Much Ado About Nothing
Well, it appears various Conservatives and Liberals are all giddy over the fact that 10 years ago, Jack Layton had hernia surgery in a private clinic in Toronto.
They all seem to be stuck on the word "private" and missing the point. "Hypocricy!" they scream.
No, not really.
The NDP position is pretty clear - we are against the expansion of private, for-profit, American-style medicine and are for the enforcement of the Canada Health Act.
The Canadian Health Coalition, a public healthcare advocacy group, has no problem with the Shouldice Clinic due to its non-profit status. Further, it indicates that its model of specialization can be emulated by public clinics, as Alberta has done sucessfully and as has been recommended by the The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Dr. Michael Rachlis this past December, to drastically alleviate wait times.
"Public funds to support the public system. In the next Parliament, we will
introduce tough new rules in the legislation and agreements that govern federal
transfers to provinces for health care. We will make stable, long-term federal
transfers for health care contingent on a commitment from provinces and
territories that no federal money, directly or indirectly, will be used to
subsidize a new, separate, profit-making private insurance
system covering medically necessary services." (empahsis mine)
"The Shouldice Hospital is not an example of private health care as an
alternative to public health. It does not pose the same threat under NAFTA that
Bill 11 in Alberta poses. Neither does it pose the same threat to public
medicare that Bill 11 poses." from the Canadian Health Coalition.
In short, Jack has nothing to be ashamed of and non-profit clinics like the Shouldice are part of the solution, not part of the problem. They are the model for streamlining the system, when emulated by the public system, as Dr. Rachlis and (unwittingly) the Government of Alberta have shown.
The NDP defends public healthcare not against allies that happened to be private, but against for-profit privatized healthcare such as the Copeman Clinics, which take your money, allow you to jump the queue and drive up the costs of healthcare because they bill provincial health insurance plans higher rates.
And before we get stuck on the semantics of "privatization", lets not forget that when Ralph Klein talks about private options, and muses about violating the Canada Health Act, he isn't talking about non-profit private clinics like the Shouldice either.