Chicken Little in full rhapsody. NDP’s anti-privatization crusade. The care guarantee.

Newspapers don’t print every letter-to-the-editor. Here are four from us that ended up being spiked. [In the good old days when typewriters ruled the newsroom, the news desk featured a nail-like spike for stories that weren’t going to be published.]

Letter #1

Chicken Little and her flock — who want to preserve Canada’s over-priced, mediocre health-care system known as Medicare  — are again in full vocal rhapsody, “The sky is falling. The sky is falling.”

Outside a B.C. courthouse Tuesday [September 6, 2016], a handful chanted and displayed “greed” placards. Catalyst for their most recent chorus is the resumption of the court case launched by Vancouver orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brian Day against the government of British Columbia.

Even though Medicare is one of the worst performers among advanced, industrialized countries, Gayle Duteil, president of the B.C. Nurses’ Union. describes it as “the jewel of Canada’s health-care system.”

It is understandable why Ms. Duteil and her union oppose private health care and favor the unionized Medicare monopoly. As for it being a jewel, the reaction of Leonard Cohen when he was chosen best male vocalist said it best, “Only in Canada.”

Dr. Rupinder Brar, of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, claimed, “This case is about profit and not patients.” She acknowledged Medicare “needs improvements,” but the solution “is not to introduce a for-profit sector.” Really?

In the most recent rankings of 11 countries by the Commonwealth Fund, Canada is No. 10 and the United States is No. 11. All nine countries ahead of us have for-profit sectors that play an important role in the delivery of hospital services and physician services. Moreover, on the notion of equality, Canada ranks No. 10 on “equity.”

Letter #2

The headline of the Journal’s editorial [“Laundry Issue Needs Less Spin” August 19] politely captures yet another misdemeanour of political intervention, nay political interference, by Alberta’s NDP government.

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman has taken credit for overriding Alberta Health Services [AHS] on two major decisions “to stop with the privatization agenda.” As a result, AHS cancelled contracts to privately provide laboratory services and laundry services.

Hoffman said August 17: “If you want to change the status quo, you should be able to present a business case” and “consider a variety of options.”

The most recent study by the Commonwealth Fund ranks Canada 10th, just ahead of the United States. The private sector plays an important role in the heath care systems of all nine industrialized, developed countries ahead of us!

So, why does Hoffman want to eliminate the private sector? What’s the business case? The options?

Patients deserve to know how the NDP’s approach will improve access and quality. Taxpayers deserve to know how it will improve the sustainability of Medicare.

Letter #3

In defending Canada’s Medicare monopoly, its advocates do not like to talk about patient care — wait lists, wait times, rationing, lack of patient choice, sustainability of the system, Medicare’s dismal performance compared with other major industrialized countries, and, in some unfortunate instances, patients’ failure to receive care.

Instead, they vilify extra billing, private payment, for-profit and queue jumping. They paint a halo on the Canada Health Act. [Looming threat to Canada’s ‘single-payer’ health care; Trail seeks to strike down limits of private payment. Karen Palmer. May 19]

And they praise Medicare’s “administrative costs” and its single-payer system. Now, is that patient-centred health care or what!

Now, Ms. Palmer predicts a catastrophe because of a court case in British Columbia. But, a catastrophe for whom? Patients who can’t get timely access to necessary care. Or, ideologues who paint a halo on the Canada Health Act and who believe in a unionized Medicare monopoly?

In response to Ms. Palmer’s column, a few comments are in order.

USA has 784,633 medical doctors active in patient care. 2,200 USA doctors who want Canadian Medicare are 00.0028 of all American medical doctors active in patient care.

Proponents of Canada’s unionized Medicare monopoly like to fear monger the USA system as the only alternative — which is blatantly not true. It is significant that not one other industrialized country in the world has copied the Canadian Medicare monopoly.

In fact, many other Canadians point a different direction — looking to Europe, Australia, etc. — as opportunities to learn from and adapt.

They include the Canadian Medical Association, various think tanks, and the landmark report by the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, chaired by former Liberal Senator Michael Kirby.

Medicare is important to Canadians. But when Medicare fails to deliver timely access to necessary and quality care, Canadians deserve the right to obtain that care here in Canada. One proposal is a “care guarantee.” Government rationing is not a justification for denial of care.

From a taxpayers’ perspective, Medicare cannot continue to gobble up more and more of government budgets because it leaves less and less for other important services such as low-income support, social housing, seniors programs and education.

Letter #4

Dr. Brian Day doesn’t owe “the people of B.C. an apology,” as suggested by Dr. Ryan Meili, spokesman for Canadian Doctors for Medicare. Rather, it is he who owes Dr. Day an apology for the cheap shot he took about Dr. Day’s motives [“The man who wants to free Canadians from medicare …” September 2].

Canada’s health care system, Medicare, is one of the worst performing among all advanced, industrialized countries. The most recent rankings by the Commonwealth Fund placed Canada No. 10 and USA No. 11. The top nine: 1. Great Britain 2. Switzerland 3. Sweden 4. Australia 5. Germany and The Netherlands 7. New Zealand and Norway 9. France.

All nine share one essential quality – the private sector plays an important role in the delivery of hospital and physician services.

 As for the fabled notions of Medicare around “reasonable access” and “equality,” Canada ranks No. 10 on “equity,” ahead of only the USA.

With refreshing candour, Federal Health Minister Dr. Jane Philpott told delegates to the annual meeting of the Canadian Medical Association: “It’s a myth that Canada has the best health care system in the world.”

Said the minister: “We spend more per capita on health care than many other countries. What’s worse is that, while we do this, we get poorer outcomes for our patients.” She could have added, “and poorer outcomes for taxpayers.”

Instead of criticizing Dr. Day, Dr. Meili and Canadian Doctors for Medicare should “walk the talk” about the wonderfulness of the unionized Medicare monopoly and call for a “care guarantee.” Both the report by former Liberal senator Michael Kirby and the Canadian Medical Association have endorsed the concept.

The care guarantee would compensate Canadians when Medicare failed to provide timely access to quality care. The patient could then use the compensation to obtain the necessary care elsewhere.

Canada’s government-run health care system – Medicare -- is a monopoly that prohibits private hospital and private physician care. Medicare is a subpar performer, ranking 10th among 11 advanced countries. Canadians deserve much better! Patients deserve timely access to quality care and choice of hospitals and physicians. Taxpayers deserve much more value for their tax dollars.

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