October 24 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 31  

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Some private health services would help

From the Far Lane
Emmett Macfarlane


When asked what the most important political issue is to them, most Canadians say health care, and for good reason.

Politicians of all stripes understand the priority, as the state of Canada's health system (as presented through the media) appears to be crumbling: ever-growing waiting lists, a doctor shortage, packed emergency rooms and a lack of hospital beds.

Ontario's new premier, Dalton McGuinty, has pledged to resolve the problem by hiring 8,000 nurses. Unfortunately, it is doctors that are needed. Have you been to an emergency room lately? Four nurses stand around and gossip while patients wait for the one on-duty doctor to see them.

I'm not saying nurses don't do an incredibly challenging job for relatively low pay and even lower appreciation. I'm just saying that for every great nurse I've seen, I've also seen a lazy, useless one. The government needs to focus on attracting doctors, but that fact has been obvious for a long time now.

The best, and most realistic, answer to alleviate some of health care's suffering is also the most unpopular, because left-wing ideologues have created and propagandized the term "two-tier health care."

Allowing private construction of certain additional services - such as MRI clinics - is an entirely sensible proposal. Opponents decry the concept because they claim it is unfair for some people to be able to pay for immediate service when people with less money can't.

But if anyone actually used their intellect rather than dogmatic emotion, they'd realize by not allowing certain private services to open, they're denying a great benefit to the health care system and society in general.

Think about it: a person who wants to pay for a private MRI scan, while still paying taxes into the public system, is taken off the public waiting list when he or she does so. The list is shortened, so the people who don't pay for a private scan benefit with a lesser waiting time.

Critics might argue this is a slippery slope and allowing some private services will lead to a United States-style system with private hospitals and a totally inequitable system. But slippery slope arguments could be applied to almost any issue. Permitting certain services doesn't always mean going to extremes.

The leftist concern over socioeconomic equality, coupled with the negative spin the media puts on the idea of privatization and its use of the term "two-tier health care," is only serving to harm the state of health care in this country. It's time people plugged their bleeding hearts, open their eyes and let a little common sense prevail.




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