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NDP to call for emergency debate in House of Commons over private health care

Singh concerned for-profit facilities will poach doctors and nurses away from hospitals
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New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh listens to a question during an availability on Parliament Hill, Thursday, January 19, 2023 in Ottawa. Singh says he will call on the House of a Commons to hold an emergency debate on the privatization of health care. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Federal New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh says he will call on the House of Commons to hold an emergency debate on the privatization of health care.

It’s a top priority for the leader as members of Parliament return to the House Monday following a holiday break.

Singh spent some of that time away holding round table discussions on health care in British Columbia to discuss emergency room overcrowding and worker shortages.

Singh says health care is already understaffed and he believes for-profit facilities will poach doctors and nurses away from hospitals.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government announced earlier this month that it’s moving some procedures to publicly funded, private facilities to address a growing surgery waitlist, which worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan have already made similar moves.

“Health care is already dramatically understaffed, and for-profit facilities will poach doctors and nurses — cannibalizing hospitals, forcing people to wait longer in pain and wracked with anxiety,” Singh said in a statement to The Canadian Press.

The NDP say they’re also concerned that private facilities will upsell patients for brands and services not covered by the province, and tack on extra fees and services.

On Saturday Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said his Liberal government will ensure people don’t use their credit cards for health-care services and health care will remain universally public.

If Singh’s request for an emergency debate is granted it could go ahead as early as Monday evening.

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