In my last column, I wrote that Canada’s health care system is not a model for the United States. Maybe Canadian officials were listening.
Earlier this month, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that Canada’s largest province would take a page from the U.S. playbook and expand private care to provide some relief to the millions of Canadians waiting for treatment.
Ford recounted that a CEO told him, “There are only two places in the world that have the health care that we have…Cuba and North Korea.”
“We’ve got to get better,” Ford said. “So we’re making the changes with the support of the CEOs and with the associations.” Ford’s drive to expand private care is a necessary step away from the socialist wasteland. More importantly, it signals a shift in mass consciousness. How can progressive Americans advocate for Medicare for all with a straight face when their ideal of beauty, Canada, is going in the opposite direction?
Ontario’s premier has proposed a three-step plan to provide care for the more than 200,000 patients currently on the treatment waiting list. First, the province will shift 14,000 cataract surgeries to new private health facilities in three Ontario cities. Last year, patients in Ontario faced an average wait of 20 weeks to undergo cataract removal after being referred by a general practitioner, according to the Fraser Institute, a Vancouver-based think tank.
Ontario will also invest $18 million in private health centers in the province to fund gynecological and ophthalmological surgeries, as well as various diagnostic tests. But according to Ford, even this significant investment will only reduce waits to pre-pandemic levels, not eliminate them entirely.
This brings us to the third step – issuing more licenses to private healthcare facilities to encourage their proliferation.
Critics, including the unions that represent Medicare employees, say Ford’s plan will actually increase wait times and lead to worse patient outcomes. This attitude is common among advocates of the Canadian health care system. They argue that allowing private care would create a “two-tier” system where the rich pay to avoid queues, leaving the truly needy to wait for care.
But this system already exists in Canada. Canadians routinely leave the country to seek medical care that their public system is unable or unwilling to provide in a timely manner. Canadians spent $690 million on health care in other countries in 2017 alone, a recent study found.
Many of these people are rich, famous and powerful people who have the means to escape. In 2010, former Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams flew to the US for heart surgery. “It was my heart, my choice and my health,” Williams said. “I did not give up my right to get the best possible health care for myself when I entered politics.
Canadian singer Michael Bublé left Vancouver for Los Angeles in 2016 when his young son was diagnosed with liver cancer. His son received treatment, including chemotherapy, at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Bublé believes that the doctors at the hospital saved his son’s life. Fortunately, his son’s cancer remains in remission today. Millions of Canadians do not have the resources to flee to the United States for top-notch care.
The story is similar in Britain’s government-dominated system. Just this year, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak caused a scandal after revealing that he received private care while publicly praising the UK’s socialized National Health Service.
Fortunately, to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, it seems that all eyes are open or open to the false promise of single-payer health care. Hopefully Americans will look at the human tragedies unfolding in Canada and Great Britain and make it clear to progressive lawmakers that they have no interest in Medicare for All here.