Release: Health orgs urge Premier Wynne to stop med tourism

April 16, 2014

Toronto,  Canadian Newswire - Recent remarks by Ontario's Minister of Health indicating unqualified support for medical tourism have prompted five health organizations to urge Premier Kathleen Wynne to step in and end the practice of allowing hospitals to solicit patients from other countries.

According to recent media reports, University Health Network, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Mount Sinai Hospital and the Hospital for Sick Children have all provided care on a for-profit basis, to people from outside Canada. This has prompted the groups - the Association of Ontario Health Centres, the Association of Ontario Midwives, Canadian Doctors for Medicare, the Medical Reform Group and the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) - to write a letter to Premier Wynne. The letter asks the Premier to protect the province's publicly funded health-care system by closing the door on the practice of medical tourism and focusing on meeting people's care needs, not on their ability to pay.

In the letter, the groups warn that allowing hospitals to go shopping for patients in a bid to raise revenue will redirect already stretched resources and jeopardize the province's ability to provide care for Ontarians. "The public wants, and needs, a clear signal from (the provincial government) that it is not 'open season' on our operating rooms and clinical facilities," the letter states. "Premier, by taking a hands-off approach when public hospitals announce plans to offer fee-based medical services to foreign patients, Ontario risks stepping onto a slippery slope toward a two-tier system of health care, where a parallel for-profit system provides care to those who can afford to pay."

The Association of Ontario Health Centres (AOHC) is Ontario's voice for community-governed primary health care and represents over 108 community-governed primary health care organizations including Ontario's Community Health Centres, Aboriginal Health Access Centres, Community Family Health Teams and Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics. The association holds a strong commitment to advance health equity and recognizes that access to the highest attainable standard of health is a fundamental human right.

The Association of Ontario Midwives is the professional organization representing midwives and the practice of midwifery in the province of Ontario. It is run by a 12-member Board of Directors.

Canadian Doctors for Medicare provides a voice for Canadian doctors who want to strengthen and improve Canada's universal publicly-funded health care system. We advocate for innovations in treatment and prevention services that are evidence-based and improve access, quality, equity and sustainability.

The Medical Reform Group is a democratic organization of physicians, medical students and others committed to ensuring access to high quality health care for all Canadians. Our goal is to provide a voice for physicians and others who share the MRG principles and beliefs.

The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.

SOURCE Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario