Skip navigation

Vow broken on cancer wait times

From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

Most hospitals across Canada fail to meet Ottawa's four-week guideline for radiation ...Read the full article

This conversation is closed

  1. Martin Chriton from Cupterino, California, Canada writes: Uh last time I check the Harper government has only a few months to clean up of the disaster of the previous Liberal. Did you actually expect them to completely fix the total train wreck of the health care system in a few short months? I don't ever recall them claiming it would be done instantly after the election. If in four years this minority Harper government is still around, you then have the right to complain :) Until then it's your fault for not giving them the full 4 years.
  2. tim white from Calgary, Canada writes: Health care of this type is expensive. Do Canadians deserve it? Sure they do. The question is how to afford it and I'm not sure this is a political problem. I think it's up to as many healthy Canadians as possible to make some good lifestyle choices as individuals now. Vegetables exercise and all that.

    Health outcomes will improve over time if we all pitch in and we will be better able financially to help those most in need before too long.

    This is something that people can participate in outside of the political process which will have a profound effect over time.
  3. Jason D from oh Canada, United States writes: 2-tier system, anyone?
  4. R. Carriere from Canada writes: I hope this does not deteriorate to Lib. Con. bashing as it has nothing to do with that. Again, the headline is somewhat misleading. First, Health Care is a Provincial jurisdiction! The Ferderal government has thrown money at the issue, and it is up to the Provinces to impliment. There were never any benchmarks before for accountability, and I see this as a first step to getting there. If one reads the entire article, it appears we are moving in the right direction. Before knocking any federal govt. (Liberal of Conservative) maybe the problem lies elsewhere. Could the problem be at the regional or hospital level? Are our public institutions being well managed? We are dealing with Monster budgets here and I ask, while keeping health care public, would these institutions be better MANAGED by the private sector?

    Whether we like it or not, private health care is being used by Canadians-either here in Canada, the US, or even India where a top notch procedure by the very educated Indians cost less then the uS even when factoring in air costs! So the question is, do we let this privately spent money leave the country, or do we react with a certain type of private health care in Canada that doea not upset the public sector? No agreeing to private care does not make it go away. There is a way!
  5. Mike Mitchell from Toronto, writes: Here is a summary of the majority of posters....From the right...the Liberals are still to blame...from the lelft...Clement didn't know what to do in Ontario and doesn't know what he's doing in Ottawa.

    Just remember, you dance with the person that brought you....but you'd hope they would know how to dance.
  6. Time Out from Canada writes: # 3 says 2 tier system anyone? Its already with us, only it isn't based on wealth as much as influence and privledge. And at the top of the heap, politicians and health care workers. If you are in a position to influence, step up to the front of the line. GG Clarkson perfect example. Ask the receptionist at the local hospital, or the head nurse in emerg. if they have any trouble getting service, and do you really think the head of oncology at any hospital in the country will wait two weeks? If you don't know anyone, move to the back of the line please.
  7. bruce robb from NYC, United States writes: A socialized medical sysyem does not work.
  8. The One and Only True PRAGMATIC PUNDIT Not those Phony LEFTY HACKS who pretend to be me from Canada writes: Nice headline G&M. The bleeding left will surely buy into your attempt to pin this on a 9 month old government. It took 13 years to break. At least give us a couple to clean up this libby boondogle.
  9. John Smith from Canada writes: #7 Bruce Robb you could very well be correct in your statement that a socialized medical system does not work. However, it is not relevant to the article or comments since Canada does not have a socialized medical system. Medical services are provided by private, non-profit corporations, not government. Physicians are private actors or employees of private, non-profit corporations. The third party payer in each provincial system (we do not have a 'Canadian' health care system) is the provincial government rather than insurance companies. One of the key pressures on the Canadian system is all Canadian have access to services. We could certainly entertain an American style system in which approximately 40 million people are not adequately covered - so we can just left them die without access to treatment or let them fall into bankruptcy (and then die as often the case with cancer) - American likes to hide its wait list in the grave. Many Canadians prefer an equitable system rather than one that kills through the dollar. American is recognized as having the worst health care system in the industrialized world. So in re-stating your simple statement, privatized health care fails the majority of Americans and therefore does not work. P.S. Now that you mention it Cuba does have a socializedmedical system and it actually performs better than the American system.
  10. A Fraser from Canada writes: Oh yeah another broken promise from the broken Harper government-they promised a wait times guarantee immediately after the election. Where is it??
  11. Robert Rose from Mont-Royal, Canada writes: Our 'tough talking', tiny minority, tiny toads ('Look, see my teeth? Nice, eh?') should put all their energy and all Canada's necessary resources into HEALTH, EDUCATION, INFRASTRUCTURES, CULTURAL AND SPORTS PROGRAMMES FOR THE YOUNG, DECENT LIVING AND CARE FOR THE OLD, A VIABLE ENVIRONMENT, and SUSTAINABLE GROWTH, instead of military expenses, military adventures such as in Afghanistan, military humanitarianism (i.e. attempting to reconstruct countries after destroying them ourselves), lecturing the world, and other such current niceties for their crickets to cheer. Observers and critics should take note these are indeed suggestions. They should pour in from 'right, left and centre' for the common good, in this country!...
  12. Swiss Nanton from Waterloo, Canada writes: John Smith I do not think that anyone is arguing for an American system at all, where we all agree that denying treatment to those who cant afford insurance is inhumane. Rather I can see how this article could be used to further justify a two-tiered health care system where those who can afford private treatment would have the opportunity to do so here in Canada.
  13. Kevin Jackson from United States writes: Comment #9 ... The American health outcomes are only slightly less than the Canadian outcomes according to WHO publications. Only slightly more than 10% of Americans fall into a gap without private health insurance but most Canadians dont understand that these people would never be left to die! There in a medicaid program for all but in some cases the patient is left with huge medical fees and deductables. This is the difference in a 'free' society however. The superior thing about the US system is 90% can get an MRI in 2 days. Cancer treatment is available immediately. In Pennsylvania where I practice the state makes sure everyone has access to healthcare! So be careful when you condemn the US, part of the difference between the US and Canada statistics is that the US has 10 times as many people and this alone may account for the minute statistical difference between the 2 coutries. By the way, sales tax in Ontario is 15% coupled with a OHIP deduction on your paycheck .... Sales tax in most states is 6% and health insurance is covered by the employer - who actually pays more .... Canadians might be surprised?
  14. A Canadian from Canada writes: John Smith from Canada, any numbers to back up your claim or are you just making it up as you go along in order support your point of view ?? We already have 2/3 tier system. Think for a second about what your life would be like in Canada, if you did not have private medical insurance through work. Using your words, I wonder how many people in this country are not adequately covered. We pay through the nose in taxes which is supposed to help pay for our medical system. Because over the years the government has cut back in services provided, the private medical insurance must pick up the slack which results in increased premiums. At the same time, the same medical insurance are also slowly reducing the maximum allowable in order to reduce their cost. So now, we pay even more for reduced or no services yet must wait unaccepable period of time to get this service. At least in the States, people dont get taxed to death and if they have medical insurance, they sure get prompt service. I would gladly pay their level of taxes. Even if I had to pay for my own medical insurace, lets say at 3,000.00 per year, I would still be ahead financially. Do the math. Contrary to popular belief, the american system also covers low income families. You said 'American likes to hide its wait list in the grave' and Canadian do not ??? I least in the States they do not died waiting for the service to be provided. I wonder which is worst, knowing you will died because you cant afford the treatment or because you are still on the waiting list.
  15. Anthony B from Sydney, NS, Canada writes: bruce robb from NYC, United States (#7) writes: 'A socialized medical system does not work' And a system which leaves 40 million Americans without health insurance does? The US is the only industrialized country without a public heath care system and this is will continue as long as Americans buy into the myth that a system controlled by 'for profit' insurance companies is best. As previous posters have stated, this is not a federal Lib/Con issue, since health care is a provincial matter. Yes, the Canadian systems have problems and the appropriateness and overuse of some services need to be addressed. But, no question, as our population continues to age and as current lifestyles contribute to a decline in 'healthiness,' all levels of government will have to increase health care funding. Meanwhile, we need to recognize that our current health care systems are really 'sickness treatment' systems. We need to start focussing on health promotion and sickness prevention.
  16. Thom as from Northern Ontario, Canada writes: Canadians have to smarten up, our healthcare problems will never go away under a government run system. Can any of you imagine the type of car you'd be driving if the government was in the auto manufacturing business, the cost and long waits for one to boot...just like the former USSR...give your collective heads a shake.
    If the government was in the auto manufacturing business they'd have to outlaw private so as to have a monopoly to be able to market their own poor product...any similaritys...
  17. jiri z from Canada writes: Sorry, I only read about half of that piece. Another shameful example of G&M reporting at its worst, including the headline.

    The whole premise of the report is dead wrong: so we hear how many times hospitals miss the 4 week goal. That's hardly a very important measure, you trouble mongers! We want to hear what is the actual waiting time instead.
    You see, if all hospitals make the patients wait 40 weeks - that would be bad indeed. But if all the actual waiting time is 4 weeks plus a day, that would be quite excellent. Of course, G&M would duly report 100% 'broken vows' in either case.

    Oh the sensations created in the newspaper backrooms!!!
  18. Coco Motion from Canada writes: #6-- I am a health care worker and there are zero priveleges in the system for my fellow workers. I personally know of a couple of guys (one neck injury and one knee injury) who are waiting patiently like the rest of Canada for MRI's and various other surgical consultations. I would think that people who actually need to get in for surgery (based on being a essential service and not a desk jockey) would be afforded that opportunity quickly. Does this mean everybody doesnt deserve fair treatment? Of course it doesnt. We truly need an overhaul of the system so people can get the medical attention they deserve and move on with their lives.

  19. Not the Alliance from In my opinion, the Harper Gov't is Incompetent, Canada writes: Remember those 'one a day' promises announced by Harper during the campaign? I guess they thought people wouldn't remember. This is another case of not understanding the depth of the problem but making a vacuous promise anyway to help get elected. Same underlying problem as the Trust promise.
  20. True North from Canada writes: Another failure by Steve Harper's government. And when Steve Harper's government's plans do not work: i) blame the previous government, ii) claim that, although they promised Canadians that they had a well thought plan that would work, claim that they have not had enough time yet (see point i). Unacceptable. Canada needs a real government; not a bunch of wannabes making excuses.
  21. Eric Kuelker from Abbotsford, Canada writes: A crucial issue here is why people are getting cancer in the first place. The occurrence of many cancers is due to people's behavioral choices, that they eat, drink, and smoke too much, and exercise too little. For example, an overweight, sedentary woman has more than double the risk of breast cancer compared to a slim, fit one. If we helped people make better behavioral choices, we would have fewer cases of cancer, and shorter wait times for cancer treatment.
  22. fedup taxpayer from ottawa, Canada writes: Well the Canada Health act is a joke. Quebec has been breaking it for years and no federal government has had the guts to go after them. As a result none of the other provinces are following the guidelines. Hopfully the new government will grow a spine and put the provinces on notice, fix things or get your funding cut.
  23. Canadian Patriot from United States writes: Poster #1 is bang on the mark! This latest Conservative so-called mess is completely the fault of the former Liberal government (if it can even be described as such). Every problem that the Conservatives have failed to solve or address since taking power is because that problem was the result of 13 years of Liberal waste and mismanagement. Only the successes of this Conservative government are their own. They should get total credit for the things they've done right, and we should blame the Liberals for everything they've done wrong. Isn't having your cake and eating it too a whole lot of fun?
  24. Ken Woodwords from Ottawa, Canada writes: Health care is a provincial jurisdiction. Harper like any other federal politicians promised reduced waiting times during the election campaign as one of his five priorities to get votes from uninformed (do you remember the days when they only talked about five priorities for simpletons?). We can not solve waiting times by pouring more money into the health care system. Efficient resource utilisation, shortage of staff, and streamlining of sharing patient data between institutions need to be addressed. Provinces must be accountable for the money they receive. The status quo of ‘give us the money we will take care of the health care’ is not acceptable.
  25. Ice Rider from Canada writes: Instant solution? Put Rona Ambrose on the job. Look at the way she solved the Kyoto conundrum.
  26. jason green from writes: bruce robb from NYC, United States (#7) writes: 'A socialized medical system does not work', and coming, as he does from the US, he would be an expert on systems that do not work.
  27. D Kearney from Halifax, Canada writes: More liberal mismanagement. I like the headline though...nice try by the Globe to pin this on the tories after several months in power.
  28. gary wilson from Calgary, writes: Wow, even people dying of cancer can be made into a politcal issue.
  29. Ian in Ottawa from Canuckistan, Canada writes: What??!! In nine months the Tories couldn't fix a failing sacred cow of a health care system? I am outraged!!
  30. Dawn Rebke from Onoway, Canada writes: I am a cancer survivor. On a personal note, having experienced this, I think more attention needs to be drawn to the emotional trauma of having to wait for treatment. Imagine knowing a life threatening illness is growing (and spreading) inside you, and being told you have to wait for surgury and then waiting again - day after day - for treatment. It is almost emotionally abusive and it is alot 'patience' to expect of patients. Politicians and doctors need to look closer at the emotional experience of the patient, when considering quality of life issues.
  31. William E. Demers from Toronto, Canada writes: We are just wasting money pouring it all into the public sector. Private healthcare will eliminate wait times and provide more competitive alternatives to the status quo.

    The public healthcare system is unrealistic and broken. Every year we are spending billions more of wasted tax dollars.
  32. Michael H from Edmonton, Canada writes: One of the major limitations in delivering radiation treatment on time is a shortage of radiation oncologists. Privitization or the establishment of a public-private health care system will do nothing in this environment except drive up health care costs by further stimulating wage inflation. #1-What the CPC failed to do was deliver additional funding to support their 'wait time guarantee'. Consequently, they achieved nothing. Many of the problems with the health care system right now can be traced back to reductions in medical school admissions several years ago. It is this shortage of trained physicians that is complicating the efficient delivery of health care. Again, privitization will only make matters worse. There are more practical and effective solutions such as reduce the patient load on physicians by employing more nurse-practitioners to deal with the least serious but most common health problems.
  33. Pierce Nettling from United States writes: Anyone supporting a US system is dumb.
    If any system is broken that is broken.
    If you think an all private system will make lines disappear well your wrong again. I had to wait in the ER once for a broken arm for a couple hours, when I got into the ER there were no patients no nobody. But yet I still had to wait for hours.
    I'm sick I go to this urgent care, I wait for hours to see the doctor there.
    And in America 40 million go the entire year without health insurance. 45 million go only part of the year with insurance. Thats almost a quarter of the population.
    I'm getting kicked off of a health insurance plan for no reason so I'll be joining the 40 million. Can't afford it by myself.
    And to say we pay less medical bills is nuts. My family spends 30,000 dollars a year in medical bills. Highly doubt anyone in Canada pays that much.
    I'm going broke. Thank you American System.
  34. Andrew Pearson from Montreal, Canada writes: To say that 'Medical services are provided by private, non-profit corporations, not government.' (Post #9) is just playing with words. This may be true from a strictly technical, legal point of view but in fact medical services ARE provided by the government, through intermediary organisations that have very little freedom of action.

    Here in Quebec we have a situation where twelve people have died as a result of 'C-difficile' infections in a hospital. A public enquiry has been announced and a class-action lawsuit for negligence is threatened. However, even if the enquiry eventually determines that the deaths were clearly avoidable, the people who could have prevented these deaths are unlikely to lose their jobs. If an eventual class-action lawsuit is successful and major damages are awarded, it will be the taxpayer who pays in the end, not the hospital administration. In other words, no individual or corporation will be held accountable in a way that might cause them to seriously reflect on their responsibilities. No one will be prevented from continuing to act as they have in the past. I like to think that if normal commercial interests were running these hospitals and something like this happened they would be held accountable in some meaningful way, such as having their liability insurance cancelled, making it impossible for them to continue in business.
  35. S W from Canada writes: Walk through WHAT is considered the treatment experience at Sunnybrook. Ask the hard working staff. So-called dire cases, (any of those that need this expensive critical care so you'd think), cancel appointments without calling in go shopping or to go to the cottage. Staff is left waiting. OR they run and and demand to be taken NOW! because of something else they want to do. Dutiful patients can get their appointments set back when 'the cottagers' arrive back and demand to be caught up. Some are allowed to arrive, AT WHIM, and get their treatment! The odd time a shrouded one arrives and is whistled through, NO WAITING or cue in. Muslim? Celebrity? Then, MANY don't know that there are night appointments, those go to the ones that have jobs, not always who might need them due to commuting times. Try and get a convenient appointment at the getgo! They are randomly assigned and it can be weeks before the computer can come up with something that fits into the patient's upturned life. This story ain't all about too many patients and not enough care facilities. There is a fair layer to patient abuse, systemic screw-up and bad design in the system. There is still too much laxity in the system. That needs addressing while money is being hunted for. Might go a fair way to curing the line-ups. When a care giver arrives and witnesses this stuff and is deeply affected by it, you have to wonder how it affects the patient. Perhaps cancer patients aren't all dying from re-occurances, natural disease progression etc. Is it bemusement? Fatigue with a system that has failed them? OR Is it just plain or quiet form of INSANITY?!!!!!!!!!!
  36. Valerie Spentzos from Vancouver, Canada writes: As a slim fit woman who runs 8kms every second day, and ran a half-marathon 4 years ago,yet was diagnosed with breast cancer, I get very angry at those ignorant people who think that a healthy lifestyle can ward off cancer. I am also a vegetarian, and buy organic food when it is available at the local Farmers' Market. A surgeon I spoke to assured me that there is no connection whatsoever between healthy lifestyle and prevention of breast cancer. Experts believe genetics play a major part in the development of cancer.
  37. T G from Canada writes: If you think our health care system is in a crisis now, just wait until the baby boomers retire! They are our largest demographic who are currently paying taxes and are still healthy and using little health care. Within the next ten years they will stop paying taxes and they will reach the age where they will require chronic and expensive medical interventions for medical conditions that they will develop.

    I am not necessarily advocating two tiered health care, but as a student about to enter the health care profession, I believe that the way our current public system is run is not feasible in the near future. Most experts would agree on this point, however the politicians are afraid of generating any debate about alternatives for fear that the public and opposition will accuse them of being 'un-Canadian'. Hopefully people will soon realize that there needs to be real debate about alternative ways to run our healthcare system. While I may not have the answers to fixing our system, hopefully through discussion one can be found eventually.
  38. Billy Bob from Canada writes: I read this article on paper. The statistics are very hard to believe. I was dumbfounded actaully. In my province I would need to wait an average of 11 weeks for treatment - in BC 11 days. Manitoba one week. One bloody week???

    We're right next door. Our economy is kicking butt - we're swimming in cash. We train healthcare staff here. Yet in this day and age I would have to wait 10 weeks LONGER for treatment than someone in Manitoba, 9 weeks than someone in Alberta and 4 weeks longer than someone in NFLD?

    If it were someone in my family, one of my sons or wife that is 10 weeks of waking up each morning to agonize waiting and knowing full well that just next door wait times are a FRACTION of what they are here.

    A few weeks ago my Provincial government announced a cut in the provincial sales tax of 2% - at a cost of 150 million a year. Our economy has been doing very very well and this is nothing more than a pre election give away.

    I don't know about you but I think a $150 million a year could go along way in shaving down our wait times, perhaps help get us that childrens hospital that our province is still without?

    Either way infreakingcreadable.

    I would like to sincerely thank the GM for doing this article. This upcoming provincial election I will certainly be asking questions related to this issue.
  39. S M from Vancouver, Canada writes: A strategy out of the New Conservative playbook, blame anyone else for their shortcomings, especially the Liberals. Indeed, 10 months is not enough time to fix a problem of this magnitude, however, it is long enough to have done something to improve the situation. Has it been done?
  40. Nanci InBCsomewhere from Canada writes: I find it hard to believe that anyone would be naive enough to blame any federal gov't for this one. Health care is firmly in the hands of the provinces and all the feds can do is throw money at the problem. This being said, I can't believe the number of people who fell for yet another one of Stevo's impossible dreams(read lies). In BC the issue seems to be that all gov't services are so top heavy with beaurocrats that are about to lose balance. Every time there is an announcement that more federal dollars are coming this way, the lib gov't here immediately sets up another layer of beaurocracy at a cost of millions to oversee the expenditure of that money. By the time the cash gets through to the populace it is greatly reduced and therefore no where near as effective as it should have been. Why can there be no better way to do this. Surely the plethera of beaurocrats already hired on can make these decisions without needing massive bonuses and/or greatly enlarged staff and/or a special panel. The need for extra people or compensation for taking on work that they were hired to do just seems wrong. Until we stop the waste inherent in the system, it will never work.
  41. Jimmy K from Toronto, Canada writes: We can’t reduce waittimes unless we get MORE doctors, MORE operating rooms, MORE nurses, and MORE technicians. All extra healthcare monies have been going into increasing salaries. Perhaps they deserve to get paid more, but that is a different issue for a different day, we can’t reduce wait times until we start training more people and investing in the infrastructure. Ontario is doing a good job right now building an actual health care system as opposed to just a big decentralized insurance plan, but eventually that is not going to create enough efficiencies to get the results we want. Health care needs more people, more infrastructure, and that is going to have to be paid for, either through user fees or higher taxes. Pick your poison, nothing in this world is free and it’s naïve for Canadian’s to think we can sustain our tax rates while having scandanavian style health care for all. And A. Fraser, What happened to the outrage?
  42. c w from United States writes: Even in its' current state, the canadian health care system is still much much better than the US system. In addition to the 40 million americans with no insurance, there are many many more that have insurance inadequate to cover a major medical condition like cancer. I spend 6% of my salary on health insurance and the cap on any medical condition is so low that I would be S.O.L. if I got cancer in the states. If I break a leg, I'm ok, but beyond that...
  43. Ranald Walton from Hamilton, Canada writes: Completely unfair postings such as #10, 19 and 20 underline how this issue has been reduced to a political football, with public discussions taking place at the demagogical and superficial level. Healthcare run the same way as the Soviets built Ladas will create the same result: a crappy product at a high price. There is nothing ethical about dying while waiting for public health services. Milton Friedman in his book 'Free to Choose' (from 1980 I believe) predicted correctly the mess our Canadian healthcare system would be in. Unfortunately things will get a lot worse before the political will is created for the obvious and only solution: a private alternative. The Canadian system is not sustainable and let's hope some government (Conservative, NDP or Liberal) in the future has the political backing to fix it.
  44. Ken Olshaski from Calgary, Canada writes: Valerie (#36), I hope you are doing better. I agree with the experts you referred to. I had a sister in law die this spring of cancer. She was only 49 years old. Her mother, sister and brother all died of the disease. It is an absolute tragedy and so totally unfair that people have to deal with this hideous disease through no fault of their own. Dawn (#30), I absolutely agree with you. It must be absolutely devastating to know you have something and you must wait for treatment. God I hope some day (and soon) there will be a cure.
  45. Scot Loucks from Pickering, Canada writes: Totally misleading headline regarding a situation that apparently only #4 R. Carriere has a full understanding of. For those blaming the current federal government, you are truly pathetic, for those blaming it all on the liberals, you are almost as bad.
  46. Clark W. Griswold from Great America, United States writes: I needed an MRI. Got it in two hours. The two hospitals in my city each have two machines.
    Socialized medicine doesn't work. Period.
  47. Eric Kuelker from Abbotsford, Canada writes: I mentioned earlier that we have such long wait times for cancer because our behavioral choices are causing far more cases of cancer of the breast and other locations. The scientific research on the link between our behavioral choices and risk of breast cancer is clear, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer published results in the medical journal, Oncologist. 2003;8(4):326-34. The risks for cancer from poor behavioral choices range from 25% to 250% higher than if people make good choices about eating, fitness, alcohol use, etc.
    Being slim, fit, and eating appropriately will not completely prevent breast cancer, or any cancer, but it will drastically reduce the odds of developing it. If we had a system that focused on preventing cancer by helping us make better behavioral choices, we would have far fewer cases of cancer, and thus shorter wait times for treatment.
  48. Owain Young from Panama, Panama writes: I wasn't going to read the comments today, as I knew there would be an overflow of posters blaming the Globe and Mail for the problem. Finally I gavr in, and the usual defend-Harper-and-blame-the-media gang were out in force. Surely the point is a moral one. Don't make unrealistic promises that you know you can't keep. IOf course you can't immediately shorten waiting lists, so why imply that you can? That's fraud. Is that what they teach on the reilgious right? And for those defending the Americam system, you forgot to mention the high monthly insurance premiums, the caps on treatment expenses, and dewcisins on treatment in the hands of insurance assessors. Yes, the Canadian system needs fixing, but not by running away from a plan that benefits most Do we need hospitals and doctors governed by the market place and the need to make a profit?
  49. John Smith from Canada writes: #13 Kevin Jackson, glad to hear the estimated 10% in Pennsylvania get all the health care they need even though they are not insured through any program including government (the national average is more like 15% going up to about 25% in good old Texas). Sounds great. Why would anyone bother with health insurance period since you can get full care for all conditions and treatments without it. Why would you go into bankruptcy (health care costs being a signficiant factor in many U.S. cases) since you can get full care for all conditions and treatments without paying. Guess its a case of you can have your 'free' society and free health care too!!! Who would of guessed it. As for Canadians spending more, it is to laugh. We know that U.S. spending on health is somewhere around 16% of GDP, by far and away the most of any industrialized country. Canada is somewhere in the area of 10% (including private spending). But wait, Kevin assures us that even though the US spends far more, it costs them less. Not sure how that adds us but it is just too wonderful to be true - only in America can the rules of basic mathematics be ignored. Sign me up.
  50. jiri z from Canada writes: Hello, Nanci InBCsomewhere (what a handle! What imagination!) # 40:
    Read # 38 please. Your BC wait time is 11 days - you should be singing praises instead of spewing manure.
  51. Gary Dare from Portland, Oregon, Canada, writes: Since the early 90's, I have seen the health care systems (if you can call them that) on both Canada and the US go downhill as a consumer. Kevin Jackson's assertions are a bit outdated, two thirds of folks with coverage are in HMO's (commercial versions of the UK National Health Service) while only 10% remain in fee-for-service which used to be the norm on my first time through the States. But access to a MRI will be fairly quick, a week or a couple rather than a month or a couple. But beware that so many MRI's are around in the US for defensive medicine not diagnosis. Still, additional capacity is slack that we have lost in Canada as our system became flatter. When living in Ontario during the extra-billing era of the 80's, that was the best system that I experienced in Canada and it is still around; only that it's in France. We have a de facto 2-3 tier system, critics and supporters should visit Paris to get an idea of what we used to have and can go back to. Yes, it's expensive but the US approach is most expensive and skewed up the income scale, too many experiences like Pierce Nettling are becoming common. (And as for taxes, do note how much money is borrowed from China and Japan by DC and more by their states and cities. Even then, in a high tax, high cost of living blue state, your total tax outlay can hit Alberta or BC levels nowadays even with the portion deferred by public debt.)
  52. J T from Canada writes: I have a question. It took 4 odd weeks to wait for an appt with Dr Pickles and it's now down to 3 odd weeks and he plans to get it down to under 2 weeks. How is that calculated? What if I'm busy and i want my appt next week but he could have seen me tomorrow? Does that count as 1 week?

    You're never going to get that wait time down to zero and the lower the wait time becomes, the less impact you have on people because you're approaching the fastest time it takes to book an appt.

    I bet if there were ZERO delays in booking (ie. you could book today for an appt today), the wait time would still be 2-5 days because people are busy and not all want to come in immediately.
  53. Jed McGarry from Canada writes: I would agree that the provinces are to blame. I cannot comprehend how my province (Alberta) does not have the best health care system in the world with all the profits and surpluses we're running up. This oil boom won't last forever, but while it does, let's stop handing out $400 cheques in the mail and start investing in health care. It's sad that none of the PC leadership candidates have a solution to this and instead, continue trying to work with 'the third way.'
  54. David Griffith from Nova Scotia, writes: Another glaring example of a Liberal promise that the Conservatives end up wearing. Like Kyoto. So many Liberal messes to clean up, and the Conservatives haven't cleaned them all up in 10 whole months! The Libs had over a dozen years, and the Tories less than one. In Canada's political system and media, thats about as even as it gets.
  55. Charles Wirrell from Cranbrook, B.C., Canada writes: The entire waiting system is unconscionable unless the government allows folks to pay for their own care.
    As it stands we are forced to either wait, at the cost of our very lives or we must travel to the U.S. or another foreign country where we have NO support system for recovery or we must travel home to Canada before we are really capable.
  56. Scot Affleck from Prince George, Canada writes: Hmmm? No wait times fer my dentist. But then he takes my cash or credit card or even heaven forbid, my dental plan. Gadzooks!! My oh my!! How that works, eh?
  57. Scot Affleck from Prince George, Canada writes: Waiting times, eh? Are those'business weeks?' or are they 'calendar weeks?'. Jest wunderin'.
  58. S W from Canada writes: Number 36: If you haven't already, do look into the writings of Dr. John McDougall. You are 'getting fed' the standard medical marlarkie. How much do doctors know about nutrition given their few hours of tuition in med. school? Not much. McDougall's expertise produces results via prevention. Sadly missing so far in most of the cancer research. Check out the Mesley investigative program on the CBC... Race for the Cure, I believe the title was. Odd that our genes have gone so bad all of a sudden... but we mustn't talk about environmental toxins or petroleum industry repercussions via industry and the car?
  59. Charles Wirrell from Cranbrook, B.C., Canada writes: Poster #52 is either a medical wait list supporter or he has NEVER had to wait for medical care. I'm on a medical waitlist and have been for the past 5 months. I have repeatedly told the surgeons office that if there is ANY cancellation I WILL be there. That has not happened, nor do I expect it to because folks who are waiting for surgery WILL move mountains to make their appointments when they finally come up months later than originally 'promised'.
    I can assure this poster that the medical wait times in Canada are by no means as short as possible.
  60. Billy Bob from Saskatchewan from Canada writes: Actually #50 my wait time IS 11.9 weeks, not the 11 day BC time, as per the GM's information in today's printed edition. I didn't say I was in BC. I am in fact in Saskatchewan, hence why I am so ticked off at this. Please take your own advice and read my comments again before insulting others off handedly.
  61. N__ Liberale from burlington, Canada writes: If you righties are okay with paying a minimum of 1000 dollars a month for your family to access services they pobbly wonèt use(medicare), thats fine.....Of course 1000 a month gets you a spot at the crappiest hospitl in town, but hey at least health care would be n private hands
  62. Billy Bob from Saskatchewan from Canada writes: Oops - I took my own advice smacks own head sorry bout the #50.
  63. c w from United States writes: #53 has a good point. Alberta is rolling in money and should have no wait time issue. The problem is that government is actively trying to have the health care system fail so that they can have a 2-tier system, claiming the current system doesn't work. The fact is private health care costs more because it creates duplication of very expensive equipment in cases where it is not necessary. Private health care only works well for the wealthy.
  64. John Smith from Canada writes: #56 Scot Affleck from Prince George be glad you have a dental plan. Many don't and children from impoverished families often suffer significant dental problems that plague them for the rest of their life - not to mention other related physical health problems. One dentist I know prided himself on his ability to screen out families 'who might be a problem for payment'. Not to worry, good old dentists fill their time doing cosmetic procedures to pay for their cottage and sailboat. And have you checked out the cost of cancer treatment lately, a wee bit more than having a cavity filled or even a root canal.
  65. frank walsh from mississauga, Canada writes: I have a couple of questions:
    1. Why, in Ontario are we being charged an extra tax for health care and we have the worst wait times? The money is being spent on ads to promote our idiotic premier.
    2. should the clock start ticking from the day you are diagnosed not the day you are deemed treatable? this is absolute common sense. in light of this you are waiting 8-9 weeks. D day for all cancer patients is the day they receive the deadly news.
    3. why are hospitals undergoing billion dollar renovations i.e Southlake in Newmarket and patients in that area have to travel to Sunnybrooke to receive cancer treatments? The hospital in Newmarket has beautiful new tiles in the entrance but NO cancer treatment available for its patients. misdirected funds!!!!!!
    we all need to stop being sheep and starting pushing back and questioning misguided funds and to the previous post's point, holding people accountable for missed appointments and abuse of the system.
  66. Dawn Rebke from Onoway, Canada writes: Another factor many people don't understand is that wait times are multiplied by the number of interventions reauired. For example, in my case there was a wait for the ultrasound, a wait to see a specialist for diagnosis, a wait for a biopsy, a wait for the surgury date, a wait to get in to see an oncologist, and then a wait for treatment. You cannot tell me there was not some spreading going on in that time. 4 weeks is way to long and we need to look at these other wait times.

    I am with you #36. It is horredous and uncompassionate to blame the patient, especially when evidence shows that genetics, viral activity, chemical activity in the body, and contaminants in the environment and in the food we eat, are all strong factors. I have never smoked, have worked out most of my life, and I have been a vegetarian for twenty years, yet I got cancer. In fact the type of cancer I got is suspected to be linked to an x-ray treatment they where giving to children to cure tonsil problems!
  67. Chris Ginn from Calgary, Canada writes: Wake up Canada! People wait months for a diagnosis then up to 3 months to start treatment. I have a number of friends or their relatives who are doing so and dying in the process or in such a serious condition by the time they get treatment that the treatment is ineffective. We have been in Canada a year from Australia. Have also lived in France and UK. Their systems are far superior. Especially Australia. They have a 2 tier system. Everyone is 100% covered with max $25 per prescription. If you choose to go private you choose your specialist, go to a private hospital, better food, private room and TV. Public don't get the frills but otherwise it's the same. In ER in the public system you complain if you wait 2 hours. In Calgary 5 hours is normal, 8 not uncommon. Australians complain as did we. Since coming to Calgary we've seen the light. The private system alleviates the public system. A wait for something minor to see a specialist in Oz is fast: 3 months is considered a long wait. The occasional specialist is 6 months: that is terrible. Fortunately you can go to a different one. There is choice. If you suspect cancer you can see you family doctor the same day. If he/she agrees the test will be the same day or the next, when you also get the result. If it's confirmed you are in hospital that day or a few days later. Maybe the Canadians should be talking to the Australians? Here in Alberta, you pay fully for prescriptions unless you have private insurance. You pay for ambulance unless you have private insurance. These are covered for everyone in Australia. You see a specialist here you pay for any testing (I have to pay $25 to an allergy specialist next week). And they say the Canadian system is free? I don't think so! Having got through the urban legends surrounding the US system, it seems a lot better. People we know have confirmed it. Other than a few cities, housing is much cheaper, tax less, wages more. This covers insurance if you want it. You have a choice.
  68. Lawrence Davis from United States writes: Great blog with lots of useful information and excellent commentary! Thanks for sharing.

Comments are closed

Thanks for your interest in commenting on this article, however we are no longer accepting submissions. If you would like, you may send a letter to the editor.

Report an abusive comment to our editorial staff


Alert us about this comment

Please let us know if this reader’s comment breaks the editor's rules and is obscene, abusive, threatening, unlawful, harassing, defamatory, profane or racially offensive by selecting the appropriate option to describe the problem.

Do not use this to complain about comments that don’t break the rules, for example those comments that you disagree with or contain spelling errors or multiple postings.

Back to top