The Alberta inquiry into queue-jumping in the province’s health system appears to have run into a wall of memory loss.
There are defenders of the status quo who view any suggestions for reform with suspicion, but every aspect of our modern society is subjected to continuous review, change and improvement. The same process should be applied to hospital funding in Canada. If we are to improve we must change what we are doing.
The Alberta government’s legislative agenda for the new session of the Legislature was announced this week. What should we expect from it?
The government’s plan includes an education bill (reincarnate), a bill to amend electoral law and a bill to amend municipal electoral rules as well as one with guarantees for buyers of new homes.
But it may be the subthemes in and around some of the proposed bills that are likely to dominate the debate during. The Leader of the Official Opposition, Danielle Smith, has already served notice to the Redford government, for example, that her team will be looking closely into the questions of health, finance, and ethics. In that very context, they will be watching the pension issue as well as the commission of inquiry on healthcare wait times and queue-jumping.
Gunter rightly argues that Canada should look to other models around the world, such as that found in the Netherlands, to find policy models that ensure universal access while avoiding the lengthy wait times for care that exist far too often in Canada.
The 2010 edition of the Euro-Canada Health Consumer Index 2010, from the Frontier Centre for Public Policy and Sweden-based Health Consumer Powerhouse, found that, despite the fourth highest per-capita spending, Canadian health care ranks 25th compared with 33 European countries, every one of which features a mixture of public and private spending.
In the Spanish region of Valencia private companies run a quarter of the hospitals and primary care services. They cost 20 per cent less per patient than their state-run competitors, yet have maintained clinical quality.
Thousands of Canadians suffer in pain while waiting for surgery or diagnosis. Some die. The Chaoulli judgment explained how this suffering is caused by the government’s “virtual monopoly” over health care. The Charter’s section 7 right to life, liberty and security of the person is violated by laws that force people to suffer on government waiting lists and deny the right to access health care outside the government’s monopoly.