What do Canadians thinks of when they consider the value of Medicare? They may think of “long wait times” for procedures in hospitals (but this is not a fault of the system, as will be shown). Most likely, however, they think of free medical care on demand, without the necessity to pay for medical services.
“All around the world, Canada is held in high esteem for its approach to health care. Founded on the twin principles of universality and accessibility, the Canadian approach means, in theory, that the provision of care is based on need, not ability to pay. Canadian Medicare emerged in response to poverty, not plenty. This was the founding vision of Tommy Douglas, widely acclaimed as the “Father of Medicare,” and it has continued to serve and inspire Canadians, who rightly regard health care as their single most valued social program…. Public confidence in the system has been regularly tested: before the advent of Medicare in the 1930s during the Great Depression; in the 1950s when negotiations failed to secure federal government’s participation; in the 1960s when Medicare’s introduction in Saskatchewan was opposed by a doctors’ strike; and in the 1980s when the system was weakened by the imposition of “user fees.” Each time, the “right” to health care as a basic right of citizenship was challenged, and each time the fundamental values prevailed. Canada’s history and experience display a steadfast desire for equal treatment, revealing in the process important lessons about the interface between the health of individuals and the health of their society. We have learned that equity pays off. We have learned that striving for equity means making sure everyone gets access to the same timely and best available care, but that sometimes it means that interventions need to be targeted to the most vulnerable groups.” (my italics)—Monitor, “Medicare’s core values,” periodical of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), Armine Yalnizyan, May 2006, p. 2
What happens when a society fails to recognize the importance of equality between its citizens?
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