The story is the same in every province in Canada. Emergency rooms are overwhelmed, hospitals are understaffed, and ICU spaces are struggling to keep up with unusual pressures, whether due to local disasters, flu outbreaks, or spikes in COVID-19 cases. While finding a family doctor has become nearly impossible in some areas, waiting lists for medical professionals continue to grow.
Public health is a popular political football for all opposition parties. They put all negative medical consequences at the feet of the party in power, implying that lack of funding is to blame. Blaming a lack of funding is disingenuous.Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, every province in Canada has dramatically increased funding for the system. Despite heavy investment, the healthcare system continues to teeter on the brink of collapse even as the pandemic eases.
Health care is the top spender in all Canadian provinces, consuming 30-40% of the budget, and rising costs are putting pressure on all prime ministers. Last week, state health ministers banded together to call on the federal government to increase health care transfers to cover his current 22% to 35% of state health care costs. The Health Minister had a firm case given that the federal government was supposed to cover it. 50% of medical expenses According to the original medical law. Negotiations broke down and all parties walked away in frustration as Federal Health Minister Duclos imposed conditions on the increase in transfers.
The federal government is financially overstretched on all fronts with ballooning debt service costs and an impending recession. Liberals are unenthusiastic about the massive spending increases the Prime Minister is demanding. They knew the strings attached to increased medical transfers to the states would likely ruin the deal. It was a political ruse designed to get them out of their predicament.
The problem no one wants to talk about, whether federal or local, is that it’s the system that’s broken, not the spending model. Countries need to stop spending money on healthcare and change the way healthcare is delivered. But such talk is political blasphemy in Canada.
According to a recent report from Fraser Institute, Canada spends more on health than most OECD countries with a universal system, but lags behind on all performance indicators. She ranks 28th out of 30 in doctors per 1,000, 23rd in hospital beds and 10th in specialist wait times. If spending alone were to drive better healthcare performance, Canada would lead the way.
Canada has embraced the myth that it has the best healthcare system on the planet. In 2004, the CBC created a game show-style series to determine who was the “greatest Canadian”. After 13 episodes, Tommy Douglas was judged to be the greatest Canadian of all time because he was considered the founder of the health care system. It is often accused and accused of trying to “Americanize” the Politicians are afraid to propose substantive change for fear of being labeled as heartless idiots who keep people out of health services because they don’t have the money.
Canada needs an open public debate about its healthcare system. You should observe the most successful universal systems in the world and emulate them. The problem is that every country with a better universal system than Canada has a more significant component of private involvement in the system. But it provides an opportunity to bring the debate back into the American system and start sowing the seeds of suspicion and fear of healthcare reform. Leaders need to stop running away from this debate and start pressing the opposition to reform.
If we doubled the national spending on healthcare today, we would need the same number of nurses, specialists and hospital beds tomorrow. Yes, increased spending could expand some of these capabilities, but the drivers of healthcare inefficiency remain. More money will only bloat the already bloated bureaucracy that manages the system, and frontline services will continue to decline. Government monopoly supplies still stifle innovation and allow competing foreign systems to snipe medical professionals from us.
The discussion needs to move away from dollars and cents and onto results and performance. Unfortunately, Canadians don’t seem to be ready for that discussion.
To paraphrase James Carville when he talked about the economy in 1992, “The system is absurd!”
Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Epoch Times.