Questions about privatizing health care

The B.C. government’s drive to privatize public services and assets, and to do so through back room deals such as the rumoured sell-off of the British Columbia Buildings Corporation, seems to be reaching into areas one would have thought are just too taboo, even for this government.

Rumours have bubbled up about the possible sale of the operation of the Medical Services Plan and Pharmacare.

Since the B.C. government has broken its promise to be transparent and accountable, it is difficult to gauge the truth of these rumours. The rumours seem to be more than idle chat, though. On March 6, 2004, the BCGEU placed an advertisement in the Times Colonist. According to the website, the BCGEU ad stated:

“The Gordon Campbell Liberals plan to sell off the Medical Services Plan and PharmaCare to either IBM or Maximus – both ‘American’ multi-national corporations – by August 31.

“The government will give an American-owned corporation access to private records on every British Columbian. This includes health treatment, pharmacy, income tax, mental health and criminal records, as well as records from the ministries of Children and Family Development and Human Resources.

“A New York expert on the new USA Patriot Act says this could even give the FBI access to our private medical record. The Patriot Act allows the FBI to demand corporations secretly hand over medical records and other personal information of innocent people.

“And legal precedents suggest even if the information is held by a Canadian subsidiary, the American parent company could be required to hand it over.

“Our personal medical information should not be made available to private corporations that don’t answer to our privacy laws. It should remain in the care of public employees who are bound by an oath of office to keep it confidential.

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