Friday, October 13, 2006

Top Four Leadership Candidates' Healthcare Comparison

This comparison is compiled by CTV descriptions of the candidates' views on Healthcare; you can view each here (look on right sidebar). For a more accurate source I advise reading each respective candidate's website. These descriptions were written fairly early so they lack current policies, however there are one or two surprises.

Below the list I will enlist my own comments on the healthcare views.

Gerard Kennedy

Although Kennedy has not published a sweeping platform on health care, he has made comments that make his position clear on controversial issues.

Kennedy has called on the Harper government to continue federal funding of a safe injection site in Vancouver, saying it was a program that saved lives and protects the weakest strata of our society.

"Insite saves lives and is a Canadian social and medical success story," Kennedy said in a statement.

"Of the 336 users who overdosed, the experienced professionals at the site performed life saving interventions and helped provide thousands of users with harm reduction strategies to reduce crime and prevent the spread of disease."

Kennedy also called on Harper to attend the 2006 AIDS conference when the prime minister cited a scheduling conflict, saying he should do the right thing.

"The eyes of the world will be on Canada and it will be a national embarrassment that the head of state of the host country refused to attend," he said.

"Tackling this disease internationally requires the firm resolve of all nations, and Canada has played a significant and pioneering role in the fight to date."
When Kennedy resigned as a Toronto MPP, he reminded constituents of his accomplishments on the health-care front.

He said that highlights during his tenure included significant funding for St. Joseph's Health Care Centre, which resulted in reduced wait times for cancer treatment, hip replacements and cataract surgery.

He also said that while in opposition, he worked with members of the community to stop health care and education cutbacks.

Stephane Dion

Dion has expressed comfort with private practice playing a limited role within Canada's health system, saying most family doctors practice in their own offices and send patients to get blood work or tests in private laboratories anyway.

"But this private sector involvement should in no way jeopardize the five principles of the (Canada Health Act)," Dion added, "notably universal access."

He says what Quebec Health Minister Dr. Phillippe Couillard is trying to accomplish in his province is a good way to engage the private sector. That is, focusing the sector on diagnostic tests, "in a way that strengthens the public sector and universal access to the system as a whole."

Dion said he's for giving significant federal transfers to the provinces so that they have the power to improve their health systems, but within the parameters of the CHA.

"I want to do much more to improve Aboriginal health, increase health research, promote healthy lifestyles and sports activities," said Dion. "I want to put in place a better Canadian drug approval process, and better international cooperation on dealing with pandemics that we must prevent in Canada."

Michael Ignatieff

Ignatieff's health-care strategy so far offers no specifics. In a Maclean's piece in September, he declared that the federal government has a legitimate role under the Canada Health Act to ensure that all Canadians have access to publicly-funded health care.

But he has described health care as a "provincial jurisdiction" which the federal government should play an overseer's role in.

In a speech to the Canadian Club of Calgary in May, he seemed to exhibit openness toward Alberta's desire to pave its own path to medicare.

"Albertans, like all Canadians, believe that Canadian citizenship implies equal access to quality health care paid for out of general taxation," he said.

"Yet each province is bound to experiment about how to best balance the imperatives of equal access and cost control. The federal government can't enforce equality with a big stick, certainly not against Alberta."

He described the best role for the federal government is to be a "clearing house" of ideas on how to deliver the best health care to provinces while containing costs.

Bob Rae

Rae supports a universal, taxpayer-funded health care system -- but he suggested that he wouldn't be opposed to using the private sector to deliver those health services.

On Sept. 7 in Toronto, Rae unveiled a health-care platform that featured a "single-payer" medicare system, and said he would expand that system to include a National Catastrophic Drugs Plan -- which would cover "catastrophic" drug costs such as those some cancer patients are hit with.

"No one in Canada should ever have to choose between their health and financial catastrophe," said Rae, "and that is too often the case today."

"We have to find innovation in the public system. We have to find more cost-effective ways of delivering service; we have to find more technologically adaptive ways of delivering service."

When he was premier of Ontario, Rae also put in place the Trillium Drug program, which covered residents who can't afford high prescription drug costs.


Gerard Kennedy lacks a comprehensive plan, but so do the rest of the candidates. I do admit Kennedy in this description didn't outline his vision as well as Ignatieff, but most points are made, see his website for his more comprehensive view. Kennedy does give evidence of his motivation and experience in healthcare which I find admirable.

Stephane Dion gives a shocking statement, he allows for an element of private healthcare. This is news to me considering I've read every speech listed on his old and new website and his journal work. I am questioning Dion as a potential second.

Michael Ignatieff takes a more decentralized role when it comes to healthcare. My only qualm is that he puts healthcare solely under provincial jurisdiction, this is problematic to me in that not all provinces can supply a sustainable level of care.

Bob Rae leaves it vague as to whether he wants even more private involvement in Healthcare then Dion, which significantly worries me. Also cost-efficiency does not necessitate private healthcare. I believe the current system needs to be more stream-lined and more involvement and coordination by doctors.

Of the four I would have to say Gerard Kennedy and Michael Ignatieff give the most reasonable positions. This is going on the above information. I do have other information but only on some of the above candidates.


Blogger Skip said...


I think you are way off when you say that you worry about the level of private involvement in healthcare that Bob Rae leaves open. He has unequivocally stated that he supports the universal health care system - and has spoken at length about his plans to change and overhaul the current incarnation of that system. The two most pertinent things I see, are that he wants to streamline the healthcare system by ensuring the bureaucracy surrounding it is more cost-efficient; and that he wants to implement a national catastrophic medication plan (similar to the Trilium Plan he created in Ontario, which is still a fundamental part of medicare in Ontario today).

11:57 AM  

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