With the deadline for filing income tax returns now passed, some Canadians may still be in shock at the size of their tax bills while others no doubt find solace in the belief that their taxes help pay for a high quality universal access health care system.
Having spent itself into a considerable deficit problem, the Alberta government seems to be considering a sales tax as part of its plan to dig provincial finances out of the red (or at least theyre trying to start a discussion to that end). The alternative, were led to believe, is fewer and lower-quality public services due to obligatory spending cuts. A closer look at the facts suggests thats not the only option available.
Instead, they could choose a win-win scenario that improves health care while reducing waste and inefficiency.
The idea that some Albertans might be getting their publicly-funded health care more rapidly than others because of who they happen to be, or who they know, or indeed if they have greater ability to pay, seems to have generated a fair amount of rage. Yet many of those who decry such queue jumping by elites and the politically connected are supporters of the current public monopoly in health care insurance and hospital care delivery, and it is this very structure and the rationing by waiting it entails that is to blame for the situation.
Earlier this year, the Ontario government sparked a fight with the provinces doctors when it announced plans in the government budget to freeze doctors wages. Now the fight is turning to a raging inferno as the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) plans to take the provincial government to court over the issue.
According to the province, the average doctor bill in Ontario was $385,000 last year; about 75 per cent more than in 2003 when the current government took power.
With the turning of the calendar to May, the effort to complete our income tax returns will slowly start to fade from memory.
Last week the Canadian Institute for Health Information lifted the veil of secrecy surrounding the performance of Canadian hospitals with its Canadian Hospital Reporting Project, an interactive web site that measures the performance of Canadian hospitals based on 21 clinical and nine financial indicators.
This project, known by the acronym CHRP, is a bold and much awaited step toward greater patient rights, transparency, and improved health care delivery in Canada.