Socialized Medicine and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
The room is filled with law students. I take a seat at one of the long tables. Today’s public presentation at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Law is called A Constitutional Right to Private Health Care? Darcy Allen is here to tell us why he is legally challenging the Alberta Government’s monopoly on health care. His lawyer, John Carpay, is here to tell us more about Allen v. Alberta now awaiting a decision from the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench.
I listen as Darcy Allen relays his patient experiences in trying to access medical care in Alberta. A part of his journey is familiar to me; it’s the part where he realizes that he must leave the country to access the medical care he needs.
I recall first learning about the realities of socialized medicine. The reality is that you are legally prohibited from spending your own money on your own health care. The reality is that government can arbitrarily decide what is “medically necessary” for you. The reality is that you can’t choose the best care when you must take whatever you get from the agents of the public health care system. The reality is that your only alternative to waiting on a list is to leave the country.
Questions and comments follow the presentation. Someone says waiting lists will get longer if the public system is opened up and resources are drawn from it. Another person says the system provides equal access based on need not ability to pay. Another says the wealthy shouldn’t be allowed to leave the system to pay for medical care. The responses show more concern for the public health care system itself, rather than for the individual rights and freedoms of the patients it’s meant to serve. Clearly, any legislation that holds a citizen’s life hostage to forced dependency on a government health care program goes against what is just in a free and democratic society.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is meant to protect us from the harms caused by an overreaching hand of government. The Charter exists to limit government intrusion on every citizen’s “right to life, liberty and security of the person”.
Current provincial health care legislation undermining the principles of freedom, justice and good government must be repealed. If such legislation is found to be constitutional, then what’s a Charter for?