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Letter: Union politics?

Letter: Union politics?

The debate over the new extended care facility has been characterized as a fight for public health care. The essential elements of a public health care system are that it is publicly funded and that access is on the basis of need. A privately operated facility on contract to VCH is fully consistent with those elements – it’s the same arrangement that pays the bill when you see your doctor.

Canada is the only wealthy, developed country that maintains a government monopoly on the provision of hospitalized care and payment of physicians. Not coincidentally, our system is consistently rated as one of the poorest performing in the developed world. The authoritative Commonwealth Fund rates Canada as 10th of 11 large developed countries in terms of the quality of its health care system – only marginally ahead of the U.S. Their study is readily available on line. We have the longest waits for medical care in the developed world and our hospitals have very high readmission and infection rates. The World Health Organization and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development come to similar conclusions. All of those countries whose systems work so much better than ours provide universal publicly funded care using a mix of public and private facilities and providers. They benefit from competition, innovation and management flexibility. We, in turn, suffer under an inefficient, inflexible, slow and bureaucratically bloated monopoly.

I suspect that union politics and anti-market ideology are more important than improving and expanding our extended care capacity to many of the most vocal opponents. Those opposed to the new facility would perpetuate a broken model.

Trellis runs two facilities in BC and they both meet or exceed the number of care hours per patient mandated in their contracts with the health authorities. I’m confident they can do the same in Sechelt.

Keith Maxwell, Sechelt

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