Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tales From Canada

One Canadian resident pointed out to me that socialist policies may seem successful in the short term due to the initial looting of taxpayers, but this is not sustainable in the long run. Economic reality then sets in, with the inevitable shortages and rationing.

Here's a slightly edited version of his e-mail, quoted with his permission:
...When Canada's Health Care System was nationalized, I predicted, to any who would listen, that in 15 years its initial flush of great service would decline from 'lack of funds' (1985). That is exactly what happened, but health care professionals took dozens of steps to mask or hide that effect. E.g., for the last decade, in the hospital where [a family member] works, an entire ward of ~25 beds has been used for storage, while patients lie on gurneys in the hallways. It is closed because the government will not provide enough funds for nurses to man it. Many staff in the hospital are unaware of this closed ward, even as they walk past it every day. Patients on those gurneys who die of heart failure or stroke, while awaiting for surgery, are not listed as having died from "waiting".

Similarly, emergency-ward wait times have been increasing. I used to hear of people waiting as much as twelve hours, but recently spoke to a man in who had to wait 36 hours while in considerable pain (a new record for my mental tracking of wait times). Meanwhile, an architecturally stunning new cancer wing has been built with private funds provided by local construction magnate... Outside there are gardens and statues of ordinary looking people 'leaving the building'. A sign tells us they are "Survivors". The wing has received a great deal of positive media attention and garners lots of oohs and aahs, but elsewhere there are still ~25 beds unavailable for other patients.

The hospital president is good friends with [a local politician]. When that friend became the province's Minister of Health the president was very excited that, with a little "schmoozing" (his word) he would now be able to get money for the hospital. Yes, that's how it's done!
More American politicians should learn what medical care is really like in Canada, before advocating a similar system for the US: