Wait times for surgery and diagnostic scans are a continuing problem in B.C., and pressure on health care system is increasing. (Black Press files)

Wait times for surgery and diagnostic scans are a continuing problem in B.C., and pressure on health care system is increasing. (Black Press files)

B.C. VIEWS: Private health care crackdown touches painful nerve

Many people are no longer prepared to suffer in silence

Responses are still coming in about my recent column on the B.C. NDP government’s effort to crack down on people paying for their own health care.

It seems many people are tired of waiting in pain while Canada maintains its socialist vision in the face of a surging senior population, rapid advances in medical technology and the collapse of the family doctor model.

Today’s medical school graduates are reluctant to set up an office and plug into a pay-per-visit system where patients must be run through quickly in order to cover the overhead. Some doctors put up signs warning patients to discuss only one problem per visit, the very opposite of holistic health care.

Some doctors take shifts at a walk-in clinic to avoid the 365-day demands of a family practice, in a society where people are taught that the government must solve all problems. The annual rush of influenza-infected people into our overcrowded emergency rooms is but one example.

“As a retired family doctor, I despair at anything changing for many more years,” a Vancouver Island reader writes. “I really fear for my grandchildren as the tsunami of grey-haired Canadians overwhelms the resources that our government is willing to commit.”

Others cling to the old U.S. comparison. “Tom, why don’t you do Canadians a favour and move to Trump territory,” advises another reader.

Fortunately, not everyone is trapped in this blind alley. Several readers pointed to the World Health Organization’s ranking of national health systems, which currently has Canada in 30th place. The good news is we are ahead of the U.S., which is number 37 despite a vastly greater total expenditure on health care.

The top 20, in order of performance: France, Italy, San Marino, Andorra, Malta, Singapore, Spain, Oman, Austria, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Monaco, Greece, Iceland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Ireland and Switzerland. The common feature is a mix of public and privately funded care.

Here is how now-Health Minister Adrian Dix put his position to me 10 years ago: “What we do here in Canada, it seems to me, is we combine social justice and administrative efficiency.” Regarding efficiency, see list above. And “social justice” is NDP code for sticking it to the rich, or pretending to. Dix hasn’t changed, but the world has.

One angry reader informs me that there is a Vancouver hospital that posts the cost of emergency visits. Somehow this negates my argument that our system doesn’t know its costs, because Canada is one of the last countries in the world that still funds hospitals in a single block payment.

Ottawa enforces this system, with Dix its enthusiastic cop. Extra-billing audits are underway at six private clinics, with the total amounts to be deducted from federal transfer payments to B.C., and fines plus repayment to be imposed starting this fall. All essential service must be paid by the B.C. Medical Services Plan, soon to be funded by a job-killing payroll tax.

The tide may be changing. Seeing the federal-provincial legal machine stretching out Vancouver surgeon Brian Day’s case to extend a 2005 Quebec win to B.C., a judge adjourned to allow Day to fundraise. The Canadian Constitution Foundation has taken on the project.

As Beverley McLachlin, now retired as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, wrote in the Quebec decision: “Access to a waiting list is not access to health care.”

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC HealthBC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The new facility in construction a few months ago. (Critter Care/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Critter Care expands raccoon and skunk care centre

The Langley wildlife care centre takes in injured and orphaned animals

Cody Weatherston was involved in a car accident in which his car was T-boned while travelling down 16th Avenue in Langley. (GoFundMe)
Driver succumbs to injuries sustained during Boxing Day accident in Aldergrove

20-year-old Cody Weatherston suffered brain damage after being t-boned at 256th Street and 16th Ave

The forfeiture case based on seized gold and European cash is being held at the courthouse in Victoria. (Black Press Media files)
Province aims to seize gold, cash after cannabis raids at Langley homes

Police also found ammo, body armour, and a stun baton

The Abbotsford Tulip Festival is permanently closing, with plans to eventually set up in Armstrong, B.C. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Abbotsford Tulip Festival is closing, with plans to rebloom in Armstrong

Event organizer says pandemic and sale of land were factors in decision

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Chilliwack Law Courts. (Black Press file)
Man sentenced to 20 months for sexual offences involving a minor in Mission

Will Laws Clark was 22 and victim was 13 at time offences began

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Second doses delayed as B.C. vaccine delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Kyrell Sopotyk was drafted by the Kamloops Blazers in 2016 and played two seasons with the Western Hockey League club. (Photograph By ALLEN DOUGLAS/KTW)
Kamloops Blazer paralyzed in snowboarding accident sparks fundraiser for family

As of Jan. 24, more than $68,000 had been raised to help Kamloops Blazers’ forward Kyrell Sopotyk

Most Read