When the province of Alberta - currently flush with cash and feeling very cocky because it hosts the majority of Canada's oil resources - began making noise about privatizing parts of the system and challenging the federal government's will, I began to see the roots of a counterproductive debate that would further undermine the national system.
A recent announcement to cut the budget of a local hospital gave me the opportunity to share my thoughts.
Health-care policies ignore local needsYour turn: Can society afford to have a minimum health care standard? Can it not afford it?
Published Friday, March 3, 2006
The London Free Press
While Ottawa bickers with Alberta over the legality of privately-run health care, hospitals closer to home are starving to death. St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital has just announced 56 job cuts as it tries to control its deficit.
Hospitals across the province have been forced to practise this nip-and-tuck approach to fiscal management since Queens Park ordered all institutions to balance their books. And when the money allocated by the government fails to keep pace with changing demand, hospitals have no choice but to cut to the bone.
These latest cuts will reduce the hospital’s deficit by $2.8 million. But they won’t eliminate it. Could additional budget-cutting lie in store?
However this plays out, the results are always devastating to the community: Patients fail to receive timely, high-quality care, doctors leave and the freefall continues.
The future of health care in this country won’t be secured by senseless territorial battles between different levels of government.
If anyone in the hallowed halls Parliament is paying attention, we’re dying here.