Four years ago despite the ruling on Quebec's Chaoulli case, the move towards increased private medical options appeared to be a marathon and not a sprint.
I expected that in the years following the Supreme Court decision there would be continued stonewalling by politicians to prevent more options for patients despite government's inability to fund all medically necessary care, including expensive life-saving care. At that time the economy had recovered from difficulties in 2002 and things looked positive for Ontario and Canada.
Well, those of us who support private care options are still running and its been tough slogging in Ontario with its entrenched and vocal unions and not-so-brave politicians but the finish line may be a few years away as legal process applies some force to political posturing.
Remember Forrest Gump's famous line that "life is like a box of chocolates"--- it is quite possible to be pleasantly surprised but also to have some unexpected finds while one picks through the box. Nurse practitioner clinics, pharmacists prescribing and diagnosing dementia based on dosette signals are just some of the unexpected "chocolates" but I am sure there are better options than these.
In an article by Pamela Fayerman from the Vancouver Sun," Private clinics to take government to court", it is reported that Dr. Brian Day is once again stepping up to the plate in an attempt to make significant changes in health care.
"Private surgery centres across B.C. plan to launch a court action against the B.C. government today to challenge provincial laws that block patients from accessing the clinics."
Representative operators include the Cambie Clinic Surgery Centre represented by Dr. Day, the False Creek Surgical Centre and the Canadian Indpendent Medical Clinics Association attended a press conference Jan. 28, 2009.
"The private clinics are expected to argue that citizens should be allowed to buy private health insurance to use in private clinics if their operative care is not delivered in a timely manner in the public system."
While this case appears to involve the rights to operative care, it is likely to have repercussions in other fields as well.
Provincial governments have two choices . They can continue to increase the percentage of their budgets going to health care in the next few years eroding other socially and egalitarian areas including education and social housing OR they can ration care with continued queuing, denial of life-saving care for some patients and with the substitution of lesser trained providers with unproven effects on patient safety or cost-efficiency.
Nowhere in the politically charged discussion in private and public care has there been talk about what patients can do for themselves and how they can move from an attitude of entitlement to an attitude of responsibility. It would appear that government is determined to keep patients dependent and beholding to government for health care.
Is the attitude of government dependency a strong foundation for health care or even for Canada as a nation?
I think not.
Someone rather famous with last name OBAMA recently said that what is needed is more responsibility for ourselves, for the country and for the world. And at the same time, he suggests a universal style health care system where the vulnerable are protected and supported. These two concepts are not mutually exclusive.
I suggest that in Canada a gradual cultural shift is required which encourages more responsibility for ourselves including in our own health. Undoubtedly this could take decades but it could start with a little honesty from our politicians that we can't provide everything for everybody all of the time and those of us who are able ought to be given the freedom to find other ways outside of the government funded health care system but inside our own country.
Thanks for reading and kind thoughts to all of you.