NDP Calls on Pallister Government to Defend Public Health-Care System; End Agenda of Cuts

The Pallister government must defend the public health-care system by closing the door on credit-card medicine and by reversing its agenda of privatization and cuts to health services for families across the province, NDP Health Critic Matt Wiebe said today.

“The premier is closing a Quick Care Clinic and threatening to close access centres and emergency rooms,” Wiebe said. “It seems the only solution the premier has for health care is to open the door to private medicine available only to those who can pay.”

Wiebe noted the Pallister government is failing to defend the principles of the Canada Health Act by allowing private companies to compete with the public system. Private companies draw nurses and doctors away from the public system at a time when there is already a shortage of health workers to meet the needs of families, Wiebe added.

“The health minister cited a shortage of nurses when closing a QuickCare clinic in St. Boniface, but now he lets a private company open staffed by nurses,” Wiebe said. “At the same time, the health minister is considering letting private MRI clinics open. If this trend toward privatization continues, a lot of families that can’t afford private care will end up facing longer waits in the public system.”

Earlier this year, the health minister cancelled $1 billion in needed health-care projects across the province, including an expanded Cancer Care facility to help families dealing with cancer, Wiebe pointed out. The government agenda to cut a continuum of frontline services includes:

  • cancelling the Home Hospital Team that provided seniors with visits by doctors and nurses;
  • closing a QuickCare clinic in St. Boniface and signalling they may close more;
  • threatening to close access centres;
  • cancelling a personal care home in Lac du Bonnet and another in Transcona while making it difficult for any new ones to be built; and
  • indicating they are considering closing emergency rooms at some hospitals.

Furthermore, the government voted against an NDP bill to ban health-care premiums – a bill that would have protected families from paying more out of pocket for health care, Wiebe noted.

“The Pallister government must uphold its responsibility to families and defend the public health-care system by closing the door on privatization and credit-card medicine,” Wiebe said. “The premier must also reverse his agenda of cuts and invest instead in the programs and infrastructure needed to deliver the health services families need.”