The so-called “Alberta Chaoulli” challenge to single-tier health care has been defeated in the courts.
The Ultra-Conservative Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom (JCCF) had sponsored two cases in that province that suggested Canada’s single tier health system represented a monopoly that deprived the plaintives of life, liberty and security of the person.
The two cases both involved Albertans who paid for treatment in the United States rather than wait for timely care in their home province.
In the first case involving a Calgary businessman, the issue became not one of delay but whether doctors felt the treatment he sought was an option for treating his back pain.
The second case involving Alberta dentist Dr. Darcy Allen failed to offer any proof that more timely care would have been accessible had two-tier private insurance been available.
Dr. Ryan Meili has received considerable attention for his short 2012 book A Healthy Society: How a Focus on Health can Revive Canadian Democracy. Little did we know that the book would become a manifesto for a new institute dedicated to change how we think about politics.
The central theme of the book is based around a parable. In it a bystander leaps into a river when he or she sees a young child struggling in the current. After bringing the child safely to the shore, another child appears in the river. The bystander leaps in again to repeat the rescue. And then another child, and another. As a crowd develops to witness this spectacle, a wise person suggests that maybe they should look upstream to see who is chucking children into the river.
The parable is of course about our health system. Increasingly we are struggling to meet demand that results from changes in our society, including the widening gap between rich and poor. But are we really addressing the root causes of that spike in demand?
In his book Meili suggests that poverty alone is costing Canadians $7.6 billion in health care costs, $13 billion in lost income taxes and more than $35 billion in decreased productivity.