FACT CHECK ON BRIAN DAY, MD: Rebutting the New CMA President's False Medicare Claims
McBane, Michael, CCPA Monitor
Dr. Brian Day took over as President of the Canadian Medical Association last month. His claims about Canada's health care system have been widely reported in the media, but are not supported by the evidence.
Dr. Day is President and CEO of Cambie Surgeries Corporation in Vancouver and is an outspoken advocate of private, for-profit medicine. He called on the Romanow Commission in 2002 to repeal the Canada Health Act, increase privatization and contracting-out, introduce user fees, and de-insure services.
The following is a fact check on claims frequently made by Dr. Day.
Claim: "The Canadian health system has been ranked 30th in the world by the World Health Organization."
Fact: The 2000 World Health Organization study presented a misleading representation of health care systems, including Canada's. The WHO has since abandoned this ranking system because of seriously flawed methodology.
Claim: "At $4,400 per capita [Canada] is the most expensive of all countries that offer 'universal' coverage."
Fact: Canada's per capita spending in 2004 was US$3,165. It is above the OECD average, but below Norway, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. The U.S. spent $6,100 per capita on health care in 2004.
Claim: "In Canada, 65% of sick children wait a 'medically unacceptable' period of time."
Fact: There is no evidence for this claim.
Claim: "The assertion that our single-payer system is administratively efficient is hogwash."
Fact: Before Canada introduced a single-payer system, spending in Canada and the U.S. was escalating in parallel. After 30 years of single-payer administration, Canada now spends almost 50% less than Americans spend (9.9% of GDP in Canada vs. 15.2% in the U.S.) while providing equal or better care. All Canadians are covered while the U.S. has 46 million citizens with no coverage.
Claim: "In our country a dog can get a hip replacement in under a week, but a human may wait two years."
Fact: Access to veterinary care for animals is based on ability to pay. Dogs are put down if their owners can't pay. Access to care should not be based on ability to pay.
Claim: "All other models of universal health care differed from the Canadian model in one fundamental way: They did not exclude competition from the private sector. Canada shared this distinction with just one other country - North Korea!"
Fact: 30% of what Canadians spend on health care is private expenditure. Canada is below the OECD average on public health care spending. The argument that private for-profit health care does not play a significant role in Canada is false.
Claim: "At the [Cambie Surgery] Centre we spend only 30% of our gross revenue on wages and salaries, compared with 70% in the public hospitals, yet we pay our nurses more. …