FIQ (Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec)

Privatization – Déjà vu all over again

Privatization – Déjà vu all over again

May 17, 2019 – A few days ago, Health Minister Danielle McCann confirmed that the pilot project enabling three private clinics to conduct one-day surgeries in the greater Montreal area will be extended for another year.

She said they need more time to compare the cost of surgery in private clinics to that in the public network. Taking into consideration service accessibility and this extension, it’s all very fraught with meaning and feels like déjà-vu.

After all those years with the Liberals in power, we’ve gotten used to hearing justifications like these, of the private sector coming to save the public network. Now, with the CAQ in power, history seems to be repeating itself.

Let’s be honest, this type of comparison is pointless because they are comparing apples with oranges. The difference in productivity between the public and private sector isn’t a result of the private being more efficient but rather that the private sector doesn’t have to deal with the same constraints as the public network when it comes to surgery conditions. To truly compare the efficiency of the private and public sectors, we’d need to set the public up with the same conditions for success as we hand the private on a silver platter! First on the list would be providing the public sector with enough healthcare staff to provide safe, quality care!

You might say that extending this agreement for three private clinics for one year isn’t the end of the world. And that’s true. However, it’s the cumulative effect of all of the private health care openings that make it impossible to go back to the way it was. Rather than seeking to better meet the population’s needs, these projects line the pockets of doctors who own private clinics.

The private sector isn’t helping to relieve overcrowding in the public network, it’s draining it of human resources and worsening the workforce shortage, making wait lists even longer.

The private health sector also gets better results because it cherry picks its cases. Private clinics carefully select the most profitable surgeries and treatments, leaving the heavier, riskier, more complex cases to the public sector.

Everyone wants the population to have faster access to services, including me and my organization. All the same, there’s no doubt that the public network remains the best way to guarantee safe, quality care to the population. But every piece that is chipped away from the public system threatens the accessibility and universality of our health care. We must stay on guard!