Whose Healthcare?

Challenging the Corporate Struggle to Rule Our System

Hugh Armstrong, et al.

Most Canadians reject a private health care system that is driven by the accumulation of profit, that limits people’s access to the size of their wallets and provides health in exchange for the risk of financial debt. Affordable public health care – for one’s own family and as a shared right with others – is something worth defending.

Defending public health care is not enough. It doesn’t prevent a slower ‘death by a thousand cuts.’ Indignant government campaign speeches against privatization only lead to more subtle forms of privatization – privatization by stealth. Even where privatizations are curbed, the rules under which hospitals are run are transformed so they reflect the thinking and practice of competitiveness and commercial values, not social values. Cutbacks may be checked today, but revived tomorrow after tax cuts or an economic downturn lead to budget deficits that ‘demand’ new restraints. Any problems in the health care system that do occur lead to public frustrations which are then politically manipulated to develop support for ‘repairs’ and ‘innovations’ (based on giving private corporations greater control over our health).

Socialist Interventions Pamphlet No. 4 – December 2005.

Sam Gindin was research director of the Canadian Auto Workers from 1974–2000. He is co-author (with Leo Panitch) of The Making of Global Capitalism (Verso), and co-author with Leo Panitch and Steve Maher of The Socialist Challenge Today, the expanded and updated American edition (Haymarket).

Hugh Armstrong is Distinguished Research Professor, Professor Emeritus of Social Work and Political Economy, at Carleton University.