Canadian Medical Association

Canadian Medical Association

August 13, 2007 13:04 ET

Canadian Medical Association: Open Letter to the Prime Minister of Canada

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 13, 2007) -

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister:

On August 1, 2007, Ms. Doris Grinspun of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario wrote to you in regards to the Canadian Medical Association's (CMA) Medicare Plus policy statement on the future of health care in Canada. I am writing to both clarify the CMA's position and correct the inaccuracies in Ms. Grinspun's letter (attached).

First, Ms. Grinspun entirely misconstrues the essence of our policy statement by suggesting that the CMA is calling for a two-tier health-care system. Quite the contrary, the CMA reaffirmed our commitment to the principle that access to care should be based on need and not the ability to pay. Medicare must remain universal and equitable. For several years now, we have called for evidence-based benchmarks to timely access to care backed by a publicly-funded wait time guarantee. The $612-million Patient Wait Times Guarantee Trust announced by your government in the 2007 federal budget is a positive first step. In light of the Chaoulli decision, however, the CMA believes that when all publicly-funded options have run out, Canadians should have access to private insurance.

Second, Ms. Grinspun's general observation that physicians have the choice of opting out of provincial Medicare plans is not true in her own province of Ontario. She should know that The Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act 2004 specifically prohibits any further opting out by Ontario physicians. This puts them in a unique position compared to their colleagues across the country.

Third, I expect that you are already aware that one of the three sites participating in the Alberta Hip and Knee Replacement Pilot Project to which Ms. Grinspun refers that has shown such remarkable success in reducing wait times for hip and knee replacement is the privately owned Health Resource Centre (HRC) in Calgary. HRC is non-unionized and meets higher regulatory standards than the public system. It is an excellent example of publicly funded, privately delivered health care and warrants positive consideration by other government across Canada.

In closing, let me assure you that despite letters and newspaper headlines that suggest the opposite, the CMA remains firmly committed to the principles of Medicare and continues to be a forceful advocate for a strong, publicly-funded health care system in Canada.


Colin J. McMillan, MD, CM, FRCPC, FACP


Contact Information

  • Canadian Medical Association
    Lucie Boileau
    Manager of media relations
    1-800-663-7336 or 613-731-8610 ext. 1266