On July 12, 1966, the Medical Care Insurance Act was passed by the federal House of Commons after a ferocious public debate that pitted the vast majority of Canadians against a powerful alliance of business, insurance companies, and doctors.
More than thirty years later, the same battle is being fought all over again. Only now, the forces opposed to medicare are more ideologically unified, more richly endowed, and tied to transnational corporations whose power exceeds that of entire countries.
In "Profit Is Not the Cure, " Maude Barlow traces the history of medicare in Canada. She compares it with both public and private systems in other parts of the world. And she contrasts it with the brutally divisive system that exists in the United States, where forty-four million people have no medical insurance, and millions more get minimal care through profit-driven health maintenance organizations.
From the point of view of most patients, the United States health-care model is a disaster. But the proponents of privatization in Canada, supported by the right-wing media and corporate lobbyists, are determined to impose American-style "reforms" on the Canadian public. Three provinces - British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario - are moving ahead rapidly to enlarge the role of commerce in the provision of health-care services. They are introducing user fees, delisting procedures that previously were covered, and encouraging private corporations to move into areas that used to be the exclusive domain of the public system.
While the prime minister and federal cabinet have paid lipservice to the principles of medicare, they have made it clear by their actions that they will do nothing to impede the destruction of those principles by the provinces. In fact, their enthusiastic support of NAFTA, and the impending Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) and General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), has made the defence of medicare increasingly difficult.
Canadians overwhelmingly support medicare. Many, however, have been persuaded that it is a luxury we can no longer afford. Maude Barlow argues that this proposition is wrong. An earlier generation fought a bitter battle to bring medicare into existence. Another battle must be fought now to save it. But we owe it to the founders of the system, as well as to future generations, to take up the cause again. This important book shows the way.
"From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
J. JACKSON BARLOW is Director of Higher Education Programs, Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution.
ELIZABETH MAY is an environmentalist, writer, activist and lawyer. She is executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada and the author of several books, including her most recent, At the Cutting Edge: The Crisis in Canada s Forests. She has been a senior policy advisor to former federal environment minister Tom McMillan, and was instrumental in the creation of several national parks and pollution control measures. At Dalhousie University in Halifax, she holds the recently established Elizabeth May Chair in women s health and the environment.
“This smart book provides passionate arguments as to why this social program needs to be saved, without sounding preachy or sanctimonious. It is an important point of view that many should consider when pondering the future of Canada’s $100-billion-a-year health-care system.”
–Globe and Mail
“We are currently experiencing the most sustained and deliberate assault on medicare in its nearly four decades of history.”
“Profit Is Not The Cure is a major contribution to the realm of activism and social justice in Canada… [Barlow’s] book is a call to action, a refreshing example of grassroots political motivation in the midst of policy debates usually dominated by medical associations and politicians.”