Volume 94, Issue 86

Tuesday, March 6, 2001


EDITORIAL

Editorial Board 2000-2001

Health care can be rehabilitated

Editorial Cartoon

Health care can be rehabilitated

Stockwell Day thinks private cancer care services are a bright idea – that should be your first reason to be concerned.

A new private after-hours radiation clinic in Toronto has come under fire from the Canadian Union of Public Employees; CUPE officials say the Toronto clinic could potentially lead the nation down the slippery slope towards private health care.

The clinic, which is run by Canadian Radiation Oncology Services Ltd., is still funded by Health Canada and falls under the auspices of Cancer Care Ontario. Still, it has raised the contentious issue of a publicly funded service being administered privately.

CUPE is concerned the Toronto clinic will set a precedent that allows American and other foreign providers to enter Canada's health-care system unfettered by the watchful eye of government.

Those who endorse the Toronto clinic say it will help alleviate a cancer care system which has been bogged down by endless waiting lists since 1999. Cancer Care Ontario has estimated over 1,500 patients have had to travel to the United States for treatment in the last two years.

All this points to the conclusion that we live in a growing and aging population, where the need for quick and efficient cancer care services will become an increasing necessity. An argument can be made, that if a private provider can help ease the public burden, without Canadian citizens having to pay private fees, then changing over to a private system should be no cause for alarm

But a private provider who works within the system is one step away from a private provider who works outside the system. Canada's health care machine is one of the symbols that enshrines us in the socially democratic traditions of our past.

Canada takes pride in being a country that supposedly cares for its people, a nation where all citizens have equal access to important services. It's one of the few things which still separates us from the American "dream" which exists South of the border, where the individual reigns over the collective, where "I" comes long before "we."

With every step we take towards moving our health care towards privatization, we move one more step away from accountability.

There is an easy solution: Return health care transfer levels to the levels before the slash-and-cut directives the industry suffered throughout the 1990s. The population has grown, but funding levels of the have remained the same.

We have a very balanced budget. Unless you have been in hibernation, you know we have quite the surplus. Despite the government's inability to focus on anything but the next tax cut, we can make the current system work.

Health care is not a commodity; it's an entrenched right for all fellow Canadians and we must ensure that it stays publicly funded, despite all calls for the contrary.


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Copyright The Gazette 2000