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Romanow Commission Wastes Time, Money, and Lives

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Release Date: November 28, 2002
The answers that Roy Romanow has provided today are identical to those he provided when Premier of Saskatchewan and in his preliminary musings as the Commission got underway, says Michael Walker, executive director of The Fraser Institute, in response to the report delivered today by the Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada.

"In short, the Commission concludes that more taxpayer money is needed, that more government regulation of health care is needed and that private provision of all health care services should be effectively banned. In the meantime more heart surgery candidates died on the waiting list," says Walker.

The $15 million cost of the Commission could have eliminated the bypass surgery waiting lists in Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan combined, or all of Ontario and the Atlantic provinces, notes Walker.

In its ideological rush to judgment, the Romanow Commission failed to consider key facts about Canadian health care:

1. That Canada spends more, on an age-adjusted basis, than any of the industrialized countries in the world which provide government-sponsored universal access health care systems. Since many of these countries which spend less have better health outcomes money cannot be the problem . (Figure 1)

2. The Canadian provinces which spend more don't get more health services delivery. More money has not reduced health care waiting lists in the provinces that spend more per capita, on an age adjusted basis . (Figure 2)

3. The countries which do better than Canada on health care outcomes including France (number one in the world according to the WHO), Sweden, Japan, and Australia all spend less, but have different health care policies than Canada. Romanow ignores the policies in the top performing countries.

These top performing countries have:

· User Fees… Romanow says no to user fees.

· The top performing countries have alternative private health care provision…Romanow says no to private insurance.

· The top performing countries have private delivery of public health services…Romanow says no to private care.

· The top performing countries have private for-profit health care services…Romanow says no to for-profit diagnostic and surgery centers.

· No country in the world has copied Canada's health care model…Romanow says we must preserve the Canadian model.

4. Manitoba has a well functioning pharmacare program with means-tested user fees… Romanow says we need a new untested and unproven system managed by Ottawa.

"As Premier of Saskatchewan Roy Romanow led his province to the longest health care waiting lists in the country. Canadians should place little confidence in a report which extends by compulsion to all of the provinces the failed attitudes and policies applied in Saskatchewan," says Walker.

Instead of more federal mandates and regulations, Canadians need more freedom to explore different health care models and methods. They need more of their spending power left in their hands to spend as they see fit on their own health care. Canadians need the freedom to spend their own money to buy access to the accelerated treatments that an increasing number of government agencies like Workers Compensation Boards, the military, and the RCMP are buying from private clinics.

The Romanow Commission produces no new insights but rehashes the prejudices and preconceptions that have brought Canadian health care to its current difficulties. It does not earn, nor deserve, the consideration of those seriously searching for solutions to current problems.