Canada’s Conservative establishment braces for another battle to privatize public health care

To analyse

Ready or not, they’re coming

Another debate on the further privatization of Canada’s public health care system looms on the horizon, according to the highest voices on the right.

Like Canada’s health care system, already underfunded after decades of right-wing austerity cutsCOVID-19 pressure loops and omicron wave pushes hospital capacities to their limits, several right-wing pundits, think tanks, and newspapers all coincidentally started sending the same message:

Privatize health care.

Over the weekend, the editorial staff of the right National post delved into the issue by proposing that Canada’s “shaky health care system” could be solved with the snap of a finger if Canadians “end our unnecessary aversion to allowing private sector involvement in health care.”

“We cannot expect the problems the pandemic has exposed to be resolved by throwing money at the problem while going about business as usual,” the editorial explained. “We need political parties from all walks of life to be open to embracing fundamental changes in health care in Canada, and this must include a greater role for the private sector. “

Fortunately for the National Post, other right-wing voices were already busy preparing the ground for this message days earlier.

On January 8, longtime conservative insider Ken Boessenkool caught fire on Twitter after suggesting private healthcare delivery could be a “silver lining” for the pandemic.

“It will be much harder to flout public health care provided by the private sector after millions of Canadians get vaccinated at a pharmacy,” Boessenkool tweeted, adding that it could be “a silver lining. of this pandemic “.

Former Stephen Harper adviser and chief of staff to former British Columbia Liberal premier Christy Clark did not respond as well as might have been expected.

“Want to be aggressively attacked (some say ‘intimidated’) by left-wing health fanatics? Boessenkool complained in a follow-up tweet.

“Step 1: Describe how health care works in Canada. Step 2: Say it should continue.

Boessenkool is not the only right-wing voice to advance in a debate on the privatization of Canada’s public health care system.

This view was also recently expressed by the CD Howe Institute, a think tank on right-wing, business-friendly public policy – including Boessenkool also happens to be a comrade.

In one open letter to the “ministers of health of Canada” published in two parts days earlier on the CD Howe website, Don Drummond and Duncan sinclair wrote that the Canada Health Act, which provides the framework for universal health care, is failing and argues for more private delivery:

“Medicare, our label for Canada’s cherished healthcare system, fails … Accept the adage that the role of the physician is to prevent disease when possible and treat it when necessary,” Excluding preventive services from coverage, whether by physicians or other health care providers, does not make sense.

Drummond, a former TD Bank economist, previously headed a commission under the Ontario Liberals of Dalton McGuinty who advocated new austerity cuts in public services – including cuts to Ontario’s health care system.

CD Howe’s report follows a blog post by The Hub, an online publication that counts a number of Harper and Kenney alumni as contributors.

Sean Speer, former senior adviser to Stephen Harper and director of policy at the Fraser Institute, also blamed Canada’s public system in an article titled: “In 2022, Can We Finally Be Honest About The Failures In Our Health Systems?” “

In it, Speer laments the broad public support for universal health care.

“It’s not just that we have collectively decided to ban most forms of private health care delivery in the misguided pursuit of egalitarian goals,” Speer wrote. “This is because we have apparently extended the ban to political and political debates about our current health care system and its shortcomings.”

Speer, like others who have started talking about this issue over the past week, calls for “a greater role in the provision of private health care.”

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