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I Am Skooter
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
Meanwhile in the forest / In a parliament of trees, The ink will crack and dry all up, But the compass will swing anyways. And we don't need mathematics / And we don't need submarines
— Rheostatics, Northern Wish
May 29, 2010
Writing Honestly about Canadian Healthcare

Jeffrey Simpson writes a rare and honest article about the status of the Canadian healthcare system. I’ve added the emphasis.

We can’t afford to live in health-care denial
The public has been blissfully ignorant that budgets are growing at an unsustainable pace

For some years now, we’ve had a slowly worsening problem of financing health care. Many people, including university health-care “experts” who dominated a lot of public debate about the issue, denied the existence of a problem. The Romanow Commission of 2002 ignored the challenge entirely. Politicians knew a problem was emerging, but were scared to talk about it, fearing public reaction. A few lonely voices tried to alert readers or listeners to the looming problem, but they were derided. The public was blissfully ignorant that health-care budgets were growing at an unsustainable pace.

In the recent past I’ve had conversations with friends in the United States who were excited about President Barak Obama’s recent healthcare, but confused by the mechanics of its implementation. Many of these conversations revolved around what they really wanted which, it turns out, is a classic myth: free healthcare, Canadian style.

I pointed out a few of the many flaws and myths of the Canadian system: it’s not free, most provinces now have a monthly fee (in British Columbia it’s about $57 a month); waiting lists exist and are sometimes long, and those with sufficient wealth are often able to jump the line—I know of one politician who paid for an MRI during an election campaign and kept it quiet; elder care is an increasing problem, and one the system isn’t really dealing with; it’s not a national system in anything other than name, as it’s administered by the provinces who jealously guard their territory.

The single biggest flaw I pointed out, however, is the one that Simpson points out above: Canadians simply aren’t able to have a conversation about healthcare at all, because it’s such a sacred cow that the minute anybody suggests changing it, everybody runs scared. The new American system may be confusing to the average citizen, but at least there was a national conversation about it.

With an aging population bubble and healthcare budgets that are spiralling out of control, the time is now for having a meaningful conversation about the status of our public healthcare and how to fix it.

The only thing that’s preventing the conversation is fear: politicians are afraid of not getting reelected and Canadians are afraid to admit the system is failing.

We need to get over it.

Posted by skooter at 4:20 PM This entry is filed under Canada, Politics.
This entry is tagged: Globe and Mail, Health Care

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