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A Canadian Perspective of Socialized Medicine

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I am a dual citizen of both Canada and the United States. I was born and raised in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, while frequently visiting my father’s side of the family in Ferndale, Washington. When it comes to healthcare I have seen both countries—their freedoms and limitations, as well as the effects of those things—in a personal way.

First, Canadians have no understanding of what socialism is, never mind why it might be a bad idea. We know we are taxed to death. We know what the numbers say on our paychecks; we know we only take home a fraction of what we worked so hard to make. Yet we call our health care “free,” as if it had no cost to us. Somehow Canadians aren’t connecting the dots. We are told that getting robbed blind by our government is for the greater good of the general public, and that is all we know. We seem to be okay with that, only for lack of education, I fear.

Here is the problem with socialism: what happens when the funding for universal “free” health care runs out? We see Canadians petition outside of hospitals, angry that the government has cut certain services and they want these services restored. My father asked these petitioners once, while checking himself into the hospital one day, “What exactly are you asking the government to do—increase our taxes or increase our premiums?” They stood there speechless.

The masses aren’t connecting the dots.

This “free” healthcare is not free. The money has to come from somewhere. It doesn’t grow on trees; it doesn’t just appear out of thin air, although this has been attempted via fiat stimulus injections. No, it comes from us. Looking us square in the eyes, the Canadian government has reached right into our pockets, pulled out our wallets and taken what they wanted. No questions asked. This is beyond theft.

We have become economic hostages. I was under the impression that slavery was done away with long ago, however we have a new form of slavery. We are slaves to our government and it’s publicly funded programs. We welcomed it, we’ve preached it, and we school our kids in it.

Well friends, for those who think that Canada’s healthcare system is a more ideal way of doing things, I’m happy to let you in on a few things. We pay not only in tax money, but also in lost time and lack of care. We wait many hours in the ER waiting room with broken limbs, etc., only to be told there are no more beds available in our brand new, top-of-the-line hospital. In my own case, I was a teenager hemorrhaging in ER and waited several hours until a doctor could finally see me. I waited another eight hours before I was treated. Since that time, I have been unable to deliver any of my children in my own city hospital because the maternity ward was shut down years ago, due to cut backs. I had to travel to another city while in labor. That was fun. And now, there are serious attempts to shut down the entire hospital altogether. No hospital for the city of Mission. A brand new hospital was opened in our sister city Abbotsford, and within a month of it’s opening, I read article upon article in the local newspaper of how it was over-congested, there weren’t enough beds, and patients were being transferred to yet other hospitals.

On August 18, 2009, the Abbotsford Times posted an article in response to the massive cuts we are facing in the Fraser Valley and reported that

'despite a $96 million cash infusion from the province—4.9 per cent more than last year—the FHA was still facing a $160 million budget shortfall. Murray said the decisions to cut funding for senior's programs, mental health counseling and help to victims of domestic violence were difficult, but necessary…. Other measures to save money include limiting MRI tests to 2008 levels—despite the addition of two new MRI scanners at hospitals in White Rock and Burnaby—delaying between 6,000 and 9,000 elective surgeries like hip or knee replacements and cataract surgery—until some time in 2010 after the Olympics, and getting rid of temporary residential-care beds'.

Another example of the Canadian health system in my family: Several years back, my father, who was a Christian school principle at the time, was suffering from a hernia. He was diagnosed in November. He did some research and found that there was a ten percent recurrence rate for the average person who has a hernia surgery and does not have a particular mesh applied. Since he is quite athletic and involved in activities such as bodybuilding and martial arts, he would require that a mesh be put in. His doctor refused. He was also told that he would miss work for three to four weeks; it would take two weeks before he could walk, and six before he could resume any activity in the gym.

December went by, January went by, February went by, and still we had no word from the hospital for a surgery date. By now he had lost a lot of weight and was not functioning well. Finally in March he went down to the Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle, Washington. He was immediately assessed by a doctor there who was horrified at his condition. The only question that was asked was “What day do you want in?” They scheduled a surgery immediately. This American doctor had him walking two miles within a couple days, back in the weight room in ten days, and he only missed one day of work. Four months later, in July, he got a call from the hospital in British Columbia: they were finally ready to schedule his surgery. He replied, “Thanks, but I would have been dead had I waited for you.”

His U.S. doctor also commented on how many Canadians are sent to that particular hospital every year. In the meantime, my father learned of 23 British Columbians who died waiting for heart operations that year.

One article reports how many Canadian patients are fleeing to the US, desperate for proper and timely treatment that they are unable to get in Canada. It is also reported that the Canadian cancer-death rates are twice as high compared to US rates, even though cancer incident rates are very similar. Is there a connection? Canadians aren’t connecting the dots.

Canadians also have no concept of the fact that our doctors are employees of the State. You know how we all want a certain thing called “customer service”? Well you can essentially wave goodbye to that with a universal health care system. No more competition. Why would secretaries at the front desk even be polite to you if you are not the one who directly pays their salary? If you walk out of their office dissatisfied, they really don’t care because there’s always someone else standing in line.

My father experienced what he says was a “Night and Day” difference between the care, concern, friendliness, and pleasant attitudes of the entire medical staff at the Virginia Mason Hospital. In Canada it is not unusual to have a rude awakening right there at the front desk.

One more example of what socialized medicine will do for you. Once upon a time there were two young doctors looking to set up a practice and found a great little community that was in need of a clinic in Enderby, BC. They applied. They were rejected. There was no funding for them. The end.

When doctors are employees of the State and all of our medical services depend on a socialized system, it doesn’t matter if there is a need. It doesn’t matter if there is a viable community crying out for help. When the funding has run out, that is the end of the story, folks.

Canadians haven’t connected the dots and apparently, the US hasn't either.

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