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Local doctor vies for top CMA job

After a succession of pro-privatization heads of the Canadian Medical Association, Ottawa’s Jeff Turnbull hopes to change things.

After a succession of pro-privatization heads of the Canadian Medical Association, Ottawa’s Jeff Turnbull hopes to change things.

“Privatization is not the answer,” says Turnbull, one of three doctors vying to be next in line to lead the CMA.

Turnbull, chief of staff at the Ottawa Hospital, warns that allowing more private care will simply drain the public system of people and resources, leaving it less able to help those who can’t afford private care.

“It will be the most vulnerable who will be hurt the most,” he says. “It will be two-tier medicine.”

The challengers are Brampton family doctor John Tracey and Deborah Hellyer, who is the director of the pulmonary rehabilitation program at Windsor Regional Hospital.

Hellyer would continue the CMA’s growing support for a bigger role for private care in medicine.

“Can we afford to go back to a fully public system? I’m not sure if we can,” says Hellyer, who is also a faculty member at the Schulich School of Medicine at the University of Western Ontario. “But we have to ensure that the patients out there receive the care that they need.”

Tracey, who has held a number of OMA and CMA positions, is calling for the Canada Health Act to be “reopened and modernized” to ensure the survival of medicare. “Job One is that we argue for sustainability in the system,” he said.

Earlier this month, current CMA president Robert Ouellet said that Canada should adopt a European model of mixed private-public medicine. Ouellet will be succeeded this summer by Anne Doig. The winner of today’s election will succeed Doig.

 
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