Defend Medicare forum on June 18

The SPCS is holding a Defend Medicare Forum on Wednesday, June 18,2014, 7 p.m. at Trail United Church.

I am writing to draw your readers attention to a serious threat to Canada’s Medicare that could change our public health care system into one modelled after the United States two-tiered, for-profit system.

A legal challenge to Medicare has been initiated by Dr.Brian Day, owner of the Vancouver based, for-profit Cambie Surgical Clinic which is known for unlawfully billing for medically necessary care. When patients complained and Dr. Day got wind that the complaints would be investigated, he started the legal case in an attempt to get around the law.

The case, which will be heard in the BC Supreme Court this fall, has been called “the most significant constitutional challenge in Canadian history”.

If Dr. Day is successful and wins this case, it could have far reaching effects across Canada and for all of us. It would open the door to a US style system where a family of four pays $16,000 annually for health insurance often with less coverage than under Medicare.

There are some 45 million Americans who have no coverage, and health care costs are the major cause of bankruptcies in the US. Such a system would drain physician and other resources from public health care and result in even longer wait lists in the public system, particularly for those without the ability to pay.

We are all aware of the wait times and other stresses on Medicare, largely due to years of under funding of health care by the two senior levels of government. We also know that we have excellent staff at the direct patient care level. However, at the end of March this year, the Federal Government unilaterally and without consultation, terminated the Canada Health Care Accord which resulted in the loss of millions of dollars by the provinces who have the primary responsibility to provide health care to its citizens.

The BC Health Coalition and Canadian Doctors for Medicare have been granted intervener status in the case which means they can participate directly in the case. In the effort to defend Medicare in court it is important that the people of B.C. also speak out to support them and the BC Government in vigorously fending off this attempt to privatize health care in Canada. It is essential that we do this in order to ensure that the principles of Medicare (universality, accessibility, portability, comprehensiveness and non profit administration) are maintained for all citizens, now and in the future.

To this end, the Society for the Protection and Care of Seniors (SPCS) is holding a Defend Medicare Forum on Wednesday, June 18,2014, 7 p.m. at Trail United Church (1300 Pine Avenue).

The keynote speaker will be Rick Turner of the BC Health Coalition and there will be an opportunity for questions and discussion, along with refreshments and a visit with friends and neighbours.

For those with questions, please can call me at 250-364-1487.

Ron Cameron

SPCS director