You will know well from history that real change won't happen by providing more federal money with unconditional transfers.Real change will require helping provinces to shift the focus of our health system away from those who are relatively well resourced to new areas of care, such as essential pharmaceuticals and homecare.
Our health system often divides mental health from physical health into distinct silos of care and treatment, yet no such mind-body duality exists in actual patients. Many individuals with chronic health conditions simultaneously experience mental health issues -- and the reverse -- and such "concurrent" health challenges are far from uncommon.
While interviewing a Sunnybrook surgeon a few months ago, the topic of superstitions came up. He told me that similar to the general public, superstitions are common among medical practitioners. Studies have shown that superstitions are more prevalent in professions and circumstances with higher degrees of uncertainty.
As the public watches "entitled" physicians struggle under the barrage of Liberal hostility, they miss the very real danger of a government stuffing an already glutted health care system with more administration. As David Gatzer pointed out, this is "a system designed for political popularity, not smart policy."
What good is it to treat illness if we can only send our patients back to the conditions that helped make them sick to begin with? Our health is strongly influenced by factors such as income, our working environment and affordable housing, over which neither patients nor medical doctors have much control.
Lack of healthcare has dire consequences for the well-being of refugees and can also stand in the way of their integration into new environments. For the four-million Syrian refugees living in the neighbouring countries, their access to healthcare has been severely hampered by the funding shortage facing aid agencies.
National drug coverage has long been a priority for the more than one in five Canadian households that can't afford to buy needed prescription medicines. But in spite of decades of calls for a new program, the idea seemed not ready for primetime. The cost of national pharmacare was seen to be too great in a time of low political appetite for new universal benefits. But it turns out that pharmacare isn't a money sucker -- it's a money saver.
With all due respect to André Picard and his assessment that the social media voice of Ontario doctors is sounding "shrill, self-indulgent and counterproductive" as they continue their dispute with the Ontario government over fee cuts, I would counter that, given their current situation, our physicians are acting in a perfectly rational manner.
A Commissioner for Children and Young Persons could report on the status of children. They would ensure all sectors consider children in decision-making. A Commissioner for Children and Young Persons could also provide a framework of accountability for a federal commitment to eliminate child poverty.
What makes people sick? Infectious agents like bacteria and viruses and personal factors like smoking, eating poorly and living a sedentary lifestyle. But none of these compares to the way that poverty makes us sick. Prescribing medications and lifestyle changes for our patients who suffer from income deficiency isn't enough; we need to start prescribing healthy incomes. The upstream factors that affect health -- such as income, education, employment, housing, and food security -- have a far greater impact on whether we will be ill or well. Of these, income has the most powerful influence, as it shapes access to the other health determinants.
If you ever suspect that your doctor, nurse or other health-care provider forgot to use the hand sanitizer, by all means raise the question. But, in reality, most patients in your situation are reluctant to do so. Surveys going back almost a decade found that Ontario patients didn't want to be placed in the role of a police officer to ensure that doctors and nurses wash their hands.
For the last 30 years or so, Canadians have repeatedly flagged healthcare as the most important national concern and the issue they want their political leaders to prioritize. Surveys and studies and polls and panels -- there have been plenty -- all come up with the same finding: Canadians care about healthcare.
For almost 30 years I've tried to help Canadians understand their health system and their medical care. In that time, I've seen tremendous advances in medicine. Modern medicine has become so specialized that many physicians treat specific syndromes and body parts, and the patient herself gets lost in the process. We have filled our temples of medicine with such bedazzling hi-tech tools that we've forgotten that we should treat people where they live. In our desire to cure, we over-treat.