Drummond: Canada Health Act 'completely irrelevant'

Don Drummond, who is developing a report on public sector reform for the Ontario government, does not want to attack the Canada Health Act (CHA) -- or at least not directly.

The CHA is the federal government legislation which enshrines the five principles of Canadian public health care:  Universal, comprehensive, accessible, portable and publicly administered health care for all Canadians.

Drummond made this plain in an interview with CBC television about the Canada Health Act and privatization:
"[P]ut the word privatization, say the word Canada Health Act and you've got a heart attack, you've got an increase in people going to the hospitals just at the mention of those words. You have to be so careful how you approach this thing. So you have to roll some things off the table right at the beginning and then really focus that all this is about is improving the efficiency and that what we're actually trying to drive up the quality of the care, we're not trying to give you a weaker system."
In other words, he realizes that it would be politically bone-headed to directly call for changes to the Canada Health Act. And he is also a little skittish about any frank discussion of privatization.

But, Drummond adds this about the Canada Health Act: "It is bent so severely, if it's not broken it's certainly bent out of shape, who cares? It's completely irrelevant."

It is true that Stephen Harper is not doing much of a job enforcing the five principles. But the Canada Health Act makes it much more difficult for pro-privatization politicians (and their advisors) to move away from universal, comprehensive, portable, accessible, and publicly administered health care services for all Canadians.

Unfortunately, Drummond's positioning on the Canada Health Act (and privatization more generally) is helping him advance his line of attack on those very items.  

Many columnists have applauded his 'I'm not attacking the Canada Health Act or privatizing health care' line.  They seem to view him as a moderate from Bay Street -- even while he has called for the privatization of health care delivery (a gem from the Harris era).  Or how about this comment from Drummond to the CBC?

"I'm thinking let's go through the five or six years and redesign the system, make it more efficient and make it serve the client better."

Former Progressive Conservative premier Mike Harris himself might have said that very thing -- before his disastrous experiments with health care restructuring.

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