Conservative governments across Canada are moving towards healthcare privatization. Scott Moe’s Saskatchewan Party has been a trend-setter in this regard. In 2016, the Saskatchewan government introduced private-pay MRI services in an attempt to decrease wait times. The legislation allows private facilities to charge for the diagnostic scan but also mandates them to perform a second scan to someone on the public wait-list.

Instead of decreasing, the most recent numbers show that the wait-list has been growing rapidly. Between April 2015 and June 2019, the wait-list more than doubled. Of course, the increases are in large part a result of an aging population. However, it is increasingly clear that the privatization plan is not living up to the government’s promises.

In June 2017, Saskatchewan’s Provincial Auditor released a report that found the so-called “one-for-one” system was not reducing wait times. Other examples, from Australia to Germany, show that parallel private-public healthcare systems do not decrease wait-times. In fact, they actually increase wait-times for most people who cannot afford to pay for private care.  

The Saskatchewan Party’s privatization of MRI services is part of a larger effort to privatize parts of the province’s public healthcare. Premier Scott Moe is not alone in these efforts. Conservatives across the country are moving in the same direction. In Alberta, Jason Kenney is expanding private, for-profit delivery of medical surgeries. Doug Ford in Ontario has also been linked to backroom players working to undermine Canada’s public healthcare system.

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