Monday, October 24th, 2016

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Current provincial health care legislation undermining the principles of freedom, justice and good government must be repealed.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?


2 Responses to “Socialized Medicine and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms”
  1. Amy says:

    I am all for a competing 2 tier system. There are public schools and there are private schools which one has to pay tuition. It is always a bad idea not to have any choices like communist China in the old days. Communist china today has many choices in health care. I must say we are the very minority in Canada. Since the inception of Medicare, Canadians have been brain wash to treat Medicare as our national treasure and identity. It is what differentiate us from the Americans. I would estimate 90% plus Canadians are very happy with their health services because 90% of the health services are low cost and low tech. They do not have any access issues to these low tech family doctor services. About 10% or less Canadians need high end medical services. They grin and bear it and languish in a waiting list of an uncompassionate system of care. Once they got over it, all is forgotten and forgiven as it is “free”. There is no lingering medical bills to remind them of the bad care. Thus 90% of Canadians are short sighted happy voters. The 10% will never win.

    • I am a retired Canadian physician who practiced under a single payer heath care system for 38 years. I have written two books on the subject. The latest is called the Single Payer Healthcare System – Faults and Fixes. It is based on my Canadian experience.

      The biggest problem is that it is financed through taxes.

      What happens when the cost goes up and government does not want to raise more taxes? There is no solution except to impose a fixed ceiling. This is when government-managed care kicks in. Now you have a government official in charge of manpower and equipment. You get shortages and rationing, long wait lists, needless suffering and preventable mortality. This has been the history of single payer systems in Canada, Sweden and Taiwan. How could it be otherwise? Why is no one bringing this problem into the open during the current health care debate in Canada? This is the fatal flaw – you cannot escape government-managed healthcare with the present outline. The only way a single payer healthcare system would work is if it is built on a traditional insurance foundation, with premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. Those under a certain income threshold have to be subsidized. There would be economies if a single payer was used because there would be much less administrative cost for both the insurer and the provider. Before I leave this let me enlighten you briefly on how bad things are in Canada. There are horror stories galore, but nobody pays any attention to them. They are dismissed as the unscientific complaints from a few disgruntled misfits. Scientific studies of the effect of the long wait lists are not available because these studies would involve delving into medical records – something no institution would ever allow. But then, there is one such study. The heart hospital in Winnipeg wanted to do heart transplants. To get access to the donor bank they had to submit to an external audit. The review showed that in just one year there were 262 last-minute surgery cancellations because of insufficient staffing, too few heart pump technicians, and not enough ICU beds. There were 4,000 people on the wait list for an echocardiogram. The proposal to do heart transplants in Winnipeg was therefore rejected. You see, this is not someone’s malicious , trumped-up horror story. This story is based on solid science. The rest of the healthcare system is just as bad, but we are not allowed to see it.

      Henry P. Krahn, M.D. 2497 Leisure World, Mesa, AZ 85206. 480 257 3796.

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