6.09.2005

explanation please?

Will a Canadian or two please explain this to me?
Canadian Court Chips Away at National Health Care
Toronto, June 9

The Canadian Supreme Court struck down a Quebec law banning private medical insurance today, dealing an acute blow to the publicly financed national health care system.

The court stopped short of striking down the constitutionality of the country's vaunted nationwide coverage, but legal experts said the ruling would open the door to a wave of lawsuits challenging the health care system in other provinces.

The system, providing Canadians with free doctor's services that are paid for by taxes, has generally been supported by the public, and is broadly identified with the Canadian national character.

But in recent years, patients have been forced to wait longer for diagnostic tests and elective surgery, while the wealthy and well connected either seek care in the United States or use influence to jump ahead on waiting lists.

The court ruled that the waiting lists had become so long that they violated patients' "liberty, safety and security" under the Quebec charter, which covers about one-quarter of Canada's population.

"The evidence in this case shows that delays in the public health care system are widespread and that in some serious cases, patients die as a result of waiting lists for public health care," the Supreme Court ruled. "In sum, the prohibition on obtaining private health insurance is not constitutional where the public system fails to deliver reasonable services." [Story.]
Why is this a "an acute blow to the publicly financed national health care system"?

The US media loves to bash the Canadian health care system - the New York Times takes every opportunity - so I don't trust the interpretation.

I'm gone for the evening, but I'll read your comments later tonight and tomorrow a.m. The Red Sox are off tonight, so we must get out of the house.

24 comments:

andym said...

I'm no expert, but from what I know the Quebec provincial health care situation is dismal. Doctors are more scarce there than in any other country. People are fed up, and the next provincal election may well be fought/won over it. Although our healh care system is universal, I believe that each province and territory has to buy into the plan, and they are responsible for how the system is funded within the province. If the other provinces perceive today's ruling as anything close to them not having to fund health care any more, the blow will in fact be devastating, not just acute. However, like most issues, Canadians are very mindful of how the US system works/does not work, and would rather fix what we have than to devlve into a payor system ever again. Did that help?

RobfromAlberta said...

It opens the door for some private health care, but I think rumours of the demise of the Canada Health Act are greatly exaggerated. Either way, maybe now people will stop pointing fingers at Alberta and recognize that our health care system is in trouble and some reform is necessary.

Rududu on the road said...

I am still trying to figure it out, I think it will be one of those only time will tell things. I also think Klein wil be all over this, like a fly on a sticky bun.

RobfromAlberta said...

Either way, maybe now people will stop pointing fingers at Alberta...

Hmmm, or maybe not...

I also think Klein wil be all over this, like a fly on a sticky bun.

Anonymous said...

The thing most people are missing with this ruling is that it has absolutly no effect in the rest of canada for 2 reasons:

1. The court ruled it broke the Quebec Constitution, not the Canadian charter of rights and freedoms, so it has no effect on Canada as a whole.

2. Quebec has a "distinct" (pun intended) legal system that works differently then the rest of Canada that is based on the British system.

The ruling just means that the Gov't has to fix the problems with waiting lists and can't just say no to private clinics anymore.

It most certainly does not drive a stake through the heart of the Canada Health Act, but is good in that it is going to force the provinces to come up with a solution.

Peter

G said...

Peter is absolutely correct. I was going to write something similar, but will settle for giving him props instead.

RobfromAlberta said...

One other point, some private health care services already exist in Canada. Before this ruling, patients were required to pay for those services out of their own pocket. This ruling says that system is discriminatory because many people can't afford to pay. Now, many more people will be able to use the private clinics by getting private insurance. Personally, I don't think large numbers of people are going to go out and get private insurance.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

Personally, I think it's a good decision, and since it's limited to Quebec at the moment we'll see how the system works out.

I really feel that a mix of private and public health care works best. Most other countries around the world fall between the Canadian extreme of all public and the American extreme of (yah, yah, there's medicare and medicaid) all private. Actually, if Canada didn't live next door to the U.S., I don't think they would be as scared of a mixed system.

RobfromAlberta said...

Kyle's exactly right, public health care in Canada has all the trappings of a religion. Dogmatic and hidebound, any deviation from the sacred text of the Canada Health Act is greeted with hissing condemnation and doomsaying, always accompanied by a heavy dose of anti-Americanism.

L-girl said...

Kyle, it's perfectly fair to say the American system is all private. I personally can't even call it a system - I call it a non-system. It's such an insane mess.

Rob, I'm not sure that's really what Kyle said. :-) But I can easily see their 800 lb gorilla of a neighbor would make Canadians fear a slippery slope of privatization. I think it's probably true that a little privatization thrown in the mix would be a positive change, but I can understand the fear.

RobfromAlberta said...

No, he didn't. I guess I didn't say it exactly as I intended. I should have said "Kyle is exactly right and....". Sorry for the confusion.

L-girl said...

I was only joking.

RobfromAlberta said...

That's cool. You have to be careful when dealing with us Canucks, we will apologize at the drop of a hat.

We are making progress though. I'm happy to report few Canadians say thank you to bank machines anymore.

L-girl said...

You have to be careful when dealing with us Canucks, we will apologize at the drop of a hat.

A little self-effacement is good for the world. The typical American male is physically unable to apologize. Apparently apologies would diminish their manhood.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

"public health care in Canada has all the trappings of a religion. Dogmatic and hidebound, any deviation from the sacred text of the Canada Health Act is greeted with hissing condemnation and doomsaying"

I wouldn't quite phrase it that way, but it's true. Essentially fear of devolving into a "non-system" as L-girl describes it has paralyzed people into the status quo. They know it needs improvement, but they're afraid any change will bring the whole thing down.

Actually, it's weird in a way. Candians point out the worst flaws of the American er..system to prevent change. And Americans point out the worst flaws of the Canadian system to prevent change down south. It seems that that the paralysis is on both sides of the border.

Lone Primate said...

Something for the merry moneydrinkers on the right to consider before emasculating the Canada Health Act... socialism is good for business. Who knew?

http://www.counterpunch.org/lindorff04192005.html

L-girl said...

Candians point out the worst flaws of the American er..system to prevent change. And Americans point out the worst flaws of the Canadian system to prevent change down south. It seems that that the paralysis is on both sides of the border.

That's ironic, isn't it. At least Canadians don't have to distort and exaggerate to criticize the American whateveritis. It just sucks. Whereas everything I read about the Canadian system in US media makes it sound like an abject, utter failure - which it clearly is not.

RobfromAlberta said...

Not so fast. Sure, US companies would prefer to have their employees pay for their own health care. That's obvious. But the NDP doesn't want the tax burden to fall on the working class, they want it squarely on the shoulders of big corporations. It's only the combination of public health care and the corporate welfare so despised by socialists that make Canada a good fit for GM.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

"Something for the merry moneydrinkers on the right to consider before emasculating the Canada Health Act... socialism is good for business. Who knew?"

It's not that there aren't huge benefits to a public system. But there are trade-offs.

There's no such thing as a perfect system. The perfect system would have no lineups, cost 1 cent a year
to run, and have friendly, courteous staff. It won't happen.

A mix of public and private is a compromise solution. It's a tradeoff as well, you don't get the best parts of a public or private system, but you also avoid the worst parts as well.

All that really matters is do people get adequate, affordable health care. Since the court decision limits the impact to Quebec we'll see if a private-public mix is a better trade-off than the one we have now.

Lone Primate said...

So who suggested otherwise? The fact is, having a single-payer system is enormously to our advantage in keeping costs low. Okay, the downside is, not a lot of money for stealth battleships. Boo hoo.

RobfromAlberta said...

Actually, the Americans pay more as a percentage of their GDP for health care than we do (how that's possible is a complete mystery to me). So, public health care really has little relation to defense spending. Health care in Canada needs fixing, plain and simple.

L-girl said...

"It's not that there aren't huge benefits to a public system. But there are trade-offs."

As in all things, in all areas of life. To me it seems obvious that the trade-offs in the US "system" - trading the well being of so many for the profits of a few - are too steep and far too imbalanced.

Right-wing Americans make it sound like waiting is the worst thing that could ever befall anyone. Of course these are people who have always had good health care and never imagine it might be otherwise.

"A mix of public and private is a compromise solution. It's a tradeoff as well, you don't get the best parts of a public or private system, but you also avoid the worst parts as well.

All that really matters is do people get adequate, affordable health care. Since the court decision limits the impact to Quebec we'll see if a private-public mix is a better trade-off than the one we have now."

It makes a lot of sense to me. I'm reluctant to say that, because I understand concerns about a slippery slope. I understand them - but they don't seem warranted.

Anonymous said...

Guess who

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20050610.whavesay0610/BNStory/National/

Anonymous said...

http://www.fraserinstitute.ca/shared/readmore1.asp?sNav=ed&id=358