Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 27, 2006
Catholic values at risk in health care proposals
Parish tackles gov't move to private, for-profit strategy
By CHARLES WECKEND
Special to the WCR
Catholic beliefs and values are at risk in the Alberta government's health care proposals. This was the message heard and echoed by some 55 parishioners and citizens at St. John's Church March 20.
Father Gerard Gauthier, pastor of the parish, called the meeting saying too many were too busy to take the time to seriously evaluate proposals that could haunt them 10 years from now.
He invited Michael Shea, CEO of the Alberta Catholic Health Corporation (ACHC), to present the Catholic vision of health care.
Shea pointed out the Catholic credentials on health care. The Church has been involved in health care for 2,000 years and is the biggest provider of health care in the world. In Alberta, there were once 200 Catholic hospitals. The ACHC continues, in some measure, the great work done by Catholic sisters.
Shea said the government faces real issues of cost and access to care and the answers are not easy to come by. He also underlined a Catholic appreciation for the vision and five values introducing the government's proposals.
However they lacked the key values of compassion and integral care of body, mind and soul, he said. Elevating "choice" to a key value is questionable. Also troubling in the government's plan were proposals for the expansion of private, for-profit, providers and private payment for essential services.
Values and beliefs
Using an ACHC document (Making Health Care Sustainable, www.achc.ab.ca/ACHCbrochure.pdf), Shea opened a discussion focused on five key value and belief issues:
- What kind of society is being promoted in these proposals?
- What place is given to respect for the dignity of the human person?
- Is health care coming to be regarded as just another commodity?
- Do proposed changes reflect good stewardship of resources?
- Are there particular impacts on faith-based health care providers?
Comments in the ensuing discussion suggested Alberta is moving away from a commitment to collective responsibility and compassion. The proposals are making wealth instead of personal dignity and need the criteria of care.
Health care in these proposals appears to be becoming just another commodity through commercialization. The good stewardship of resources is also questionable in that research shows private, for-profit care is more expensive and less efficient than a public system.