for are themselves hypocritical within the excessive, on condition that governments like Ford’s are on file for withholding billions in COVID-19 emergency funds given to them by the federal authorities.
For his or her half, the Liberals have overseen a callous response to the pandemic that prioritized the safety of company earnings over human lives. Formally, over 50,000 Canadians have needlessly died of COVID-19, however main epidemiologists estimate the true variety of deaths to be nearer to 70,000.
The Liberals grudgingly launched, then promptly withdrew, the measly Canada Emergency Response Profit, capped at $2,000 per 30 days, that gave employees a brief monetary lifeline. On the similar time, they showered the nation’s largest companies with a $650 billion bailout starting in March 2020.
The NDP is simply as dedicated to the earnings of the banks and firms because the Conservatives and Liberals. NDP chief Jagmeet Singh has vowed to maintain the minority Liberals in energy till 2025 by a confidence and provide settlement, even because the Liberals oversee mass demise and the gutting of Medicare. Singh not too long ago demagogically attacked the Liberals for “doing nothing” to cease well being care privatization, earlier than making clear that the difficulty wouldn’t end result within the confidence-and-supply deal between the NDP and Liberals being damaged.
To the billionaires and millionaires who dictate all social and political selections, the general public funds allotted for well being care are a drain on their wealth accumulation, which their political lackeys have vastly accelerated by implementing tax cuts and company subsidies. Most significantly, they won’t tolerate any well being measures like a couple of additional sick days or necessary isolation protocols that take away employees from the method of producing wealth for these social parasites.
The non-public sector already gobbles up 30 % of well being care spending in Canada. It delivers a rising variety of providers, from diagnostics like MRIs and CT scans to minor surgical procedures, ambulance providers, and telehealth. Medicare doesn’t cowl dental and prescription eye care, so the overwhelming majority of the inhabitants pays for these bills out of pocket or desperately hopes that their employer-sponsored medical insurance offers protection.
A historic scarcity of nurses and different well being care employees has pressured hospitals to pay tons of of thousands and thousands to for-profit businesses, whose nurses, in the interim, earn significantly greater than their public sector counterparts. In lots of instances, company nurses are filling the identical job vacancies in public hospitals that they beforehand left due to burnout, low pay, and punishing schedules, together with pressured additional time.
The supply of public well being care falls below provincial jurisdiction. It was established, in apply, by two items of federal laws in 1957 and 1968, however the federal authorities restricted its position to funding the system. Medicare marked the final gasp of liberal social reform, and was solely granted within the face of militant struggles of the working class within the post-war period.
From a roughly 50-50 cut up of federal and provincial funding for Medicare within the Nineteen Sixties, consecutive federal governments rapidly scaled again their contributions. The federal share of Medicare funding right this moment stands at a mere 22 %. Provincial governments worsened this deficit by slashing well being care and different public spending to grant tax cuts to firms and the rich.
The rollback of federal funding to public well being care was kicked off in 1976 by former Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, the present prime minister’s father. Main cuts had been carried out by the Liberal governments of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, and continued by the Conservative authorities of Stephen Harper.
After this decades-long onslaught, the pandemic has compounded the disastrous situations in Canada’s well being care system. Employees are intimately conversant in overcrowded hospital ready rooms the place sufferers commonly die earlier than even seeing a health care provider. Practically 5 million Canadians shouldn’t have a household physician. A whole bunch of hundreds of individuals languish on years-long ready lists for routine procedures.
The privatization of Medicare is a political third rail that each main occasion is aware of is unattainable to perform . Survey after survey exhibits an amazing majority of Canadians oppose privatization. A important position in stopping this widespread standard sentiment from discovering any expression is performed by the commerce unions within the well being sector, which have systematically suppressed all struggles by well being care employees for enhancements to wages and dealing situations for many years. The unions extra broadly are a pillar of the anti-worker Liberal/NDP/union alliance, which the ruling elite is utilizing to impose its insurance policies of battle overseas, and public spending cuts and assaults on employees’ rights at dwelling. This contains the gutting of public well being care.
Requires privatization are rising because the ruling class intensifies its onslaught on working individuals. The invoice has come due for the large federal pandemic bailout of the banks and firms, in addition to continuous monetary hypothesis on Bay Avenue. The ruling elite is decided to make working individuals pay for the nine-year, 70 % hike in army spending the Liberals dedicated to in 2017, and the $1.1 billion in weaponry they’ve to date provided to Ukraine in assist of the US-NATO battle on Russia.
A political battle towards capitalism is urgently wanted to forestall the whole destruction of Medicare. Employees should reject the capitalists’ view of well being care as one thing to be bled dry and finally privatized for revenue. Free, high-quality well being care is a elementary human proper, nevertheless it can’t be achieved below capitalism. It may well solely be received by the battle for socialism and the institution of a employees’ authorities.