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“Sustainability” Scare Aimed at the Wrong Target

NIAGARA FALLS – Proponents of for-profit private health care claim our public health care system is “unsustainable,” but the facts show that these claims are driven far more by ideology than real data.

There is no question that the problem of rising health care costs is real – this problem is affecting all industrialized countries. However, publicly-funded services covered by Medicare are not the key drivers of increased health care costs in Canada. In fact, the costs associated with public health care have not increased dramatically in over thirty years. Recent increases in health care costs in Canada are attributable mainly to privately-funded health care goods and services, most notably prescription drugs that are covered by private insurance plans.

“Canada actually spends less public money on health care than most other high-income countries,” says Dr. Danielle Martin, Chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare. “Public health care spending is relatively stable. It’s the privately funded portion of Canadian healthcare that is spiralling out of control. If people are concerned about unsustainable costs, let’s put the blame where it belongs: on the private health care sector.”

Canadian Doctors for Medicare’s briefing note, Health Care Sustainability, explains the issues underlying the debate about health care sustainability, and how physicians in Canada can work together to control health care costs and to improve our health care system for the benefit of all Canadians.

The briefing note explains how offloading health care costs from governments to citizens risks increasing overall health care spending even more, because single payer health care systems are more cost effective and administratively efficient than multiple payer systems. Furthermore, in those parts of the system that are privately financed, our most vulnerable patients face barriers to access.

“More privatization would exacerbate, rather than relieve, the problem of rising health care costs,” says Dr. Robert Woollard, Vice-Chair of Canadian Doctors. “If we are genuinely concerned about sustainability, we should not seek to undermine the one aspect of our health care system in which costs have been managed satisfactorily – and that is Medicare.”

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Health Care Sustainability is available at

For more information about this briefing note, please contact Sean Meagher, Executive Director of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, at (416) 820-7889.