Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 20, 2000
Spiritus lists principles to guide health care reform
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
A new Catholic organization is calling on Catholics across the province to take a principled stance on Bill 11, which expands the role of private health care providers in Alberta.
Spiritus, a Calgary-based group whose member associations include the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Women's League and the Alberta Catholic School Trustees' Association, has listed eight principles to guide Albertans reflecting on Bill 11, Alberta's Health Care Protection Act.
The group, described as a grassroots Catholic organization advocating and mobilizing on issues that impact faith and life, clearly opposes the privatization of health care and has chosen to help Albertans judge the bill on principles dear to Catholics.
The 17-member board of Spiritus has grave concerns about the government's intention to allow further contracting out of insured acute care services within the public system, Colin MacIsaac, the group's president, said March 14.
"While controls placed on private providers in the area of uninsured services may be useful and helpful, it does not lessen our concern," he said.
Spiritus said it supports change within the present health care system but not its destruction. It is calling for increased funding from both the provincial and federal governments to improve the current system.
"There is little evidence to support private, for-profit services and much evidence that it will lead to the erosion of the public system," MacIsaac said.
He said considering the lack of documentation to support the proposed legislation, people should judge Bill 11 on various principles, such as human dignity, participation, preferential protection for the poor, stewardship, subsidiarity and equality.
Spiritus has faxed and mailed a four-page document with a list of eight principles to various groups across Alberta, including schools. It explains each principle and then asks a pointed question as to whether the Bill 11 upholds or ignores the principle.
The first principle in the document is the principle of human dignity. According to that principle, every human being - regardless of employment, economic status or intelligence - is worthy of respect.
"It's simply being human that establishes that dignity," says the document. "Given that dignity, the human person is never a means, always an end."
Then the document poses the following question: "To what extent does Bill 11 ignore this principle (of human dignity) by allowing the health of persons to be a means to make money for investors and shareholders in the private sector, relegating people's health to the status of a commodity on the stock exchange?"
In an interview, MacIsaac said the fact the bill allows for the financial gain of a certain portion of the population is clearly an abuse of the human person.
"The health of people should never be a means to make money," he said.
On the principle of stewardship, the document asks, "To what extent does Bill 11 reflect moral responsibility in the use of limited public funds in agreeing to pay facility fees to private operators for 'brick and mortar' at a greater cost to the public over the long term than making the capital investment now on behalf of future generations? Is this an attempt to offload costs from the tax-base to those who use the health care system?"
Established last November, Spiritus has members across Alberta, including Edmonton lawyer Kevin Feehan, Newman Theological College president Kevin Carr and Calgary's Lois Burke-Gaffney, president of the Alberta Catholic School Trustees' Association.
In Edmonton, Spiritus can be reached at 484-6209, fax 484-6248.