April 7, 2011
Shift Health-Care Attitudes
Ralph Coombs, Edmonton Journal, April 6, 2011
Surveys show health care as the major concern of Canadians, but as yet we hear no remedial steps offered by Stephen Harper or Michael Ignatieff.
Canadians watched the former Liberal government adopt an attitude of benign neglect toward the Canada Health Act. We then saw that position adopted and further degraded by the Conservatives.
The provinces chose not to take up the slack and Canadian health care took a big hit. The president of the Canadian Medical Association now describes our system as "deeply troubled," "I've never seen health care at this state" and "we move from one crisis to another."
The Alberta Medical Association holds a similar position.
Albertans experience longer wait times than people in other provinces. On an international scale, the other provinces don't score well either, but Alberta's policies seem designed for us to bring up the rear.
The Frontier Centre for Public Policy report (2010) shows Canada lagging well behind European systems. Within Canada, Alberta is ranked third from last with "poor" ratings given in patient satisfaction, access to doctors, prompt radiation therapy, cataract removal, infant mortality and inhospital hip fractures.
Albertans now see a need for a public inquiry as they learn of deaths in the lineups and muzzled or coerced health-care providers. Remediation needs both national and provincial initiatives. But unless our political leaders change their attitudes about health care, we are not likely to see the action so badly needed.
The Frontier Centre for Public Policy
is an independent public policy think tank whose mission is "to broaden the debate on our future through public policy research and education and to explore positive changes within our public institutions that support economic growth and opportunity."