Healthcare, Healthcare, a bit more Healtcare – Editorial by Jamie Gilcig – June 22, 2011 – Cornwall Ontario

Cornwall ON – Healthcare, Healthcare, Healthcare.   There is no issue as important in Canada right now.  It’s about our identity; our sovereignty, and frankly it’s about who we are and how we treat each other.

It’s also about money and power and when those two get together it can be a very bumpy ride.    The province of Ontario yesterday issued an edict suggesting that they will be targeting  private billing for services in Canada’s largest province.

That’s a good thing.    Privatization is creeping from the shadows (and in many cases in the light of day) into our daily lives.   It’s artificial.   Create the circumstances where people demand it and it happens.     Ontario saved an awful lot of money for example by doing away with kick backs to pharmacists and over charging of generic drugs.

While making amazing sense and saving the taxpayer and the system billions drug companies reacted by not producing some very important drugs and creating artificial shortages.

To give some of you a hint of what happens when medical care is privatized I’ll share the story of James Verone of North Carolina.    James worked for a major company for nearly 20 years before losing his job, and of course, his health benefits.

James walked into a bank with a hold up note.  He asked for $1 and then went and sat down patiently waiting for police to come and arrest him so that he could be treated for his various ailments.    You see prisoners in the US get better healthcare than the uninsured.

That my fellow Canadians is called desperation.   Fear; cold fear; the kind that a person feels when they know they’re not well and have no place to go for help.  The kind a child feels when they’re hurt and want to find their mommy or daddy.

There’s a saying that a society can be viewed by how it takes care of it’s weakest links.   We in Ontario and Canada are not the only country struggling with the burden of the Boomer generation and rising health care costs; but we do have choices which we have to start using.

We have to start to demand our politicians tackle the health care system and make it accountable and sustainable.   We need to demand cost sense whether it be what we pay for services; how things are accounted for, and even yes, how much we pay our medical staff if necessary.    We need to listen to patients.  We need to listen to voters, and we really need to listen to those that work in the front lines delivering those services.

We need to reform healthcare before we become James Verone.

We need dignified home care instead of sitting in hallways with our hind ends sticking out of dressing gowns.   We need family doctors.  We need prevention instead of acute care for ills that should never have become acute.

We need a National program to initiate true savings.  We need our governments to stand up to big drug companies and big insurance companies.   We need to make sure orphan drugs are not….orphaned.

We need to stand up for ourselves; our families, our friends, and for each other.

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Best Western


  1. Well written article Jamie but a few points

    Jamie Jamie Jamie…tsk tsk tsk, Quebec is Canada’s largest province.
    Private health care is not artifical either its very real or else why would they be investigating.
    You have now stated the obvious regarding what needs to be done with health care, now how do you suggest we carry it out?

  2. I would imagine we would not go from the tax based care to a US system that easily as many changes could be put in place first.
    Between talking with your Doctor about an issue, say a small operation being needed, there are several steps till the procedure is done. Namely, being sent to a specialist for further consultation and possibly the analegiolgist on seperate days.

    Streamling each process should be investigated and with thought of the patient, taking several days off work for appointments and paying for parking or travel can be changed with better planning.

  3. It isn’t only the USA penal system. In Canada, we have millions of hard working folks who cannot find a doctor. In Canadian prisons, they too have doctors, dentists and nurses on duty. Prisoners in Canada also receive 3 square meals a day. Children in poverty in Canada do not have the same rights to health care and a diet recommended by Health Canada. The wealthy Conservatives/Liberals say, so what.
    If you want this to change here in Cornwall and Ontario, give Elaine MacDonald your vote on October 6. This lady is genuine and certainly cares about the good folks of this great city.

  4. If you have interests in our healthcare system, why not ask Jim Brownell? Jamie this would be considered a bit of research journalism for your news probably an amazing boost for both credibility and status.

    Now that Jim is entering his retirement he may be willing to answer questions regarding his time as parliamentary assisted to then George Smitherman Minister of long term health care on matters relating to public health. A position he was granted in 2004.

    I think it would be interesting to hear Jim’s views kind of an insider perspective regarding health care. Maybe he could clarify what the role of the province is and the role the federal government plays in the health care system.

    Why Ontario has OHIP and Alberta has blue cross and Quebec has Regie de l’assurance maladie.

    From the federal perspective I believe they have a mandate that states

    The federal government’s roles in health care include setting and administering national principles for the system under the Canada Health Act; financial support to the provinces and territories; and several other functions, including the delivery of primary and supplementary services to certain groups of people.

    While provincially

    The roles of the provincial and territorial governments in health care include:
    Administration of their health insurance plans;
    Planning and funding of care in hospitals and other health facilities;
    Services provided by doctors and other health professionals;
    Planning and implementation of health promotion and public health initiatives and negotiation of fee schedules with health professionals.

  5. Excellent post and comments.

    I think something needs to be clarified to facilitate this debate. Jamie, what you are talking about as being the most important issue in Canada is provincial/federal medical insurance, not healthcare. They are two very different things. I would suggest that healthcare is not at all important to most Canadians as evidenced by the fact that only a small minority make even the basic lifestyle choices known to produce good health.

    As long as the primary focus of the “healthcare” system is after-the-fact treatment of disease, people will continue to get sicker and the system will get more expensive. That is it’s nature. Only when we value great health and vitality more than the security of knowing we will be able to get “free” treatment, and take actions consistent with that, will we see any significant change. Understand, I am not judging the treatments themselves as good or bad, only what we value and invest in.

    My guess is that not much will change regardless of which party wins the next election. If the likely impending catastrophic economic collapse comes to fruition it is possible our current system will be decimated. Perhaps then a more effective and efficient system will rise from the rubble that will cost us less and produce greater outcomes (actual health as opposed to security). Unfortunately, sometimes individuals and even entire societies require crisis before they will change their ways.

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