Private healthcare? In Canada? When pray tell?

By: Mishcha Popoff

I thought we paid politicians to think.

Someone, please! Tell Dan Albas what to think.

Westbank First Nations (WFN) plans to open a private hospital, but the rookie MP for the area, Okanagan-Coquihalla, doesn’t know what his opinion should be.

He has no problem throwing public money around. Albas supports upgrading the Merritt Civic Centre with your tax money, and he threw a cool quarter of a million to some local food activists in Grand Forks to set up a mobile abattoir to replace the private one that had operated profitably for decades.

But WFN’s plans don’t require a handout, so Albas is befuddled. And he’s asking constituents what he should think before daring to speak out.

Another private healthcare venture has been providing healthcare to Canadians since 1995, including Workers’ Compensation Board clients and a bevy of impatient politicians. I’m referring of course to Dr. Brian Day’s Cambie Surgery Centre in Vancouver.

Day is under constant pressure from the B.C. Medical Services Commission to stop billing his patients. So, upon hearing of Albas’s reluctance to support WFN’s plans, Dr. Day didn’t mince words: he called Albas a coward. “In the old days, politicians led,” Day lamented in our interview, “now they follow.”

Dr. Day launched a challenge in 2009 to wait lists, an expensive and risky legal endeavor which, ironically, will help WFN in its much larger venture. And scant few conservatives or B.C. Liberals will dare utter so much as a word of support.

In stark contrast to Albas, former Conservative MP Keith Martin, a doctor from Vancouver Island, routinely speaks out in support of private healthcare, pointing out it will save a whopping 340,000 lives a year!

Even Cuba offers private healthcare, as does every other nation in the world, except Canada and North Korea.

Switzerland ONLY offers private healthcare. The government covers medical insurance for the poor, and there are no wait times. And so people like Dr. Day, Chief Robert Louie of WFN, and Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, are doing everything they can to change Canada’s monopolistic public healthcare system. It’s the only way to help the poor who suffer the worst health outcomes in Canada.

Anyone can pretend to lead after studying poll results. Of course, Albas doesn’t have the money to conduct a real poll, so he’s trying to use the media to sound out public sentiment. And Dr. Day, Chief Louie, and everyone sitting on a wait list, can only wait to see what he decides.

They might end up waiting a long time. Albas, you’ll recall, supported Canada’s Long-Gun Registry, voting to kill it only when instructed to do so by the Prime Minister, but still reserving support for a different type of gun-registration scheme. Combine this with Albas’s support for B.C.’s Carbon Tax and you might think he was an MP from Quebec!

Ironically though, a 2005 decision by the Supreme Court of Canada struck down a Quebec law that banned private insurance. That’s right folks; even Quebec allows clinics like Dr. Day’s to operate, just as Cuba does.

Aren’t conservatives supposed to support the free market and the rights of individuals? Day’s Cambie Surgery Centre and Chief Louie’s proposed hospital will be the two most important things to happen to healthcare in this country, assuming they survive the attacks from healthcare bureaucrats who number one for every 1,400 Canadian citizens compared to just one for every 15,000 citizens in Germany.

An Ipsos Reid Poll conducted this summer showed 76 percent of Canadians support a hybrid public-private system. But Canadians are left to drop dead while the world’s most disproportionate horde of unionized paper-pushers defends the status quo and gets a free ride from politicians like Albas.

Could we please get an answer Mr. Albas? Soon? You see, it’s what you were elected to do.

This Democracy
Mischa Popoff is a freelance political writer and leader of the Individual Rights Party of B.C.

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