Following a visit from Ontario Premier Doug Ford to Atlantic Canada, and the “Atlantic-Ontario Health Care Summit” held on Monday, August 21, 2022, Premier Blaine Higgs remarked that “nothing is off the table” when it comes to health care solutions for the province. This included privatizing healthcare.
We want to be as clear as possible. The New Brunswick Coalition of Persons with Disabilities in no way considers health care privatization to be an appropriate solution for New Brunswick, and especially not for its members and the 26.7 per cent of New Brunswickers with disabilities.
As a matter of fact, the only people that may benefit from privatized care is “the 1 per cent,” the elite.
It is not unheard of for Premiers to work together for the benefit of the people. However, Doug Ford, who has longed for the Americanization of our health care system, may not be the right choice. Is Ford here to work with our premier and help New Brunswick and its healthcare system, or is he here to help himself to privatized health care on the backs of Atlantic Canadians? Are the Atlantic Canadian premiers serving their constituents in this case, or serving as a vassal to Ford?
Where will they get the staff to run private clinics? There is no “magical doctor and nurses store.” The only option is to take them from our current public system. This will in no way result in an overall reduction in the total wait list, it will simply ‘fudge’ the numbers and shift the problems around. This helps no one.
Private care will also require those who can, to purchase expensive private insurance. Very few with disabilities will be able to afford this on their own. Due to current Social Development health card regulations, will the government be on the hook to buy very costly private insurance for everyone in New Brunswick?
We cannot overlook pre-existing conditions either. Persons with disabilities and seniors will qualify for little to no coverage due to the “pre-existing” nature of disabilities and aging. Our premier has no problem saying to the single largest demographic group in the province (26.7 per cent) that he wants to create a new medical system that will not care for us? And are we, along with the seniors of New Brrunswick expected to sit back quietly and accept yet again being treated like second class citizens?
What if you woke up tomorrow with a disability? Would your stance on this change? The foundation of Medicare is equal access to healthcare for all; not just the rich. Tommy Douglas must be turning in his
grave ashamed–ashamed of what decades of government neglect has done to Medicare and ashamed that a premier from a densely populated province would come to our home and try to lead Atlantic Canadian premiers down a path that would be harmful to many in New Brunswick.
Without a doubt, privatization of health care would be disastrous to persons with disabilities, be it a visible, invisible, or mental health disability. To many, this would be the first step down a very slippery slope of two-tier lifestyles, and seniors, minorities and persons with disabilities will, without a doubt, suffer the consequences.
Let’s all “Be in this Place”- and be here with equal access to care.
Shelley Petit is the chair of the New Brunswick Coalition of Persons with Disabilities.