The covert, corporate attacks against Canada’s healthcare system

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The covert, corporate attacks against Canada’s healthcare system

by: Mark Taliano | First published by Troy Media on Aug. 11, 2013:

It will take grassroots pressure to minimize the damage that could be caused to our healthcare system

[Photo credit:]

[Photo credit:]

For some time now opponents to equitable, universal healthcare have been smearing proponents of Canada’s “signature” social program, Medicare, by using a corporate “communications” strategy known as “FUD”, which stands for Fear Uncertainty Doubt.

In the U.S, the dynamic played out fairly recently with the launch of Michael Moore’s documentarySICKO. According to Wendell Potter, an American insurance industry whistleblower, the insurance industry, horrified by the poignancy of the documentary, targeted Michael Moore with a “FUD” attack.

Potter explained that the CIGNA insurance company tried to undermine Moore by portraying him as a communist, or a socialist, and as someone who was trying to undermine the American Dream.

As a universal healthcare program would save American lives and give many more Americans the liberty to strive for the mythical American Dream, the tactic seems counter-intuitive.

However, the appeal to emotions is a very powerful strategy. For decades, the advertising industry has successfully associated cigarette smoking, (and a multitude of other products,) with “freedom”, and other abstractions. People not only “buy” the messages, but they buy the products as well.

Similar Psy-Ops strategies are being employed in Canada under the Harper government.

Proponents of a move to private healthcare insinuate that we can no longer afford universality, that it isn’t sustainable, that corporations can deliver better results, that the “free” market can solve our problems, and that those who oppose corporate healthcare are, god forbid, “socialists” – typical FUD fare: manufacture fear, uncertainty, and doubt to undemocratically impose an agenda.

Unfortunately for Canadians, each of these accusations is baseless, (except maybe the last one) and the covert agenda is not supported by the will of the people. According to a Nanos poll released in March, 2011, 86 per cent of Canadians support publicly-funded healthcare.

The barely hidden agenda is to unravel Canada’s signature public healthcare model in favour of an aggregate of more expensive, more fragmented, and less universal corporate models.

Just as the Harper government corrupted the environmental file (in the name of “streamlining”) by drastically removing federal oversight and involvement (vacating jurisdiction), so too is it “vacating jurisdiction” of healthcare.

The agenda is being achieved by starving the provinces of required funding. Once the 2014 Health Accord is expired, the Harper government will reduce its Canada Health Transfers (CHT’s) – monies transferred from the federal government to the provinces – by $36 billion, up to the end of 2024.

The void of insufficient funding will be filled by corporate healthcare.

Once this is achieved, Canadians’ access to healthcare will be restricted, user fees will increase, insurance coverage will cost more, and patient fatalities will rise in number.

Here are some numbers:

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, public healthcare costs less than $180 per month per Canadian, while a private insurer in the U.S charges three times that amount for comparable service.

Even worse, according to a study by Dr. P.J Devereaux, and published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, if we switch to for-profit hospitals, over 2,000 more Canadians will die needlessly each year.

What are the drivers behind this agenda which is contrary to the wishes of about 86 per cent of Canadians?

According to the Council Of Canadians (who must surely be on Harper’s “enemy list”) there are three drivers:

  • Private investors, many based in the U.S, who want to cash in on Canadian healthcare (NAFTA guarantees equal treatment to U.S companies competing against our public system)
  • Canadian for-profit providers and insurers
  • Cash-starved provincial governments

The alternatives to this ideologically-driven agenda are fairly straightforward.

First, we need a nationalized pharmacare program. Canada is the only OECD country with universal health insurance that does not cover prescription drugs. Canada would save about $10.7 billion per year with a universal public drug plan.

Second, we need to stop the Comprehensive Economic And Trade Agreement (CETA) with Europe. Under this corporate empowerment deal, the price of pharmaceutical drugs will rise by $3 billion annually.

Finally, we need to reinvest in public healthcare. Currently, public healthcare represents about 70 per cent of total healthcare; we need to increase it to 100 per cent. We also need to increase, not decrease, health transfers (CHT’s) from the federal government to the provinces.

Unfortunately, the better alternatives will not materialize under the Harper government, but with grassroots pressure damages to our healthcare system might at least be minimized.

Troy Media contributor Mark Taliano is a writer, activist, and retired teacher.

Blog posts by guest bloggers, including press releases and content from other publications.
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12 comments on “The covert, corporate attacks against Canada’s healthcare system
  1. When the Harper government says it is time to wind down the Health Council of Canada, it is saying in effect, it is time to wind down national medicare. This was the glue that held medicare together, and kept it responsive to the evolving needs of the Canadian people.

    The vacuum in federal leadership will fragment the health care system into 14 separate systems operating independently from each other. This fragmentation undermines the core principles of the Canada Health Act, especially comprehensive coverage and portability between provinces and territories.

    Lack of federal coordination and guardianship means that more and more Canadians will lack access to comparable health services in primary care, prescription drugs, home care, rehabilitation and longer-term care.

  2. Devolution is always the first step in dismantling.

    Harper's NCC was founded by insurance millionaire Colin Brown as a personal advertising campaign against medicare. Harper has adopted a policy of cut-and-run on medicare — cut the cheque and run from any responsibility for ensuring it is spent in ways consistent with a national health care program.

    About the only thing the PM has been up front about is that he has no plans to get in the way of privatized medicine.

  3. Wealth can not be created, only taken from others, the environment and from future generations.

    This is another typical, historical example of special interests robbing the public blind, as always with the psychological force feeding with faith based theories to serve self appointed nobilities and always in the name of "freedpm".

  4. I see.. "In a recent plebiscite, 62 per cent of farmers voted to retain the Wheat Board.."
    Between election fraud, contempt, an unprecedented $600 billion in debt, letting big oil rewrite and destroy Canadian laws and protections with billc45, I don't understand how this man is not in jail already.

  5. HARPER'S Allegiance is to "THE NATIONAL CITIZENS COALITION" (NOT CANADIANS) an organization founded by Colin Brown, a rich Insurance operator from London, Ontario who purchased full page space in newspaper across Canada in a vain attempt to stop the implementation of our National Health Care System….He also for some reason wanted to eliminate the Canadian Wheat Board which through Harper I believe this has been done.
    Harper was elected in Calgary as an MP or MPP but soon resigned to take over as the CEO or Chairman of BROWN'S NATIONAL CITIZENS COALITION He was groomed well by this group and soon replaced the Leader of the Reform Party. Harper's future as Leader of the Reform group along with Peter MacKay an aspirant for the Leadership of the "PROGRESSIVE" Conservative Party became according to David Orchard a conspiracy to eliminate the PROGRESSIVE from the Progressive Conservative PARTY and align it with Harper's into the "CONSERVATIVE PARTY".
    ORCHARD another aspirant for the Progressive Conservative Party Leadership at the time found himself, after the first ballet, being approached by MacKay with the requesting that Orchard place his delegates in support of Mackay…ORCHARD agreed to do so but only IF MacKay signed an agreement that he WOULD NOT approach HARPER to Merge with the REFORM PARTY…The rest is history in its bleakest form for…as…soon…as MacKay was elected Leader of the "PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE PARTY" MACKAY completely disregarded the signed agreement with ORCHARD and immediately joined HARPER in an act I once called the actions of a JUDAS MacKay…That is why I do not trust anyone who wears the sneer of A Conservative.

  6. One of the first things we need to do is spread this message among our fellow Canadians, and get it viral. Second, come 2015, is vote Harper and his band of traitors, out of office.

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