Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Greatest Canadian

The CBC (Canada's version of the beeb) has a reader poll on The Greatest Canadian. And the winner? Can you guess? Can you even think of any great Canadians?

Well, Canadians have a tough time of it too. Within the top 100 we see 11 hockey players (apparently toothless grins and hitting a piece of hardened rubber with a stick makes you great), 28 entertainers, various writers, political activists, politicians, a few military people and a couple scientists.

And the winner is? Well, I should've known this in advance. You see, Canada has a for real sacred cow. More than anything, Canadians (the type that vote for "The Greatest Canadian" on CBC polls), have, at the top of their list for things that bring them national pride, the marvelous and wonderful Canadian Health Care System (CHCS). And the winner of the poll is the guy who's thought to be the most responsible for said CHCS, Tommy Douglas. To quote from the CBC website:

After nine years in the House of Commons polishing his fiery public-speaking talent, Douglas was elected the leader of the provincial CCF in Saskatchewan. With interest in socialism peaking in post-war Canada, the party won a landslide victory in 1944 and Douglas found himself an instant celebrity as the head of North America's first-ever socialist government.

So he was the leader of the provincial government in Saskatchewan. Although he is identified with the CHCS, it was actually Lester B. Pearson's Liberal government that gave Canada the CHCS.

This post is becoming kinda lame, but the important thing is this. Canada's health care system SUCKS, to put it mildly. I lived there for 15 years, and I saw the thing first hand many times. It lags the US system (admittedly flawed, but due to government intervention more than anything) in availability and high tech gadgetry and all that. It is dominated by waiting lists for expensive but necessary procedures (my old roommate's girlfriend had to wait over a month for surgery to remove her cancerous thyroid tumor), unless of course you are the son of the prime minister, then you go right to the front of the line. All sorts of other bad things can be said of the CHCS, but the worst is this:

In Canada, it is ILLEGAL to provide or to purchase health care privately. No kidding, you can be on death's door, one procedure away from living, but if you're at the bottom of the waiting list, you cannot purchase on your own the medical procedure that would save your life. You must wait (unless you are wealthy enough to purchase American health care) and hope for the best. When I hear Americans fawn over Canada's version of "Universal Health Care," not once has one of them understood this aspect of it. And they are always surprised to hear it.

So if you're in Canada and you talk to a proud Canadian about the CHCS, expect to hear the phrase "no two tier health care system," and don't be surprised at their lack of interest in people with political connections moving to the front of the line of their one tier health care system. And note that for the most part, if you pose this question to the average Canadian mother: " would you sell everything you own and take your child to the USA for a procedure if they couldn't get it in time in Canada because of a long waiting list?" the answer is always "YES." So really, they have a two-tier health care system but are not willing to admit it.

and that's all I got.


Blogger Coley said...

As a person living in Canada for the past 30 years I naturally couldn't resist reading this item. I heard about the Greatest Canadian but never did tune into CBC to see how the votes went. As I said, I've lived here for 30 years so I just knew that I didn't need to tune in to CBC. I figured the vote would have gone to Trudeau, Castro or Marx. Thanks for letting us know who won that thing.

I must say you are quite right about the health care up here. We are being taxed to death for a third world health care system. But like people in the Eastern Bloc countries before the fall of communism, most Canadians are made to think we're working with a first rate system. In truth however numerous people are denied health care simply due to costs. People are needlessly suffering and dieing as a result. And it is not only the serious live saving health care issues that are being compromised. Even the notion of having a family doctor is becoming a thing of the past. Most people can't get a family doctor now so they have to resort to walk-in clinics usually staffed by unintelligable foreign doctors-in-training. These clinics look very much like the sort of health centers I imagine we'd see in places like Romania. Where have all our home grown doctors gone? The good ones that is? Yup, you got 'em. We lose a ton of doctors to the US and the ones we don't lose are probably quite often the ones you don't want.

Presently in the Canadian news there is a case of a patient who has been kept on a surgery waiting list for years, and will now probably die needlessly as a result of her wait for care. Apparently her doctor could have suggested that she went to the US for the life saving proceedure.

This case has brought to light an interesting little known fact: Apparently Canadians have the right to get some health care from the US whenever a necessary proceedure is unavailable up here! Of course the government, bureaucrats, doctors and hospitals don't ever tell us about this option. But for those of us who do know what's going on we thank goodness for the US and the quality of health care that you have available to save us from the Canadian mess!

10/27/2005 8:43 PM  

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