Socialized medicine is rationed medicine.

With health care consistently polling as the top concern for Canadians it is sad yet unsurprising that so many people see queue jumping by people with connections as being one of the prime problems of the system. In Alberta we are currently holding a nice sidetrack of an inquiry into queue jumping that appears to be heading nowhere. Meanwhile all the real problems with our unsustainable health care system are being overlooked.

People appear to be more concerned that perhaps some professional hockey players managed to get a flu-shot ahead of them in line than they are with the fact that our waiting times for care are simply unreasonable.

Set your sense of envy aside and realize that queue jumping would be a non-issue if our wait times for care were reasonable in the first place!

Wait times for emergency and general primary care in Canada are among the longest in the developed world.

Wait times for specialized treatment are terrible in Canada too.


People are suffering and dying on waiting lists in Canada as our system fails us despite massive increases in expenditures over decades. The fact that some people managed to jump line now and then is only a symptom of the much larger problem. If you want to get angry, get outraged that the poor child above could have avoided paralyzation had he not been caught in our inflexible system.

People are jumping the line for health care every day in Canada. The majority of these people are leaving the country to do it. These are not rich people, these are desperate people. People are borrowing from friends and family and people are mortgaging their homes to leave Canada for timely medical treatment. If you were told that you needed treatment within months but could not get in for years, what would you do?

Doctors leave Canada to chase those dollars as well. In a gross irony, many people leave Canada and pay for treatment that happens to be carried out by a Canadian trained doctor as our brain drain continues. Among the systemic reforms that we need, cost effective retention of health professionals is a huge one.

We need systemic change in Canada. One commonality in all of the countries that have universal coverage (yes I repeat they still have universal coverage) yet blow us away in medical wait times is that those countries have mixed private/public health systems. Yes, in those countries some people pay cash for faster treatment than others at times. If this leads to shorter times for everybody though, why the hell not? Suck back the envy and enjoy the shortened wait time that the queue jumper just subsidized out of pocket for you.

Getting the best health possible means we have to look at the best systems and emulate them. Currently only Korea and Cuba share Canada’s system of banning private involvement to this degree. Let’s look to the top and see how we can get there. Before we can do so though, we have to accept that our system itself is failing. We also have to get over our envy and use common sense.

I expect the usual commenters beaking about the American system so let me get this out of the way now: I could not care less about the American system. There are hundreds of other systems in the world and dozens and dozens of them have better outcomes for dollars spent than Canada does. Don’t waste the text trying to polarize an issue that has many facets with the shallow black and white Canada/USA system comparisons.

If we want to see an end to these unreasonable waiting times for health care, we need to admit that we need to change our entire system. Every province in Canada has been constantly increasing spending on health care and wait times are increasing despite that.

Queue jumping is not our problem. A broken system sustained by sentiment and stubborn envy is our problem. I hope we realize this and fix things before we see a true health system failure.

One thought on “Socialized medicine is rationed medicine.

  1. Some scared cows should be sacrficed on the alter of common sense and this is deofinately one of them. Albertans are for the most part rational but keep allowing themselves to be swept up in the mantra promoted by the PC’s – well folks, time to stop consuming the PC Koolaid and start thinking for yourselves…

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