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Letter: Private health care has been an 'unequivocal failure'

Canada's health-care system needs help, but helping the rich get richer isn't the answer.
B.C.'s health-care system is in crisis, but this letter writer says privatizing care is no answer for our children.


In recent months, childhood hospitalizations and deaths due to the trifecta of RSV, influenza and COVID-19 have reached all-time highs. In early January, the B.C. government renewed use of its emergency operations centres, at least in part due to the demands placed on the health-care system by younger patients.

Our children are suffering. The reason they’re suffering is because of under-funding of the health-care system and undermining of the health-care system by those who seek to profit by its destruction. The reason we’re here is greed. Greed is winning out over the health of our children.

And who should waltz into the fray and offer solutions for the crisis?

The same people who have been undermining the health-care system all along. They offer us privatization as the magic bullet. The thing about private health care is that it doesn’t help our children, but it does help its proponents get rich.

South of the border there are decades of failures of private health care. The landscape is littered with stories of personal bankruptcies, minor illnesses turned into chronic ones, as well as both premature and preventable deaths. Every experiment, innovation and combination of private health has been tried over the past century in the U.S., and has failed. There is not a single success story to point to. Why is such an unequivocal failure something that we would choose to experiment with?

If your neighbour gets drunk and goes jumping on a trampoline, why would you ever consider following their example?

The only thing that’s innovative about private health care is that it’s a new way for its proponents to get rich. We should let that idea die on the operating table and move on to solutions that actually have a chance of success. The people who want to profit at the expense of our children’s health are not the people we should be listening to.

Yes, good health care is expensive. And maybe there are success stories of new ideas in places like Europe, that share our values for children’s health above personal accumulation of wealth. We should pursue those ideas. Aren’t our children’s futures worth picking some good ideas instead of picking a resounding failure?

Paul Holden, Burnaby

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