Statement of Principles (Part 1: Healthcare)

IMG_1679.jpegIn this age of rising political tribalism, there some parties are encouraged to see their opponents not as well-meaning-but-misguided individuals but as treacherous enemies who are out to destroy the country, it's only natural for the political discourse to get... heated. I confess to be guilty of this. On Twitter and other social media, seeing people deny basic facts to their face and seek to disrupt and "own" rather than actually debate, it's hard to keep one's temper.

It's been asked, how do you deal with an angry and vocal minority that have been fed a steady diet of rage who believe with all of their heart that the sky is green? I've said before that the task of bringing some of these people back to civil society will be akin to de-programming individuals from a cult. Can you argue with a group of people who think all of the above about me -- when for some of whom, de-programming is an act of kindness, and taking a gun to me is the more straightforward option?

But as the invective rises, maybe a solution is to reaffirm -- somewhere, anywhere, perhaps on this blog -- what it is that I actually want. Why do I vote the way I do? What do I believe in? Who, really, am I?

I've been writing this blog for over twenty years. If you really want to know who I am, and you have a lot of time on your hands, maybe start at the beginning and read on to the end.

But to save you time, let me make a few statements. I'll occasionally post these when the mood takes me. Take it or leave it, but it's what I believe in, and it's up to you if you feel I'm naive for thinking so. I'd be fascinated to see why someone would think I was malicious or evil.

Let's start with health care.

I believe that access to health care is a human right. Everybody should get the best medical care possible to meet their needs, and they shouldn't have to pay for it. If you believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, along with peace, order and good government, this is critical to life (and the pursuit of happiness, peace and order). One shouldn't have to take on debt in order to have a child. One should not risk medical bankruptcy to deal with cancer. Everyone should be guaranteed life-saving attention should they have a heart attack or end up in a serious traffic accident. And everyone has a right to die with dignity, free from pain, and this should be put on society's bill.

Before Ontario Premier Doug Ford mishandled the COVID pandemic, our medical system wasn't perfect, but it addressed most of these needs. My father had a heart attack and received life-saving bypass surgery, and wasn't charged a penny. My wife and I had two kids, and the only things we were out of pocket for were hospital parking and phone charges. My mother passed away from pancreatic cancer, but did so at home, with all the necessary care to ensure her passing was peaceful, and we didn't have to take out a loan for it. I did have to wait two years on a waiting list to receive surgery to correct cataracts but had the surgery taken place in America, I'd likely only have been able to get it if I had a good private insurance plan, and if I didn't have that, there would have been a good chance that I'd be left to go blind.

Today, thanks to Ford's incompetence (and, in other provinces, the incompetence of their premiers), several emergency rooms risk closure, doctors and nurses are seriously overworked, and there is an increasing crisis in the sector, even before the winter high-season. Ford has explicitly raised the possibility of looking at private options to try and solve the problems they created, and some have noted that this is an opportunity for the sort of questionable corruptive relationships that these Conservatives have engaged in, in the past. The recent legislation to shove seniors out of hospitals and into long-term care beds without their consent in order to free up beds takes on a new light when you consider how much of a stake Conservative backers like former premier Mike Harris have in private Long Term Care facilities.

I'm not dogmatically opposed to private companies running public services. I have seen that it can work (Service Ontario is not a bad operation, and Waterloo's ION LRT operates well and was delivered reasonably on budget). As long as the government can ensure that every individual receives quality health care when they need it, without encountering costs, then I'd be happy with that. However, can private companies provide that quality of service, without increasing the costs to the taxpayers compared to simply putting more money and attention into the public system that already exists? Colour me skeptical. And any move that shoves medical costs on the individuals who encounter medical problems is a non-starter for me. Our system could do with a lot of improvement, but I know from experience that the American model is one we cannot follow -- where medical costs are the leading cause of personal bankruptcies, and one reason why the average American dies carrying over $60,000 in personal debt.

So, as it looks like we're heading into a debate over how or whether we maintain or improve our health care system, this is where i stand: access to health care is a human right. Everybody deserves it. It shouldn't cost them a thing. I see it as just a necessary state of human dignity; without it, we're diminished as species.

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