The support for the Canadian health care system is almost cult like.
I grew up being taught that Canada has the best health care system on the planet. This mantra was repeated by teachers, politicians, union heads and news organizations.
Canada’s State Broadcaster even named Tommy Douglas as our greatest Canadian in 2004 after a short game show style reality series.
The problem is that its all bullshit.
When it comes to health outcomes Canada is not at the top. When it comes to value for health care dollars, Canada is not at the top. If we are not at or even near the top by those two measures, we have no damn place claiming that we are at the top.
By the way, I don’t give a shit about the American system. I won’t play into that hysteric narrative which limits discussion on health care to two systems.
There are dozens of systems out there with universal coverage for citizens and many of them spend less than we do while seeing better outcomes than we do. To be frank, we are being idiots for refusing to look to other systems to see how we can improve ours.
People are literally dying on waiting lists while we run record deficits at all levels of government. Something has to change.
So what is keeping us from pursuing health care reform? Why is ideology more important than outcomes when it comes to health care in Canada?
Our leadership needs to find the courage and will to address the biggest elephant in the room when it comes to health care reform. That elephant is unions.
Unions don’t give a rats ass about patients, taxpayers or health outcomes despite what they may claim. Unions exist for the benefit of their membership and the growth of the union. Nothing more.
Canada’s bloated and inefficient health system status quo benefits public service and health care unions greatly. When we have turned our system into a religion where the only actions a government is allowed to do is toss more money into it while refusing to pursue accountability, we have created a union paradise.
Health care spending has been exploding over the past few decades while waiting lists grow. This pattern is simply unsustainable.
We need challenge the Canada health act. We need to examine practices and seek efficiencies and we need to get the spending under control.
The unions will go haywire when we try any of those necessary measures. A parasite is never more tenacious than when it is being removed.
Jason Kenney is well aware of how tough this battle will be. That is why while he campaigned on fiscal austerity, he still committed to maintaining health spending. That won’t work for long. Health care is simply too big a spending item while our debt continues to grow.
We need to expose and pick at what the unions don’t like to talk about. Aside from the terrible inefficiency of the system, we are paying most of those within it too damn much.
While Alberta has languished in a prolonged recession with citizens taking pay cuts or being laid off, health care workers in Alberta remained the highest paid in the nation for the most part.
The differential is striking. If we could just bring compensation for health care workers to the national average we could save hundreds of millions if not billions.
I am not talking about draconian wage cuts here. I am talking about simply bringing our workers in line with the rest of the country.
Doctors are no exception either. $900 million per year could be saved by bringing their compensation in line.
We can’t simply jump into the system with an axe and start cutting wages for nurses and doctors. There are contracts in play and we don’t want to be losing too many workers at once.
It is long past time that we recognized that we are paying too much for health care labor though and began talking about how to bring that in line. The conversation has to begin.
A good showdown with the labor unions will help us all in the long run. They are keeping us from innovating and they are simply costing us too much. We can’t let this organized labor tail keep wagging our health care dog any longer. It is simply too important.
We need to break the two myths which the unions are desperately trying to maintain. The myth that our health care system is perfect and the myth that our health care system is sacred. With those myths broken we will finally be able to seek out the health care changes and innovations which other nations enjoy.