Canada’s top doctor singled out New Democrat Leader Jack Layton Sunday for “hypocrisy” for undergoing hernia treatment at a private Toronto medical clinic.
But Dr. Brian Day, president-elect of the Canadian Medical Association, was quick to note Layton is in good company.
Former prime ministers Paul Martin, Jean Chrétien and Joe Clark have also been treated at private medical clinics, Day told the annual meeting of the Canadian Science Writers’ Association.
And he says union leader Buzz Hargrove, president of the Canadian Autoworkers, proved a master at “cue jumping” when he got in for an MRI within 24 hours of injuring his leg.
“Even I couldn’t do that,” said Day, the outspoken and media savvy orthopedic surgeon who takes over in August as president of the CMA, which represents 62,000 physicians across Canada.
Day, who will serve a one-year term, has been busy honing his arguments — and anecdotes — for what is sure to be a lively year for the normally staid medical organization.
Day, dubbed “Dr. Profit” and the “Darth Vader of health care” by his critics, is a well-known proponent of private clinics and has been operating the highly successful Cambie Surgery Centre in Vancouver since 1996.
In an hour-long speech Sunday, he said Canada’s health-care system is inefficient, run by a bloated and expanding bureaucracy, and governed by political leaders who are hypocrites when it comes to their own personal health care.
He flashed up pictures of Layton and the prime ministers who have railed against the evils of private medical clinics, saying they have visited private clinics for treatment in recent years.
“We need some honesty,” says Day, who argues it is impossible for the politicians to deliver on their promises of equal access to health care for everyone, for free. Day says the public has the mistaken impression that he is out to destroy the public health-care system and adopt a U.S.-style system that has left millions of Americans without health coverage. “No doctor in Canada I know wants a U.S. system,” said Day.
But he said the status quo in Canada is “not acceptable.” Escalating costs, a myriad of new and often costly medical technologies and drugs, and aging baby boomers are putting huge and growing strains on the system.