No surprise: BC’s choice is public-sector MRIs

Many employees – unionized and non-unionized – enjoy health-care benefits they can use to access many forms of health care through private-sector plans, clinics and providers.

Public-sector unions have been very successful in negotiating such benefits for their members, giving them choice when the government-run system fails to meet their needs.

For example, the collective agreement between Alberta Health Services [AHS] and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees [AUPE] for “General Support Services” includes a supplementary health plan, a dental plan, short-term and long-term disability coverage, and a flexible spending account of $600 annually.

The account provides: “[c] Reimbursement for health and dental expenses that are eligible medical expenses in accordance with the Income Tax Act and are not covered by benefit plans specified in Article 31.01[b] and [c] of the Collective Agreement.”

At the same time, unions have been among the most vocal supporters of maintaining the public-sector monopoly for hospital and physician services, and they are among the most vociferous opponents of private-sector health care and patient choice.

No surprise, therefore, that the Hospital Employees’ Union [HEU], a public-sector union, and the union-centric BC Health Coalition support the BC government’s recent decision to add 37,000 public-sector MRIs by the end of 2019.

No surprise, either, that the coalition condemns “a market for private MRI clinics to flourish”; and it’s also no surprise that neither the coalition nor HEU referenced the sustainability of Medicare and the burden on taxpayers.  

HEU is one of 11 unions that signed a collective agreement for the “health services & support facilities subsector” with the Health Employers Association of BC. It provides union members with financial support for private-sector health care provided by acupuncturists, chiropractors, dentists, message therapists, naturopathic physicians, physiotherapists, podiatrists and registered nurses.   

And, no surprise that the BC government had the choice of offering British Columbians choice — and chose not to do so. What happens to those still waiting in line for a MRI?



Canada’s government-run health care system – Medicare -- is a monopoly that prohibits private hospital and private physician care. Medicare is a subpar performer, ranking 10th among 11 advanced countries. Canadians deserve much better! Patients deserve timely access to quality care and choice of hospitals and physicians. Taxpayers deserve much more value for their tax dollars.

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