Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 20, 2005
An efficient public health care system will survive
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
Canada's publicly-funded health care system will survive the recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling on private health insurance in Quebec, says a Catholic health care leader.
Gerard Lewis, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association of Canada, said Canadians have a deeply-rooted tradition of looking after each other that will guarantee the survival of medicare, despite fears among some observers that the decision may mean the unravelling of Canada's public health care system.
"We have a system of Canadian helping Canadian," Lewis said. "That's been what has made Canada what it is today."
Lewis said he was not worried that the June 9 decision would lead to an American-style health care system.
"We don't want to become like the Americans," he said. "We want a system that continues to allow every Canadian to have access to health care regardless of their financial condition."
Lewis said the roots of medicare extend back to the founding of Canada, to the realization among the earliest settlers that they had to help each other in order to survive.
"It goes back to the very beginning, the building of the country. That's just a fundamental value of being a Canadian. I don't think Canadians are going to give up on that," he said.
On June 9, in a complex split decision, the Supreme Court ruled that long waiting lists for some medical procedures in Quebec were putting people's lives at risk. It struck down a law prohibiting private medical insurance for services available through the public system.
Lewis says that Canadians must hold their political leaders accountable to commitments to protect medicare.
"The best way to deal with the issue of any trend toward privatization is to make the system we have more efficient," he said.
Lewis agrees that the system needs improvement, but opposes any changes that would draw people away from the public system.
He said that demographic changes will pose the greatest stress on the health care system over the next 10 years, and these changes will affect every aspect of Canadian life.
Not only is the Canadian population getting older, many health care providers will be retiring in the next 10 to 15 years, he said.
"Will we be able to replace them within the public system?" he said.
"The systems that draw people away from the public system are not helpful."
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.