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(Published in the Abbotsford News week of June 13, 2005)

Health Care: Time for the Truth … finally!

John Pifer

Our two-faced, weasel-word Canadian politicians – in all parties – may now finally have to face the country’s health-care fantasy head-on, thanks to the Supreme Court of Canada.

With its decision last week in a Quebec case that people have a right to seek private care if the public system fails them and leaves them waiting and waiting and waiting for treatment, the court finally paved the way for common sense and the truth, not rhetoric, to prevail.

Our supposedly sacrosanct one-size-fits-all universal health-care system has been broken for many years now, despite all federal political parties and their leaders lying and pretending it was not, especially at election time. Whether Liberal or Conservative, NDP or Reform, all of our recent prime ministers and all those who have been lusting for that post have stuck to the party line that they fully support the one-tier system developed by Saint Tommy Douglas blah, blah, blah.

The truth is, two-tiered care has been a fact for decades, with those same damn politicians leading the parade of those seeking their professional health care from the private sector, or jumping the public queue whilst professing that it is an equal playing field for all.

They all played the game of supporting some insane communist-style ideology that can no longer apply to a system where billions of tax dollars are wasted every year in every province, and people die on waiting lists praying for surgical procedures.

Private health clinics of all sorts have been operating (pun intended) in Canada for decades, with Quebec leading the parade to provide the care that the outdated, over-clogged, administration-heavy, union-bound general system cannot. Even the nation’s prime minister, Paul Martin, is treated by a doctor who is a prominent player in private health care in Quebec, for heavens sake!

The fact that people are prepared to pay to have their operations now, rather than two years down the road of pain, discomfort and/or death, should come as no surprise. It has always been thus. The defenders of the stale status quo seem to despise the wealthy, and demand that they not exercise their rights to choose whatever the hell they want to choose, even when it comes to health care.

Having more clinics ready to take in those with the funds to afford them means the waiting list for those who are not able to shell out the extra shekels will shorten, easing the pain. This has been proved repeatedly in European nations where the mix of public and private care means waiting lists are negligible.

But no – we Canadians are told that if our family pet requires a hip replacement, we can go and pay for that immediately; but if we need one, get in line, we do not have the option on how to spend our money. How ludicrous! How hypocritical!

It is to be hoped that honesty will now prevail, and that the spin doctors with vested interests who want to keep things as they are, as long as they get their preferential treatment, will back off and let Canadians exercise their right.

Veteran B.C. journalist/broadcaster John Pifer may be reached at


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