Dr. Brian Day @DrBrianDay Twitter

  • Past President Canadian Medical Association
  • Past President Arthroscopy Association of North America
  • Honourary Associate Professor University of British Columbia
  • 2014 Doctors of BC Don Rix Leadership Award

Dix's solution to health care troubles lacks common sense

May 10, 2011

Vancouver Sun

“ ... You have to wonder how they (NDP leadership candidates) would propose to spur job creation and economic growth, when they had such great difficulty finding a good word to say about the private sector.”

Vaughn Palmer, Vancouver Sun, March 11 2011

It is ironic that Adrian Dix (“Socialized medicine is good for B. C. business,” Vancouver Sun, May 4) has, after winning the NDP leadership, morphed into a supporter of private sector investment and enterprise. To justify a health scheme that leaves millions of patients suffering on wait lists, on the basis that it will improve our business environment, is hypocritical and insincere. Canada’s health system is ranked near the bottom of OECD countries, and was last in value for money compared with 29 European countries.

In comparison with other highly developed countries, we are last in access to emergency room care, new technology, and a family doctor. Just last week it was reported that surgeries for children are being unacceptably delayed, leading to lifelong consequences and complications.

The paradox is that the NDP has adopted a Jekyll and Hyde approach to private health care. In B. C. an NDP government presided over the largest growth of private clinics in Canadian history.

Our own Cambie Surgery Centre, the largest of its type in Canada, was launched in the middle of the 10-year term of the NDP provincial government. We have treated NDP politicians, union leaders and their families, who profess to be proponents of a purely public system but abandon such pretences when it comes to themselves.

Even the federal NDP leader, Jack Layton, checked himself into a private for-profit clinic when he needed hernia surgery.

The previous provincial NDP government was a significant investor in a private for-profit corporation that built private clinics in foreign countries and recruited B. C. doctors and nurses to leave and work abroad in their facilities.

The former NDP government also reduced medical school places, contributing to the legacy that five million Canadians lack a family doctor and leaves B. C. with a world ranking of 26th in the numbers of doctors. We were previously ranked fourth.

Dix expresses satisfaction with the status quo, while enjoying a “two-tier” taxpayer funded platinum private health plan.

He receives personal privileges and benefits that many ordinary citizens lack. The poor and underprivileged in Canada suffer from the worst health access and outcomes. Dix and his party seem content to maintain their own elite status.

During a 35-year period, government spending on health care in Canada has risen 50 per cent. Combined spending (public and private) has doubled as a percentage of GDP since the 60s.

Health care now consumes almost half of our provincial budget. And we still perform poorly. It is time to offer a public-private hybrid system that delivers timely care to all – rich and poor alike.

Canada’s health system was ranked 30th overall by the World Health Organization, while the U. S. ranked 37th. Countries like Austria, Holland, France, Switzerland and Germany rank in the top six, and deliver cost effective care to all without wait lists. Current B. C. legislation prevents us from adopting European models.

According to the Supreme Court of Canada, such laws are in violation of the Charter of Rights. Since this is playoff time, I will pose a question. “If we were the 30th-ranked hockey team, would we continually compare ourselves to the 37th-rated team?” That appears to be the approach of Dix and his supporters. Anyone with more than an ounce of common sense would look to the top six.

Brian Day

Dr. Brian Day, an orthopedic surgeon, is a former president of the Canadian Medical Association and founder of the Cambie Surgery Centre.