Canadian Healthcare: A Half Century of Broken Promises
“People primordially fear illness and death, and physicians, from shaman to modern scientists, have always been perceived as holding a near-talismanic power over both. With the rise of modern wealth came the potential for enormous tax harvesting, and politicians were quick to see that this power over life and death could generate deep feelings of gratitude and loyalty. Could they take this power unto themselves?” – William D. Gairdner, The Trouble with Canada . . . Still! A Citizen Speaks Out
Yes, they could, and in 1966, Canadian politicians took that power unto themselves, then promptly reneged on their promise to provide universally accessible healthcare for everyone.
According to Tom Kent (the government’s senior policy wonk at the time), the Medical Care Act of 1966 was needed because “many poorer people just did not get care when it was needed.”
In an imperfect world, it is probably true that some people did not receive care when it was needed. However, as I have written before, it is doubtful that more people lacked access to care under the pre-1966 private system as compared to the government’s socialized system. Furthermore, in the private system, contrary to Kent’s assertion, healthcare was routinely provided to people who could not afford to pay for it.
Charitable impulses and the pursuit of profits are not mutually exclusive concepts, despite what Kent wanted us to believe, and despite what politicians and bureaucrats still want us to believe. That’s the deception.
Kent said that the government’s objective with the Medical Care Act was “to make sure that people could get care when it was needed without regard to other considerations.” That sounds good, but as Milton Friedman warned, we should judge policies by their results, not their intentions.
At the beginning of each year, budgets for Canadian hospitals are dictated by the government, and if this predetermined tax revenue is depleted before the end of the year, as often happens, new patients are put on a waiting list for the next fiscal year. Thus, the government breaks its promise “to make sure that people [can] get care when
Article from Mises Wire