The Truth Be Told About Canadian Health Care
In June 2009, the Leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) of Canada, Mr. Jack Layton, travelled to Washington, D.C. to deliver a speech extolling the virtues of Canadian health care. His speech forgot to mention a few notable points like why so many of our politicians choose to leave Canada for medical care, the number of Canadians forced to travel outside the country for access to medical treatment, or why millions of our citizens are without a family doctor.
As I read his speech I realized how far removed this politician is from the realties of our health care system. Most disturbing is the myth that he continues to perpetuate – that the Canadian health care system is working. He adds to this myth many falsehoods such as no one is dying while waiting for care, that for many surgeries there are no waiting lists, and that Canadian health care outcomes are excellent.
If other countries are interested in how well the Canadian health care system is working perhaps they should turn an ear to the voices of its patients.
Here are some of the realities facing patients in the province of Saskatchewan:
The Saskatchewan Surgical Care Network website is to provide up-to-date information on surgical wait times in Saskatchewan. When I checked the site a few months ago it noted that as of December 31, 2008 there were 27,754 patients waiting for surgery. The site has since been updated and as of June 30, 2009 there are 27,589 patients waiting for surgery.
My husband is experiencing daily back pain and has asked his doctor for a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) test. Apparently, only a specialist is allowed to order an MRI. The wait to see a specialist is a few months. One can only guess how long the wait for the actual test will be. My guess is at least a year. Perhaps we could try booking an MRI with a local veterinarian.
A friend of mine has been having terrible, constant headaches for almost a year. I saw a free lecture on treatment options for headache care being offered by a Neurologist from another province. I suggested she attend the session at our local library. She said the doctor was excellent but when patients inquired about seeking treatment from the program they were told that the neighboring province is not accepting out-of-province patients for treatment.
These are just a few of the realities facing patients whom I know personally. There are millions more across Canada.
As politicians argue about what is right for patients, they continue to talk about us like we are not even in the room. Every once in a while they give us a small nod of acknowledgement like a parent to an impatient child indicating that they will get to us in a minute. They are so caught up in what they are talking about that they may hear the sounds our voices make but not the messages they carry.
Here is our voice, hear our message…the truth about Canadian health care must be told.