Election – No Time to Discuss Serious Issues

Commentary, Energy, Les Routledge

The former head of the Bank of Canada indicated that Canadians have to engage in a tough round of discussions about rising health care costs.

Canadians need to have a discussion about rapidly rising health-care costs, and soon, said David Dodge, former head of the Bank of Canada. Just not now.

Among the topics he suggests for discussion are:

  • a reduction in other public services,
  • higher taxes,
  • more fees for service through co-payment or
  • delisting of services currently publicly financed, or degradation of services, longer wait times and falling quality.

I can think of a couple more items such as more use of foreign trained personnel within the system and expanded use of specialized private service providers in Canada and abroad.

Canada’s workforce is aging and it will be challenging to develop enough trained people to replace retiring the retiring baby boom over the next few years.  As a country, we need to confront that reality and start to look at immigration and recognition of foreign training credentials as a means to address labour force success pressure.  Perhaps our professional occupation bodies should be challenged to extend their accreditation efforts to include selected education programs in target countries such as the Philippines, India and the Caribbean.

When Canada is ready to have a serious discussion about the future of health care funding, perhaps we can also look at the future of university funding.  For example, is there a point of diminishing returns from encouraging an every expanding rate of participation in university education through public sector funding?

I am one of the first to put forward an arguments in support of Arts and Science Education as well as talent development in the creative arts.  However, if the question is one of deciding where public sector funding should prioritize elective joint surgery or the training of additional political scientists, I wonder if our country could make do with a fewer of the latter.  Is there a point where the country should consider capping public sector funding of ever increasing rates student enrollment in universities?

In the professional programs of several institutions, they have migrated toward a full cost recovery model of operation.  Perhaps that approach where public funds are targeted as providing student financial assistance instead of block funding to the institutions needs to be considered.  Again, what is a higher priority for public sector spending, offering timely access to health services such as cancer, cardiac and vision care or subsidizing the training more lawyers, accountants, and bankers?