Private Profit in Canada’s Medical Laboratories
If Stephen Harper’s reluctance to wrench open the long-dormant health-care debate in this country leaves you puzzled, don’t be: he reads the polls, too, after all. The occasional capitulation by the courts and Health Canada aside, talk of tiers and triple bypasses has mostly dampened since Mr. Harper’s NCC days, even as health costs have ballooned still further on his watch. That said, Ross Sutherland does not content himself here with a garden-variety meditation on Canada’s appetite-or lack of such-for health-care reform. As he observes, the Medicare debate “is really closed… [t]here is less unanimity on the question of private delivery.” What follows is one of the tidiest defenses of public, not-for-profit health care that I have read. At base a study of the rise and impact of for-profit medical labs in Canada, False Positive is well attuned to the tug-of-war that is federalism: with a focus on Ontario, Sutherland traces the rise of public labs through the advent of Medicare, to the neoliberal turn and the wholesale handover of the Bob Rae/Mike Harris years. For those versed in politial economy, it follows a familiar (if ever-alarming) trajectory: privatization couched in the language of efficiency and responsiveness, swiftly made over into a vulgar push for market share; to mergers and monopolies; to escalating costs, declining services and the oligopolists’s aversion to new tchnology. The author is equally at ease examining theoretical underpinnings as piecing together empirical foundations, and gives just enough of a whiff of in-house politics to lend this the feel of a long-needed expose.-Dylan Roberts, Canadian Dimension, Volume 45 No3, May/June 2011.