Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

Can’t Start a Fire Without a Spark: Speaking Up at the Vancouver Town Hall


Last week I attended the Vancouver town hall on rebuilding Medicare. It’s one of five public events, make that six with the recent addition of Québec City, being hosted by the Canadian Medical Association and Maclean’s magazine.

Many people, including some doctors and nurses, are calling for an expansion of Medicare to provide coverage for pharmaceuticals, long-term care, and a growing list of other things. As it stands, our health care spending accounts for almost 43% of provincial budgets in a system with government price controls and rationed care.

At the last town hall held in Edmonton a member of the audience asked a great question
“Governments are not good at running businesses especially health care, isn’t this where the conversation should start?”

I agree. Millions of Canadians are without a family doctor and hundreds of thousands of patients are waiting on lists for access to diagnostic tests, specialists and surgery. I’m not advocating for Medicare or any expansion of the Canada Health Act. Based on my patient experiences and what I’ve learned about our single-payer system, I stopped considering government as my best advisor for health care many years ago.

You can listen to what I had to say at the Vancouver town hall on the Cable Public Affairs Channel (forward video to 39:27)or read it here:

Our health care system is failing both patients and providers.

It’s time for politicians, doctors, and patients to acknowledge that government cannot provide for all of the health care needs of all of the people all of the time.

We have outgrown Medicare, yet a government monopoly leaves us trapped in a health care system where politicians and health care bureaucrats make decisions regarding our access to health care and the type and quality of care we receive. Ultimately, it is patients who are left to bear the greatest costs for its failures.

It’s time to usher in a new health care system that promotes and protects the medical freedoms of patients and doctors; that puts patients and their doctors, not third parties, in charge of making health care decisions and that allows all Canadians the freedom to spend their own money on their own health care within their own country. Improvements in access and quality, greater transparency and accountability, and a true culture of patient-centered care will follow.

It’s time for government to return health care to its rightful owners – patients and their doctors.

How are you going to help patients usher in a new health care system based on the individual medical freedoms of patients and doctors?


6 Responses to “Can’t Start a Fire Without a Spark: Speaking Up at the Vancouver Town Hall”
  1. I attended a town hall in Kelowna 2 weeks ago, and I learned that MSP is paying Kelowna General $18,000 for each knee replacement. When people go to http://www.MediBid.ca they can get them for $12,000 in Phoenix. Think of how much taxpayer month we coudl save

  2. Mrs. W says:

    Until patients who have been impacted start to assert their charter rights to patient autonomy and access to timely medically neccessary services – little will change. In the current system a physician and a patient may decide what is the best route of care but may be impeded in delivering that care by an under-resourced system.

    For example, a maternity patient and her doctor may determine that a scheduled c-section is in her best interest. If the resources are not available at the time they are needed the scheduled surgery may be ‘bumped’ by more urgent cases and if the woman goes into labour, the scheduled c-section becomes an urgent c-section or an unplanned vaginal birth. Anything other than the care planned by a woman and her doctor subjects the woman to unwanted risks and deprives her of ‘informed choice’ and should be considered a serious breach of quality care.

    • admin says:

      Mrs. W,
      You’re right! It’s up to us to drive change. The good news is that patients are currently involved in legal cases concerning individual rights and freedoms and access to health care in the provinces of Alberta and Ontario and there is another case being spearheaded by a surgeon in British Columbia. We just don’t hear much about it in the media. And let’s not forget about the inspiration for these current cases. It comes from a patient named George Zeliotis and a doctor named Jacques Chaoulli who came together and took their fight for medical freedom all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

      Change is coming!

      • Kartik says:

        Hi admin,
        I read that you had to go to the US to get your treatment. If you don’t mind me asking, where did you go? and for what illness?
        I’m interested because I have strong views on how both countries can reform their health care system!

        • admin says:

          I went to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland for a medical assessment and tests in 2006. At that time it was considered to be one of the top hospitals in gynecology. I had a person assigned to me, much like a patient navigator, who assisted me through the entire process. Afterwards, I was given a hardcopy containing a detailed assessment. I paid for the doctor’s consult (1 hour) and the tests with my credit card. I believe the airfare for me, my husband and my mother, who helped look after our baby, cost more than the medical bill. I was a true customer of health care without any third party, neither government nor health insurance companies, coming between the health care decisions being made by me and my doctor. Many politicians leave Canada’s single-payer, government-run health care system to seek medical care in the United States. In doing so, they are exercising an individual freedom of choice concerning health care decisions. It’s time they allow their fellow citizens the opportunity to enjoy this same freedom within their own country. It would be a great starting point for reforming our health care system.

          • Kartik says:

            I agree with you! You were just one in THOUSANDS of Canadians who go to the US every year for life saving care – many more choose to go on their own (and pay for themselves).

            What we need, just as the US does too, is FULL on competition between hospitals and insurers – with insurance being returned to it’s traditional role.
            Government just brings shortages, rationing and price controls – which is why too many die in this country waiting for life saving surgery or drugs. Plus for most drugs, including cancer drugs, one must buy private insurance because provincial plans refuse to pay for most (for cost issues).

            John Hopkins is still fantastic – it’s not just politicians and wealthy but also MANY average income Canadians who leave Canada to the US for medical care. Both countries need reform!

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