Oh, the naiveté, innocence and idealism of some physicians

Letter published in the Alberta Doctors’ Digest, a publication of the Alberta Medical Association

Oh, the naiveté, innocence and idealism.

I refer to a handful of Canadian physicians who support the federal government’s proposed tax reforms that are opposed by the vast majority of physicians, the Canadian Medical Association, small businesses and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

According to this cadre, Canada needs adequate tax revenues to fund social programs such as our universal health care system, which is commonly known as medicare. But, what is “adequate”? 

In the early 1980s, provincial governments were spending about 30 – 35 cents of every taxpayer dollar on health care. Today, it’s in the 40-to-50 cent range. And, Alberta’s health minister, Sarah Hoffman, has raised the fiscal elephant-in-the-room with medicare consuming 67 cents of every taxpayer dollar by 2035.

This will leave pennies for other health-related government services and programs such as income support, social housing, seniors, education and the environment.

Canada’s health care system is one of the most expensive in the world and one of the worst performers – ranking 9th out of 11 countries! Still, one physician has argued that that diverting dollars from doctors would benefit her patients far more that it would harm physicians.

Oh, if only our health care system was so efficient and cost-effective that these dollars would actually follow patients and be spent on their care. The expression “throwing good money after bad” comes to mind.

 On the other hand, family physicians and medical specialists across the country have explained how the proposed changes will negatively impact their ability to provide access to quality care by laying off office staff and by reducing office hours.

These physicians and their financial advisors have done the math. Unlike Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s navel-gazing prophecy that “deficits take care of themselves,” overhead is overhead: it doesn’t take care of itself; it has to be paid.

[Ronald Kustra is spokesperson for the Association of Canadians for Sustainable Medicare, a non-profit society registered in Alberta.]

 

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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