Health care isn’t just for the rich

The size of your bank account shouldn’t determine your quality of health care but that’s what will happen if “medical tourism” is approved in Ontario.

Hospitals are under pressure to do more with less. The cost of health care is on the rise and health care providers are caught between shrinking budgets and increasing demand. A proposed solution called “medical tourism” means offering for-pay treatment to patients from across the world. While this may increase revenue, it seriously threatens the quality of health care available to Canadians.

Allowing patients to pay to get to the front of the line means wealthy people can receive treatment more quickly than ordinary Canadians. Some hospitals have defended this practice by saying for-pay services will only be available for procedures where there is more capacity than demand. But what happens when that demand changes suddenly? A shift in demand could leave Canadian patients waiting unnecessarily for a procedure.

Our health care system is supposed to make decisions based solely on what will do the most good for the most patients involved. Medical tourism shifts decision making away from the greater good and toward profit.

For-profit health care in hospitals costs more and results in higher risks for patient mortality compared with not-for-profit hospitals. Allowing for-profit health care that is more expensive, less equitable, less effective, and that results in worse health outcomes is not in the best interests of Ontario’s health-care system.
— Letter from the Registered Nurses of Ontario and the Association of Ontario Health Centres to Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins

Medical tourism hurts everyone, especially the members of our community who traditionally don’t have a voice, like those living with poverty, homelessness, language or cultural barriers, or chronic and complex health conditions. The Health Centre strives to provide inclusive and equitable health and social services for these community members, and that’s why we too are advocating to ban medical tourism.  Every One Matters.