You know things are bad when the best you can say is “at least it hasn’t gotten any worse.” That, essentially, is the main takeaway from the Canadian Institute for Health Information’s updated report on wait times for healthcare in Canada.
As those who have ever endured painful months, or even years, waiting for medically necessary treatment have discovered, all the new cash poured into Canadas health care system in recent years has made little difference.
Last month the Canadian Institute of Health Information [CIHI] released a report indicating that about 80 per cent of patients received treatment in priority clinical areas (cancer, heart, diagnostic imaging, joint replacement and sight restoration) within targeted benchmarks. But a closer examination suggests that it is certainly no reason for celebration.
When it comes to health care, all three of Canadas major federal political parties are drinking the same Kool-Aid. All three say they will maintain the six per cent annual increases to health care transfer payments to the provinces past 2014. But does it not seem odd they want to spend more money on a problem that has little to do with how much we spend, especially at a time when Ottawa can ill afford it?
When it comes to Canadian health care, everyone seems to agree our system has problems and needs to be improved. But the discussion always seems to end there, with any new idea for reform immediately discarded by vote-sensitive politicians and vested special interest groups.
When it comes to healthcare, Canada remains out of step with the rest of the industrialized world. Over the past 15 years or so, many countries with universal access health programs have been increasingly tapping into the competitive market for solutions to their health care woes. Others, like Japan and Switzerland, have always depended on competitive health care markets to deliver access to care regardless of ability to pay. Unfortunately in Canada, governments of all stripes remain steadfast in their dismissal of private sector solutions.
In this weeks Throne Speech, the BC government suggested the Canada Health Act be modified to allow the implementation of sensible health policies guided by the more successful health care models in Europe. This statement follows several similar ones from the Alberta government next door. The provincial governments of Alberta and BC seem to have latched on to a reality that others would rather not recognize: the single greatest barrier to the creation of a world-class health care system in Canada is the Act itself.
In comparison, conspiracy theories about the assassination of President Kennedy are small beer. The only folks involved in JFK`s assassination were the FBI, the mob, the Teamsters Union, the CIA, Fidel Castro, Lyndon Johnson, global communism, the Freemasons, Elvis Presley (apparently jealous about JFK`s fling with Marylyn Monroe), Jack Ruby and a few other folks, possibly including Lee Harvey Oswald.