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New poll shows Canadians overwhelmingly support public health care

Group says advocates of private system are out of touch with most Canadians

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 12, 2009

Contact:
Michael McBane, national coordinator, Canadian Health Coalition, (613) 277-6295, www.medicare.ca

OTTAWA, Canada -- In a last-ditch effort to convince Canadians that their public health care system should be privatized, Canadian Medical Association (CMA) President Robert Ouellet has promised to "pull out all the stops" during the association's annual meeting next week. Trouble is, Ouellet's mission to lead the change to privatization is exactly the opposite of what 86 percent of Canadians want.

A new poll conducted by the Toronto-based Nanos Research points to overwhelming support -- 86.2 percent -- for strengthening public health care rather than expanding for-profit services.

"With more than 8 in 10 Canadians supporting public solutions to make public health care stronger, there is compelling evidence that Canadians across all demographics would prefer a public over a for-profit health care system," said Nik Nanos, president of Nanos Research.

Nanos Research was commissioned by the Canadian Health Coalition (CHC), a nonpartisan group that supports Canada's public health system, to conduct a random telephone survey of 1,001 Canadians between April 25 and May 3. The margin of accuracy for a sample of 1,001 is ±3.1 percentage points.

Meanwhile, Canada's government just released a report titled "Healthy Canadians -- A Federal Report on Comparable Health Indicators 2008." Its findings almost identically mirror the CHC polling results. In that report, a leading indicator points to the fact that "Most Canadians (85.2 percent) aged 15 years and older reported being 'very satisfied' or 'somewhat satisfied' with the way overall health care services were provided, unchanged from 2005."

Michael McBane, national coordinator of the CHC, commented: "Throughout our campaign, Canadians have told us they want to keep our health care system public and to improve it with made-in-Canada solutions. They also have told us they flat-out reject Dr. Ouellet's proposal to provide us with American-style, two-tier medicine. This poll certainly underlines that for us. Eighty-six percent is a significant portion of the population. It is striking that Dr. Ouellet could be so out of touch with the pulse of most Canadians."

McBane warned that Ouellet's latest effort to replace public health care with a private system uses language that is misleading. "If imported into Canada, Dr. Ouellet's ideas about activity-based funding, 'competition' and more private delivery would not yield European-style care, but instead would lead us down the road to U.S.-style care."

McBane continued: "At the CMA's annual meeting later this month, you will hear Ouellet talk about 'patient centered' care, but he really means 'profit-centered' care. He will talk about transformative health care -- which really means transforming a public system to one that is private. He will also unveil results of a CMA survey that he claims shows support for his new privatization scheme. In fact, the language used in the CMA survey was so vague and misleading that its results cannot possible be interpreted as support for more for-profit medicine."

McBane said that Ouellet, who owns or manages five private, for-profit diagnostic clinics, has a history of misleading Canadians. Recently, the CMA president toured Canada touting the merits of what he called the European model of health care -- cobbling together selective pieces of information from different European systems to lull Canadians into accepting the idea of more private, for-profit service.

"Dr. Ouellet needs to stop misleading Canadians and start telling them what he's really up to -- privatizing our health care system," said McBane. "His 'transformational change' agenda is his last kick at the can before becoming the CMA's past-president. Dr. Ouellet's privatized, for-profit vision won't solve a single problem of our public health care -- and more importantly, Canadians don't want it. And they've said this loud and clear."


The Canadian Health Coalition is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to protecting and expanding Canada's public health system for the benefit of all Canadians.
For more information, visit www.medicare.ca.

Physicians for a National Health Program, a membership organization of over 16,000 U.S. physicians, supports a single-payer national health insurance program. It has several authoritative spokespersons who can speak about the new Canadian poll and its significance for the U.S. health care reform debate.