May 15, 2017 1:58 am
Updated: May 16, 2017 6:11 pm

Peter Watts: How NAFTA negotiations could impact Canadian health care

Janice Brown of Englewood, Colo., holds up a placard during a protest outside the office of U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., over the health care overhaul bill up for a vote in the U.S. House Thursday, May 4, 2017, in Aurora, Colo.

AP Photo/David Zalubowski

I had an interesting conversation with Dr. Danielle Martin on Sunday morning on the Alberta Morning News. The good doctor, who is vice-president at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, was talking about the relationship between the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Canadian health care.

“When NAFTA was first negotiated, provisions were put in the agreement to protect Canadian health care from the influences of insurance companies,” she told me.

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READ MORE: Canada to remain ‘firm’ as Donald Trump eyes massive NAFTA changes

“If strong provisions that exclude health care from free trade are not maintained and in fact strengthened, in any renegotiated trade agreement, American insurance companies and health care delivery organizations could claim the right to a Canadian private health care market.”

“Given what’s happening to the U.S. market in the wake of the Trump drive to repeal Obamacare, private insurers may be looking for new markets.”

I’m not suggesting that private health care would be a bad thing – far from it. But the decision on its place in Canadian health care should be made on this side of the border. And yet, it could become part of a trade deal. You may get broader hints on this topic if you follow President Donald Trump on Twitter.

Hear the full interview below:

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