Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Sounds Like an Election Call to Me

So Alberta is now debt free. And yet, Albertans still feel the need to whine that they're left out and Ontario is screwing them over. Weird.

The Alberta government has been given a huge jackpot. Because a few really old guys, over 130 years ago, decided that natural resources were a provincial matter rather than a federal one, we now have a golden opportunity. Klein can either build up a Heritage fund, slash taxes and encourage business. Or he can create a dream province. He can create a health care system which works, make sure Alberta has the best schools in the world (both undergrad and post-secondary), and make sure that the underpriviledged are taken care of and given a chance to succeed. In short, he can make Alberta an incredible province to live in.

But gee, which do you think he'll choose? The fact that he sees the need to introduce health care premiums at the same time that he announces the province is debt free is beyond ridiculous.

3 Comments:

  • The "really old guys 130 years ago" were the Fathers of Confederation. That decision was the British North America Act, you know, the constitution of this country for the first 115 years. Strange enough, that decision was maintained in the new Canadian Constitution - you know, the one written by then- Justice Minister Jean Chretien.

    All provinces have that same golden opportunity, as all possess natural resource wealth almost beyond imagination. Whether they use those opportunities is up to them.

    Building up the Heritage Fund is a good idea. This is a rainy-day fund, for use in the event of a disaster. It is conceivable that, barring disaster, one day the Heritage Fund will be large enough that the interest on the fund will cover all of the provincial government's budget. From that day forth, Alberta could be completely tax-free.

    To create a health care system that works is also a great idea. We have to ask ourselves, however, if what we have been doing over the last several decades has actually been working.

    Luckily, we have two parallel examples of health-care systems right here in Alberta. On the one hand we have the public health-care system. On the other hand, Dental and Optometry services are undeniably health-care services, yet they are and have always been provided by the private sector. The contrast between the two in terms of waiting lists, level of service provided, and cost couldn't be more striking - and shows that socialized health care does not work but capitalist health care does.

    Unfortunately, to reform the health care system in order that we have a health care system that works, we must violate the Canada Health Act. So be it. We can do without the $1 billion that Ottawa sends our way for health care, and Ottawa can send it somewhere else.

    "Make sure the underpriveledged are taken care of"... how patronizing.

    Health care premiums are also a good idea. If government is to be involved in health care at all, it should be not as the primary provider but as the insurer.

    By Blogger Ed, at 11:16 PM  

  • in keeping with the supericial comparisons made in the last comment, i would say the american health system is proof that private health care is not effective and definitely not efficient, and opens up numerous possibilites for abuses. ... i agree with you that now that alberta's "debt-free" (an entirely subjective and political term if there ever was one, since the debt won't be completely paid off until 2012, and we had the potential to "pay off" the debt years ago, not to mention that we've replaced one form of debt with other forms) Alberta can be made into a dream province. i also agree with you that that's unlikely to happen.

    By Blogger DJC, at 6:49 PM  

  • As a Canadian who's been living in the U.S. for the past year (though I'll be coming home soon), I'm kinda sympathetic when people complain about the U.S. health care system, but I'm pretty sure it's not right to say that the problem is "private" health care. The U.S. has this really messed-up system where stupid tax laws made it cheaper for your employer to provide "free" health care for you than for you to purchase your health care yourself. Which encouraged the creation of these giant health-care-provider companies. So left-wing people say the problem is that these companies are private, and right-wing people say the problem is the stupid tax laws that caused their creation, and that encourage stupid consumer behaviour.

    As far as I can tell, it's not really public vs. private that makes the difference; it's pay-for-yourself vs. others-pay-for-you. In both countries, demand went shooting through the roof because somebody else (the employer or the government) was footing all the bills.

    I'd like to see a system where we give poor people money that they can spend on health care (and we can even try to make sure that people with more medical problems get more money), and then let people choose for themselves how and where to spend that money. Even if the money wasn't yours originally, at least you'll have incentives to spend it wisely. Making health care "free" just seems like a really bad idea to me.

    It kinda bugs me that left-wing Canadians keep using "look at American health care!" as their trump card, when the American system is (as far as I can tell) a complete mess for the same reasons that ours is a complete mess. They took a different route to get there, but they've got the same fundamental problem we have. You can argue that private health care is bad, but it seems to me that the U.S. isn't really a useful data point in that argument.

    By Blogger Adam, at 2:03 AM  

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