Medicare Under Attack – Federal Politicians ducking as Quebec Wants $25 per Visit fee – Cornwall Ontario – April 2, 2010

Cornwall ON – Medicare is under attack, but do most Canadians know it?   With the next Federal Election getting closer it seems that political parties are jockeying for position including dealing with outbursts from provincial governments.

The latest outburst is coming from the Charest Government in Quebec.     LINK

The just-unveiled Quebec plan to introduce a user fee for medical appointments signals the official opening of a new round of medicare debate.

The Quebec government admits that its planned fee — due to take effect in a couple of years but included in this week’s hard-hitting provincial budget — could fly in the face of the Canada Health Act.

Desperate politicians do desperate things.    Stephen Harper, our current Prime Minister certainly doesn’t hide the fact that he will not be the protector of Medicare as it was intended and should be.

Michael Ignatieff seems to almost be supporting a two tiered Medicare system when not busy trying to make sure that Helena Guergis loses her job before he loses his.

Even the NDP have not been terribly vociferous in defending Medicare of late.

The problems facing the Medicare system are quite clear even if you don’t have a bunch of letters in front of your name or are an economist.   It’s poor infrastructure.  It’s the influence of the drug companies and insurance companies and pressures from the US with NAFTA hanging over the whole situation.


And, leaving aside explicit measures in this week’s Quebec budget, doesn’t Charest’s startling proposal to charge patients $25 per doctor’s visit, however hypothetical, at least merit an expression of mild disagreement?

Apparently not. “In our opinion,” Ignatieff said, “what matters is maintaining universality of access to the system. We believe, and it’s a question of details, that Quebec’s propositions conform to the Canada Health Act.” How’s that for a stirring call to arms?

I understand how politics work and frankly it frightens me that the future of our country and our health is being used as ping pong balls in the upcoming Federal election.    We as Canadians truly need to educate ourselves and realize that the biggest political issue facing us with the biggest impact on the lives of ourselves and loved ones is the implementation of medical services.

In an even odder twist Josee Legault wrote in the Montreal Gazette:

Ironically, in the meantime, Quebecers will be left looking to the Canada Health Act and the rest of Canada to persuade their own premier to back down.

But cutting taxes is what conservative-minded politicians do. It’s a “vision” thing. When they do, public services get starved and the private-sector profits from increased outsourcing in the delivery of services. We see it in the health-care system.

This classic conservative cycle is called “starving the beast.” Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman described it this way in his New York Times column: Politicians engage “in a game of bait and switch. Rather than proposing unpopular spending cuts, Republicans would push through popular tax cuts, with the deliberate intention of worsening the government’s fiscal position. Spending cuts could then be sold as a necessity rather than a choice … And the deficit came.”

What do you think Canada?    What can we do to save Medicare?   You can post your comments below.

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  1. I just wonder if anything is being done to address inefficiency in hospitals, corruption, productivity loss and financial costs of bullying within the medical system — when I had to put my father in hospital in Grande Prairie in Alberta, due to dementia; and move him first to a veteran’s hospital in Calgary, then to 2 other hospitals, I found the lack of co-operation and communication between hospitals to be shocking. Surely this affects the bottom line? I remember a female Liberal MP who was trying to tackle the issue of medical disciplines being competitive with one another, and downright bullying.

    So – wouldn’t it pay to tackle issues from the ground up? Can anyone do a study on how hospitals co-operate, whether they do or do not, and how much of a problem bullying is within the medical establishment? How much money is lost because of inefficiency in big hospitals — it seems that they’re attacking the system without actually trying to make it healthy.

  2. …maybe we need to have more babies then there’ll be more people in the working age demographic to support the elderly who need all these services?

  3. From the article: “Ironically, in the meantime, Quebecers will be left looking to the Canada Health Act and the rest of Canada to persuade their own premier to back down.”

    Why is that “ironic?” Quebecers are Canadians even if 30% of them would rather not be. Are you thick?

    Their premier is a proud Canadian and fights the seperatists.

  4. Federal and Provinicial are not addressing issues with Indian populations either. Ontario just gave a huge payout to keep a couple quiet from Caladonia, and our bridge issue for example.

    Quebec gets 8 billion of the 14 billion dollar equalization payments and they need to charge their taxpayers more?

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