The Leaders on Health Care
This week, veteran radio host Peter Warren asked each of the Federal leaders if they would access a private health provider if their wife was in great pain and had an 18 month wait for surgery.
Jack Layton said he wouldn’t – that he and his wife, fellow NDP candidate Olivia Chow, had talked it over and would stick it out in the government run system. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall for that Sunday morning kitchen table chat.
“So honey, I know that you can’t even move because you are in complete and utter agony, but I just cannot take you to England to see the world-famous specialist who could make this end. Your pain is such a small price to pay for respecting our over-burdened health care system.”
Stephen Harper, weighing his words carefully as a conservative must when discussing Canadian health care, told listeners that if there was truly no choice, no way to move up the wait list, and if his wife was suffering, he would do what he had to do for her.
Layton sacrifices Olivia for Canadian content points. Harper guarantees a friendly homecoming at the end of the campaign.
But what about Paul Martin, you ask. What was his response to this very difficult question?
After twisting a bit, he came up with this winner: the Canadian system isn’t in that bad of shape and if his wife was really suffering, she’d get in hospital immediately.
No kidding. His wife is married to the Prime Minister.
For the rest of us, I’m going to share some statistics. These all come from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Canada spends more on health care than any other industrialized OECD country, save Iceland, when you adjust the data by age of the population. And given that people 65 and older consume 42.7% of the health care dollars, that adjustment makes sense. Even if you measure by straight, unadjusted percentage of GDP, we come 3rd in spending.
So, given that we spend more than any other country, one would hope that we get more for that money. Except we don’t.
On measures as diverse as number of doctors, access to high-tech devices like MRI machines, wait list time for surgery, and breast cancer mortality, we lag behind.
Canada’s infant mortality rate? We rank 16th out of the 23 countries measured. Our ranking for time with disability free life? We come in 14th. Doctors per 1000 population? Canada ranks 16th.
We’re spending a lot of money and just not getting the kind of health care we deserve.
We all have friends and family that have had to wait far too long for basic tests and services. Which makes me think it is very foolish of Jack Layton to blindly trust his wife’s health to this system.
And even more foolish that Paul Martin insists there is nothing wrong with our health care that another Liberal term in office can’t solve.
(As seen today in 24 Hours Daily)