Trudeau Liberals vote to allow for-profit health care system, NDP blasts flip-flop

Canada's NDP issued the following press release on March 6, 2023:

OTTAWA — The Trudeau Liberals voted Monday to allow for-profit and cash-for-care corporations to take over some parts of health care in Canada — which the NDP fears will poach health care workers from the public system and lead to American-style billing.

Jagmeet Singh, leader of Canada’s NDP, led the vote in the House of Commons which called on each member of parliament to decide: should health care funding be used to rebuild the understaffed public system, or to set up for-profit corporations? Singh’s motion also called on the Liberal government to ban corporations from charging Canadians for surgeries and family doctor appointments.

Liberal MPs joined the Conservatives to vote no to rebuilding and protecting public health care, and no to banning billing.

“No one should have to start a go-fund-me campaign to pay for surgery. No one should have to pull out their credit card to see a doctor. And no one should wait longer because a private surgical corporation bumped a paying patient to the front of the line. But that’s what’s happening. The cash-for-care system is sucking doctors and nurses away from the public health care system, and patients are either paying up, or waiting longer,” said Singh.

“On Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s watch, hospitals are in crisis and the waits are excruciating. American-style corporations who want to make money off our pain are circling like vultures. I join Canadians who are shocked and frustrated at Mr. Trudeau’s flip flop. He’s siding with Doug Ford, Pierre Poilievre and the CEOs who own for-profit health corporations instead of patients and families. People will wait longer. They will get a bill.”

In 2021, Trudeau promised to stop all billing for health care by enforcing or amending the Canada Health Act, and campaigned against then-leader Erin O’Toole by blasting the Conservative plan to have for-profit corporations deliver more of Canada’s health care.

“There are two roads in front of us, and there is a clear difference between Justin Trudeau and I when it comes to health care,” said Singh. “I believe we can rebuild our public health care system. We can work with provinces to recruit, train, retain and respect health care workers. We can pay health care workers properly. We can cut wait times so care is ready when and where your family needs it — not just when you can afford it.”

Text of the motion:

That, given that,

(i) during the 2021 federal election campaign, the prime minister was harshly critical of the Conservative Party of Canada proposal to encourage “innovation” in the health care sector by expanding for-profit provision of publicly funded services,

(ii) the prime minister has now dramatically changed his position and has lauded as ‘’innovation” Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s proposed expansion of for-profit clinics,

(iii) for-profit clinics would poach workers from the public system and lead to longer wait times,

(iv) there are multiple public reports of two-tier health care in Canada, where people are charged for faster access to care, such as family doctors or surgery,

the House call on the government to:

a) express disappointment that the prime minister has promoted Ontario’s for-profit health plans as “innovation”;

b) ensure that recently announced health care funding is not used for to the expansion of for-profit health care, but instead be used to rebuild and innovate within the public system by hiring more staff and reducing wait times; and

c) enforce the Canada Health Act and immediately move to close loopholes that allow for the growth of two tier health care in Canada.

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