A little over a month ago I was invited to a food industry breakfast to offer my comments on how the food industry might help in improving the health of our society. Unfortunately, just three days prior to the event, I was uninvited without the courtesy of an explanation or an apology. So I decided to record my talk and post it online.
How did you end up paying for my teeth cleaning? My private health insurance plan reimburses me for dentistry and optometry, as well as prescription drugs and other health care services. But health insurance premiums aren't taxed the way the rest of income is. People without private health insurance are disadvantaged the most by the private health insurance subsidy. They have no private health insurance themselves, yet they still end up subsidizing everyone else's coverage.
Back in ancient times I was health minister in B.C. Much has changed. No one had heard of AIDS in 1979-80. Organ transplants were rare. MRIs were just gleams in inventors' eyes. One thing has however remained the same -- the debate over private medicine. In those days doctors were demanding the right of "balance billing," a euphemism for padding their bills. Now the doctors are mad at Vancouver's Dr. Brian Day for operating his own form of balance billing by running a clinic outside the Medical Services Plan. At this writing, Day is challenging the government to go to court and get an injunction against his clinic.
The Games represent a unique opportunity for the world to share its germs and for public health officials to find a way to stem the tide of infection. The fear of germs has recently been raised to a level not seen since the days of SARS or the pandemic flu. It's now a matter of time to see whether the fears will be realized or fade away as the athletic achievements take over.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food will present his preliminary findings on food security in Canada on May 16 in Ottawa. It's my hope that this will put child hunger squarely on the political agenda in Canada. We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but hunger is something that we increasingly see among the families that bring their children to the hospital for medical attention.