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Bloody ‘Sustainability’!

July 31, 2008

By former Canada’s World blogger Alexander Nataros

Sustainability. Car commercials, government policies, kitchen cleaners, even pet food packaging, increasingly carry the moniker. A victim of its own prolific use. Sure the Brundtland commission had specifics in mind, but now it’s too often just a marketing pain killer, a tidy euphemism to mask the tar.

One of the latest pimps is the provincial government here in BC which recently pushed through its so called sixth health care principle of ‘sustainability’, claiming that it is necessary to formally recognize the rising health costs, reportedly 40% of BC’s budget. The provincial NDP and their BC Health Coalition allies have argued that this is number fudging, rooted in spending cuts, used to sleekly increase privatization in the system.

While health care was the issue way back in the 2004 federal election and its aftermath, it has since been neutralized by the inability of both the Liberals and Conservatives to fully address the issues.

As McCain and Obama increasingly spar over their visions for health care, Canada is poised to drift towards privatization. Sure the Prime Minister hasn’t said much about it. In fact, when the BC premier approached the PM and premiers about the ‘sustainability’ principle, many were wary of reopening the discussion. But by ignoring the issue, privatization advances without a proper national debate.

With Canada’s doctors electing increasingly pro-private leaders (they did go on strike after medicare was proposed, after all), this issue isn’t going away anytime soon. And it’s an important debate to have-just how much should medicare cover? Sure, the basics.

But as gene therapies become increasingly common in treating illness, and drugs stretch the pockets of aging baby boomers, the ‘basics’ may increase the divide between Canadians who live and die.

And in Canada’s world, our health care policies at home influence what we promote abroad.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Scott Y permalink
    August 6, 2008 3:10 am

    When will Canadians pay attention (again) to health care? I believe the tipping point will come when 50% + 1 of every tax dollar in Canada is spent on health care. The realization that over half of our tax dollars are being spent on health care will force Canadians to realize just how elephantine the health care apparatus has become in Canada.

    For me, the scariest part of rising health care costs is the inexorable demographic changes that will come with it, with aging populations and declining birth rates – how will Canada cope with a shrinking tax base for rising health costs? And where will funds be diverted from (ie: international aid, foreign affairs operations, defense) to manage the public system?

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