Tag Archives: Dr. Danielle Martin

Thank you Danielle for reminding us what this country is worth

It wasn’t one of her three big ideas to improve health care, but it was a brief moment of brilliance.

During Monday’s RamsayTalks at the University of Toronto, Dr. Danielle Martin had just been asked by the Rotman School’s Mark Stabile how she would achieve her goal to expand public drug coverage when there was a declining appetite for deficits or taxes.

Her initial comment was “please, somebody tax me.” Given the creation of Doctors for Fair Taxation (their link is on the right) that part of the message is not entirely new nor is it a surprise that Martin would say it. It was the phrase that followed that was far more interesting: “I think our country is worth it.”

At that moment it sounded warmly nostalgic.

Conservatives like Stephen Harper and Tim Hudak want us to know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. “Worth” just doesn’t come into play.

Conservatives like to wrap themselves all around the flag and the military. They talk about the ultimate sacrifice young men and women pay with their lives to preserve our freedom. Yet when we ask them to simply pay taxes so that no Canadian is left behind in our economy, well the hypocrisy becomes self-evident. Young people are expected to give up their lives. Conservatives will only grudgingly part with their silver.

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Significant risks face Ontario’s plan to shift hospital services to private clinics

Wednesday night's panel on speciality clinics -- Natalie Mehra, Dr. Ahmed Bayoumi, Dr. Danielle Martin and Dr. John Lavis.

Wednesday night’s panel on speciality clinics — Natalie Mehra, Dr. Ahmed Bayoumi, Dr. Danielle Martin and Dr. John Lavis.

Dr. Danielle Martin looks uncomfortable discussing the government’s recent plan to move hospital services into so-called specialty clinics.

On the one hand the VP of Toronto’s Women’s College Hospital sees patients every day who she believes could be better served in a community-based setting. On the other, this transfer of services out of hospitals to local clinics runs many risks, including what Martin acknowledges could be “an erosion of Medicare.”

Speaking Wednesday night at a forum organized by the Medical Reform Group at OPSEU’s Toronto Wellesley Membership Centre, Martin admits that in many ways “the horse is already out of the barn.”

That is not in dispute.

Ontario already has 939 independent health facilities; of which 904 provide specific diagnostic tests such as diagnostic imaging and nuclear medicine tests. The remaining 35 provide surgical or therapeutic procedures such as abortions, laser dermatology, and opthamology. Almost all of these independent health facilities are run on a for-profit basis.

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Tonight: Medical Reform Group roundtable to examine controversial policy

The government’s decision to have hospitals compete with independent health facilities for the right to deliver services ranging from cataracts to colonoscopies is among the most controversial ideas to emerge recently from the Wynne government.

The Ontario Health Coalition recently completed a campaign that gathered more than 56,000 postcards expressing opposition to the plan.

Doctors in rural communities are worried that losing these services could endanger local hospitals.

Yesterday doctors in Midland said removing cataract surgeries from the Georgian Bay General Hospital and contracting it to a private clinic in Barrie or elsewhere could mean the end of opthamology services in the area.

“Removing cataract procedures from our small hospital would impact allied services,” writes Dr. Martin McNamara, the hospital’s chief of staff, in a recent public letter to the LHIN.

Doctors fear that this could be the beginning of the stripping of local services that could result in the demise of the hospital.

Is it possible to be in favour of a more robust community sector without threatening the stability and scope of services at Ontario’s hospitals? Or do community-based services have to inevitably come from Ontario’s already struggling hospital sector?

Wednesday night (April 9) the Medical Reform Group is hosting a panel discussion in Toronto on whether community-based specialty clinics can deliver better outcomes for patients, providers or the health system as a whole.

Moderated by Dr. Ahmed Bayoumi, the panel includes Dr. John Lavis, Director-McMaster Health Forum; Dr. Danielle Martin, VP Medical Affairs, Women’s College Hospital; and Natalie Mehra, Director of the Ontario Health Coalition.

Dr. Danielle Martin.

Dr. Danielle Martin.

While a regular meeting of the Medical Reform Group, others are welcome to attend this free event. To do so, please RSVP to medicalreform@sympatico.ca or call 416-787-5246. Space is limited.

The Medical Reform Group is a voluntary organization of physicians, residents, and medical students committed to universal high quality health care for all Canadians.

The panel discussion takes place Wednesday, April 9 between 7-9 pm at OPSEU’s Wellesley Membership Centre (lower level), 31 Wellesley Street East (across from the Wellesley subway station). Please be on time — doors will lock after panel begins.

Martin scores big on frustration of Canadians waiting to see our health system defended in the U.S.

It must have truly hurt The National Post to admit that Canadian doctor Danielle Martin “held her own” before a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing earlier this month on comparative health systems.

Albeit the NP’s Tristan Hopper did say she did so “snidely,” which is a bit much for anyone who actually viewed the video and saw the professional demeanor Martin maintained throughout the questioning.

Other media were less reserved, calling Dr. Martin a hero for speaking truth to power in Washington or that she gave Washington “a lesson on Canadian health care.” Even the National Post’s headline writer called it a “smack down.” At Salon they went as far as saying Martin had made anti-Obamacare senator Richard Burr appear a “buffoon.”

Martin is best known to us as the former Chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, so her ability to speak knowledgeably about Canada’s health system came as no surprise.

While Martin didn’t try and gloss over the problems, she was forthright in asserting the single-payer model of health care was not to blame.

When Republican Senator Burr asked how many Canadians die on waiting lists each year, Martin snapped back that she didn’t know, “but I know there are 45,000 in America who die waiting because they don’t have insurance at all.”

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Debate should be about better public care, not defending status quo

Dr. Danielle Martin speaking at the Students for Medicare conference April 27.

Dr. Danielle Martin speaking at the Students for Medicare conference April 27.

Dr. Danielle Martin calls it a “trap.”

Opponents of Medicare argue that privatization or two-tier health care is the answer to the problems that face Canada’s health system.

The trap is to get caught defending the status quo in that debate.

Chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, Martin argued at Saturday’s Students for Medicare conference that we should be advocating for a better public system, not defending one that shows mediocre results for what Canadians are spending.

“Who thinks long waits are acceptable?” she asks the room.

Martin argues that what is driving cost is not aging or population growth, but increased utilization of the health care system by all ages.

“More docs, diagnostics and drugs – are we any healthier as a result?” she says.

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Pharmacare increasingly on the agenda – two upcoming events

In 2007 we attended SOS Medicare II, a high-profile national conference in Regina looking at the unfinished Medicare agenda.

Tommy Douglas’ original vision for Medicare extended far beyond what we have in Canada today. Once the envy of the world, our Medicare system is now wanting compared to other developed nations which have a much broader scope of public coverage.

Canada is drawing closer to the United States than Europe in the percentage of our health care system that remains totally private. The evidence is clear – the U.S. system is the most costly in the world and fails to deliver good population-based health outcomes. We spend far less than our neighbours to the south, live longer and have a much better infant mortality rate. If we want a truly more sustainable health care system, then perhaps it is time to start looking at expanding public coverage instead of delisting more services.

This year Pharmacare – public coverage for prescription drugs – is getting particular attention due to increased interest by the provinces. Canada is an outlier among developed nations for our lack of a universal Pharmacare program. While Conservatives would scoff at the cost of such a program, the reality is Canadians would stand to save substantially on health care costs with its introduction.

In February we were in Vancouver for Pharmacare 2020, a two-day event that involved a cross-section of patient advocates, pharmaceutical companies, insurance providers, academics and labour. (Read our stories here.)

Two more events are now on the horizon:

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When the shift hits the fan

Dr. Danielle Martin has practically catalogued the various attacks on Canada’s Medicare system over the last two decades. The Chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare says that while the arguments continually “shift,” the prescription from the right is always the same – two tier health care and privatization is the answer no matter the question.

She says this shift is part of an ongoing attack that has never resonated with Canadian values, but shows signs of making inroads with Canadian politicians.

At first it was the argument that the rich should have the right to use their money how they see fit and buy their way to the front of the line. Clearly Canadians saw the unfairness and lack of equity in that argument. Then the privateers argued the public system was broken, until the 2004 federal-provincial accord brought down wait times across Canada. Then the story became an aging population would break the bank, until health care economists noted aging only accounted for less than one per cent of health care cost increases, well within the normal capacity of economic growth. Now the latest argument is that health care is unsustainable and about to consume provincial budgets.

Martin tells a story that many progressive health care advocates have been using recently. A family of four sends a child away to university in another province. The remaining child is told they are no longer sustainable as a result. The parents argue that the child used to eat one-fourth of the family food. With the other child gone, now they are consuming one-third of the dinners. When someone argues health care is taking money away from other services, this is essentially what they are arguing. Health care is not unsustainable – tax cuts are.

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