In my experience, equity in Canada's health systems is discussed a lot, but that seldom translates into effective action to ensure equal access and equal outcomes for all people regardless of their race or culture. Provinces rarely have a person who is in charge of health equity; lacking health equity plans or targets.
Health-care cultures that will not acknowledge or admit to medical errors, and therefore fail to learn from them, or permit expressions of resentment and disrespect by care teams (and administrators) to patients and families seeking information are the very antithesis of what patients need and what a caring society should accept.
Understandably, prescription drug coverage only becomes a concern for many individuals when they can't access the drugs they need because of cost. If you haven't personally experienced problems with drug coverage, there is a high probability that your child, friend or loved one has.
The field of medicine is one of the most sought after professions in this country, with admission rates around 26 - 28% of domestic applicants in a given year gaining acceptance to a Canadian medical school. Given such a low admissions rate, there are far fewer positions than qualified applicants. How, then, should we choose those who are admitted to medical school?
In terms of health care, we have it pretty good. If you are unfortunately diagnosed with cancer, most, if not all of your treatment will be paid for. If you break your leg, you can go to the ER and get a cast and leave without a bill. If you require surgery, the government will pay for that too. But what if your issue isn't physical? What if what's holding you back in life is a mental concern? Well, then you're kind of out of luck.
For many decades, physicians themselves have resisted unionization. There's never been an article written on why, but my sense is that for whatever reason, they felt unions were "beneath" them somehow as professionals. I've also had more senior physicians express to me concerns about a loss of independence if one were in a union.
When I was in training, most family doctors worked only with other family doctors and registered nurses. Today, my health care team is rich with a variety of critical skills. But what's missing -- and should be an essential part of any healthcare team -- is the digital expert.
Calls for a government-operated national drug insurance program have been getting louder over the past few months, culminating most recently with premiers from across the country signing a "prescription" for "National Drug Coverage." The notion that a national government-run drug plan is the obvious solution is misguided.
I had a vision of cultivating a practice where patients felt heard and cared for, and where I could provide full-spectrum family medicine care, including obstetrical care. My practice embraced the principles of patient-centered collaborative care. It employed the latest in 21st-century technology. I loved my work and my patients. But after five years of constant fighting with multiple private insurance companies in order to get paid, I ultimately made the heart-wrenching decision to close my practice down. The emotional stress was too great.
Right now the strategy seems to be to make it as difficult as possible for families to navigate the system and find the care their loved one needs. There are so many rules which means that the patient isn't eligible for this or doesn't qualify for that.
Many doctors who work in group practices are now paid a flat fee, per patient, per year. It essentially means the physician gets the same amount regardless of whether you have just one appointment or 10 appointments a year. So a doctor paid on that basis doesn't really lose money if a patient misses an appointment. However, protecting the doctor's income is not the sole motivation for imposing a "no-show" fee.
Canada should and could have a role, working through the World Health Organization, to create such basic systems, through international aid. But, it must also look internally to the failure of our own health system to serve the needs of our Northern peoples where TB is highest (234 cases per 100,000) primarily because of inadequate housing and overcrowding.
It is not too late to exercise your democratic rights and voice your opinions. I may not be old enough to vote in the polls yet, but I am definitely old enough to vote at the cash register. I have also had the honour and privilege to speak with thousands and thousands of people across Canada about GMOs, and it's pretty clear.
Since 2006, British Columbia has spent more than $1 billion to improve primary health care. So have B.C. patients benefited from such a massive investment? Sadly, it appears not.
Health Canada has recently announced a proposed amendment that will require licensed producers (LPs) under the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) to submit information about the doctors who are prescribing cannabis to provincial medical licensing authorities. In my opinion, this is another backhanded attempt to further de-legitimize the traction cannabis has been gaining in Canada and to appease the powerful institutions that surround federally authorized access.
Those who suggest changes to the health care system are generally met with cries of "treason" and are invited to move south of the border. The superiority of our model to that of the U.S. has become such a part of our national identity that we've become reticent to experiment with new ideas. Calls for reform invariably spark fears of a plot to put an end to the free system and make us more like the Americans. So we're better than The United States, but should we really aim so low?