Medicare avoids the middleman

Dalton McGuinty puzzled people recently when he mused that private doctors-for-hire could fix Ontario’s province-wide emergency room problems.
The comment got people at the Tim Hortons talking. Some people wondered if McGuinty had turned his back on medicare. Others waiting for their “double-double” figured McGuinty was on to something.
So long as private companies do a good job, why not let them run health care?
Since we’re talking Tim Hortons, let me use some coffee shop talk to explain why I am on the side of people who want to strengthen medicare and keep it public.
If I have $5 for coffee and muffins, I want $5 for coffee and muffins. I’ll walk up to the counter, place my order, hand the server my fiver, then go on my merry way with my $5 worth of coffee and muffins.
All is right with the world.
What I won’t do is give my $5 to the chatty guy ahead of me, then tell him: “Get me $3 worth of Timbits and keep the change for yourself.”
You see, I want the best bang for my baked goods buck. I am not going to waste any of my hard-earned dough on a middleman. That just doesn’t make sense.
And so it is with health care. If I have $10 for health care, I want $10 to go to health care. I don’t want $7 going to health care, with $3 going to a middleman.
That’s why I support medicare. Public is better than private for all kinds of reasons, but a big one is that public health care is simply more efficient. It ensures our precious public health care dollars go to patient care for our family, friends, and neighbours—not profits for middlemen.
What got Mr. McGuinty talking about private doctors in the first place is an emergency room crisis that threatens to shut down ERs in 20-plus communities, including Atikokan, Belleville, Brockville, Cambridge, Guelph, Hanover, Kitchener-Waterloo, Leamington, Sault Ste. Marie, and Timmins.
Mr. McGuinty wants us to believe that patients looking at an ER crunch only have two options: A private doctor or no doctor at all.
New Democrats say there is a third way, a better way. It’s the medicare way. Let’s take the private health care middleman right out of the equation. Let’s dedicate all our health care dollars to a public solution to the ER crisis.
And let’s take action to make sure no patient is denied the health care they need and deserve.
Manitoba has shown us the way. Last summer, our neighbour to the west bolstered emergency department services.
By creating better incentives for doctors to take on stressful emergency room work, by providing emergency doctors to short-staffed hospitals, and by investing to lower emergency room wait times, Manitoba strengthened medicare and prevented problems in the emergency room before they started.
More private health care would turn back the clock. Medicare is better, fairer, and more affordable. It’s the way forward. The best thing our premier could do for working families worried about the ER crisis is to reconsider his flirting with private health care.
Strengthening medicare and moving forward with positive public solutions like Manitoba’s will guarantee high-quality, accessible emergency room care for every Ontarian who needs it.

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