Canadian Politicians Without a Queue
When you think about our universal health care system do you ever wonder about the fairness of waiting lists, otherwise known as queues? Our politicians claim queues provide Canadians with equal access to health care. Do they really?
Remember the recent outcry when hockey players and their families jumped the queue for the H1N1 flu vaccine? I don’t understand why that caused such a stir because athletes, like politicians, always receive preferential treatment. Do you honestly think that any of them wait months on a list for an MRI or surgery?
How can you be considered a queue-jumper if you are never really in the queue to begin with? In 2007 former prime minister Jean Chretien discussed his medical symptoms while playing a round of golf with a Cardiologist. He received testing the next day that revealed arterial blockage. Media reported that a cardiologist then requested emergency quadruple heart bypass surgery for the following day. This swift access to testing and surgery helped prevent heart damage from occurring. The Montreal Heart Institute denies that Chretien received any special treatment indicating that all of their patients receive the same standard of care. Oh, really? How many other patients are able to schedule their emergency surgery? On December 11, 2007 Chretien appeared on the CBC television show The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos.
In the first two minutes of the interview we learn that after receiving the results of his tests Chretien was told that he would need surgery at some point in the future. His response was that he’d like to have it right away and they agreed to perform it the next morning. When asked why he didn’t have to wait on a list like everybody else he attributes it to luck. The truth is that luck has very little to do with it.
While on the campaign trail in 2006, the media reported that New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jack Layton received a hernia operation in the 1990′s at the Shouldice hospital, a private facility in Toronto. An interesting choice for such a fierce defender of the public health care system. Then again, if labour unions helped found your political party then I suppose you are beholden to them politically not personally.
The truth is that universal health care and its queues do not provide each of us with equal access when it comes to caring for our health. In a 2005 judgment, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that “Access to a waiting list is not access to care”. The shameful part is that politicians continue to shape our health policy and promote a public health care system whose shortcomings they will never experience.