Can We Really Afford to Lose Our Identity?
What would your life be like without free access to healthcare? Would you be able to scrape up the money required should you need a doctor and the system be privatized? Would you really want your fate to be held in a monopoly by third party insurance companies? Giving Stephen Harper’s Conservative party a majority government would spell this disastrous fate upon Canada as it loses its identity in the favor of Corporate America.
The economies of the Canadian provinces are not harmonious. While Alberta enjoys a very strong economy, Quebec has weak economic sectors which lead to constant deficits and large debts due to its large expenditures in its social programs. Within these provinces, and within its cities, the classes of people are split. From the wealthy to the impoverished, the hierarchy extends. Canadians can consider themselves lucky that their healthcare system will take them free of charge and not play the insurance company monopoly.
“Federal transfer payments are a critical source of funding for public services such as health care and education in Quebec.”
– CBC News
According to an article on CBC that was released in March, Quebec politicians from all political parties are claiming that “federal transfer payments are a critical source of funding for public services such as health care and education in Quebec.” In Quebec, the tuition fees to schooling are the lowest in the country and arguably many parts of the world. On another note, Quebec also has a strong social net for those who fall through the cracks. More importantly, Quebec has a very thorough healthcare system. While the wait times are despicable and the amount of family doctors dwindling, it is nothing more than a reaction to the dense populations that inhabit its large and growing cities. Quebec also has one of the weakest economies in Canada because of its high expenses. All of the aforementioned programs cost money that comes from tax payers and the major federal transfers that take place.
“This [bringing back a balanced federalism envisioned by the founders of Confederation] would be done by putting an end to all federal intrusion into areas of provincial jurisdiction. Instead of sending money to the provinces, Ottawa would cut its taxes and let them use the fiscal room that has been vacated. Such a transfer of tax points to the provinces would allow them to fully assume their responsibility without federal control.”
– Maxime Bernier, CBC News
However, a backbench Conservative MP, Maxime Bernier, has introduced to the House of Commons last Wednesday a new way of federal transfers that would inevitably threaten our healthcare system. According to a CBC news article released last Wednesday, Bernier says: “This [bringing back a balanced federalism envisioned by the founders of Confederation] would be done by putting an end to all federal intrusion into areas of provincial jurisdiction. Instead of sending money to the provinces, Ottawa would cut its taxes and let them use the fiscal room that has been vacated. Such a transfer of tax points to the provinces would allow them to fully assume their responsibility without federal control.”
“These changes [An increase in retirement rate with a lower replacement rate] will fundamentally affect the workforce. A scarcity of workers may lead to rising wages. This could encourage older workers to stay in the labor force longer or deter younger people from pursuing long-term postsecondary education. Also, employers may institute more automation and strive for greater workplace productivity.”
– Statistics Canada
Without federal control over provincial finance and affairs, provinces that have poor fiscal management and a weak economy will not be able to fund such programs which would lead to either large tax hikes or program cutting. Based on the economics and lack of economic power, these programs would be cut severely or completely dismantled. A Statistic Canada study published in 2004 predicts that, “These changes [An increase in retirement rate with a lower replacement rate] will fundamentally affect the workforce. A scarcity of workers may lead to rising wages. This could encourage older workers to stay in the labor force longer or deter younger people from pursuing long-term postsecondary education. Also, employers may institute more automation and strive for greater workplace productivity.” With this reality among us, the healthcare system could be privatized, and so would medical insurance. If this were to happen, Canada’s healthcare framework will crumble, and so will the budgets of the average middle and lower class Canadian.
“There would no longer be any ambiguity if each province stopped depending on federal transfers and raised the amount of money necessary to manage its own problems.”
– Maxime Bernier, CBC News
“There would no longer be any ambiguity if each province stopped depending on federal transfers and raised the amount of money necessary to manage its own problems,” Bernier claims with the growing demand for an increase to health transfers that is set to expire in 10 years. Therefore, if we think about it, electing a majority Conservative government would lead to the dismantling of Canada’s framework and inevitably our famed healthcare system. While we all complain, and look to the private sector, wait times in our American friends’ hospitals amount to be the same times as ours. The main difference between the Canadian and American model of healthcare is that Canada plays the collective soul and the United States play the battle of the fittest.
Canada is well respected worldwide for its hospitality and its open hand, the ability for a large array of people to live in harmony, in peace and be able to aid their neighbors without hesitation is what makes Canadians Canadian. With a change to the Canadian way of healthcare, to a more American style method, Canada would not benefit in wait times, nor would it benefit in quality, instead, the healthcare system would become a pool of sharks all vying at the glance of the sick person’s wallet. The inevitable rule of pure capitalism is to take advantage of the broken person for your own benefit and this is exactly what happens in the United States on a daily basis; people lose their homes, their cars, go deep into red ink just to be able to pay the doctor for being able to see them – once their health insurance provider has finished scanning their wallet the first time. Is this a humane fashion in which to run healthcare? Is a person’s life really worth the value of an artificial substance? We can make money any day we want, but can we create a human being in the same essence?
“Facebook, the world’s largest social network, announced in July 2010, that it had 500 million users around the world.”
– New York Times
Canada, as a society of humane and decent people should be alarmed about such a threat to our healthcare system. When the Republicans bashed Obama’s Health Care Plan by mocking ours, Stephen Harper didn’t open his mouth once. Instead, he stayed silent because he, like the American Republicans, wants to scrap social policy and aid and fund the rich and those who follow him and his people. While Harper was trying his best to hide from the situation, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and New Democratic Leader Jack Layton hit the American airwaves in the defense of our system and our true socialistic values. The National Post’s article: “Jack Layton: In defense of Canadian Healthcare,” released in July 2009, displays the points that Jack Layton made as he joined the American debate.
We must tell Stephen Harper that his plan to scrap our healthcare system – just as he is our database and gun registry – is not in the best interest of Canadians. Harper already lost his seat on the UN Security Council due to his hypocritical views on the Environment and the war in the Gaza Strip along with skipping important meetings to campaign at Tim Horton’s. While the media will not highlight these events in their bias towards the Conservative Party, it is time that Canadians remove the divisive hold that Harper has come to grip on and reunite and be rid of his non-Canadian leadership. It is time we save the Canadian identity and our prized healthcare system. It is time that we de-seat Stephen Harper’s cabinet.
There is always an alternative to our current government. While the provinces are about to be loaded with a paralyzing weight with the Conservatives, the Liberals plan to centralize the system even more and help those whom have sick family members in their Liberal Family Care Plan. Healthcare and Education are the cores to our identity and we shall not be silenced.