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September 25, 2002

For-profit MRI & CT Scan Update:
Clement says he's looking at it,
Eves says "policy is evolving"

Good News Update:
On Thursday, the Ontario Health Coalition released our report "Scanning For Profit: A Critical Review of the Evidence Regarding For-Profit MRI and CT Clinics"  in a press conference at Queen's Park.  (The report is available on our website at http://www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca .)  Media response was excellent. The story was carried every hour on CBC radio and was featured in articles in the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail as well as in local media across the province.

By Friday, Ontario Health Minister Tony Clement told the CBC that he is looking at the findings in the report -- that if for-profit clinics are not faster, better, cheaper then the government won't privatize.  Ernie Eves said that the government's policy on this matter "is evolving."

Let's help him evolve it a little faster.  You can contact Ernie Eves at:

Room 281, Main Legislative Building
Queen's Park, Toronto, ON  M7A 1A1
Telephone: (416) 325-1941
Fax (416) 325-3745 6195
ernie_eves@ontla.ola.org

Background on Private MRI and CT Clinics

Timelines....In June, Clement announced the provincial conservative government's intention to privatize key diagnostic services by creating 25 for-profit MRI and CT clinics across Ontario.  Foreign and domestic for-profit corporations will bid for these clinics this fall.  Deals are to be signed by the new year, according to Clement.

Threat to Medicare....Non-profit hospital services are a cornerstone of Medicare. Clement's announcement was a serious signal of the Conservatives'  intent to Americanize our entire health system -- including establishing corporate control and profit-seeking in hospitals.

Create a crisis then privatize.... After spending the $60 million diagnostic equipment fund transfered from the federal government last year on beds, bathtubs and other subsidies for for-profit long corporations who would have bought these items anyway, Clement is now using the waiting lists for MRIs and CTs as a reason to promote his "privatize everything" ideology.  The conclusion of our report is clear: if we fund the hospital MRI & CT clinics and deal with staffing issues so that we can increase the hours of operation of current scanners and place new scanners in hospitals, we can reduce wait times as needed and avoid all of the problems that would come with for-profit clinics.  No queue jumping should be allowed -- waiting times should be based on need.

Slower, Costlier, Riskier.... There is no evidence that these clinics will do better than public MRIs and CTs to improve wait times, safety, costs or quality. In fact, the evidence is that they are costlier and riskier. They cream the most profitable easiest tests and pull scarce personnel out of the public system. They create more problems as the public system struggles to provide the most expensive complex tests with less people and fewer resources.

The Ontario Health Coalition report looked at all of the available evidence regarding for-profit MRI and CT Clinics and found:
• Opening for-profit clinics would, at best, have minimal impact on waiting times, and probably increase waits in the public sector.
• For profit clinics allow people to queue jump without respect to medical need (2 Tier Medicare). This is happening in Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec and Nova Scotia.
• There is a higher risk of poorer quality in stand alone for-profit clinics than in hospitals.
• It is less expensive to expand services in the public sector than to pay for-profit clinics to initiate new MRI services. Calgary’s experience indicates it could cost 21 - 25% more.
• For-profit clinics, where doctors have a financial interest in the facility, have a higher incidence of medically inappropriate referrals and less service to the poor and elderly.
• For-profit clinics draw critical personnel and resources away from the public health care system.
See a summary of findings and full report on our website.

Ontario Health Coalition
15 Gervais Drive, Suite 305
Toronto, Ontario M3C 1Y8
tel: 416-441-2502
fax: 416-441-4073
email: ohc@sympatico.ca
www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca