Spring 2020 Newsletter

Our position on privatization

Canada has a health care system guided by the Canada Health Act.  This Act is guided by five principles:

  1. public administration of services b) comprehensiveness c) universality d) portability and e) accessibility. 

Health care operations are governed by the federal government who sets overarching policy and the provinces and territories who deliver health care service using a non-profit insurance based system funded by taxpayers. 

Since Canada’s national public health care program was established in 1966, there have been numerous challenges presented which would allow private businesses to provide services and make a profit.  

Most  recently,  with the advancement of technology, private for -profit businesses have begun to offer primary care services using virtual technology.  In some cases, this has allowed family practice physicians to augment their income by expanding their services to provide episodic care in this fashion.  Patients may find access to care in this way to be faster and easier than the traditional office visit.  Governments are reviewing this type of care with an eye to cost efficiency and patient access looking through the lens of the Canada Health Act. 

But there are bigger issues and principles at stake with this model of care delivery. 

Community health centers (CHCs) operate with five principles of their own: a) operate as a community-based non- profit organization governed to meet community needs b) provision of primary care in a team -based care model c) wrap around services that focus on the social determinants of patient health d) adherence to principles of social justice, and e) adherence to the principle of health equity. 

With the trend towards use of technology and the privatization of health service delivery in a for-profit manner, executives at CHCs worry about the eroding of health equity, the addition of more barriers to service access for those unable to pay or use technology, and the added competitive pressure on a system extremely challenged by a lack of resources, funding and distribution.  

The privatization of health service delivery puts decisions in the hands of organizations that focus on profit and not the 5 principles outlined in the Canada Health Act. Who is being left behind in this privatized model? How is quality of care measured by these providers and what about a longitudinal care relationship?  

For these reasons, the BC Association of Community Health Centres (BCACHC) does not support the privatization of health service delivery in Canada as seen with some of the recently formed telehealth companies. BCACHC advocates for a renewed and strengthened public health care system that ensures all Canadians have access to appropriate and high-quality care. CHCs are a critical component of a public health care as they  ensure services are available to the most vulnerable members of our communities should be provided with sustainable funding to play this critical role. 

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