Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Two Tier Alberta

'Alberta sets the agenda for Canada' Jean Charest 1996

No truer words were ever spoken about the Klein Revolution, and they come back to haunt us again and again as Canadians and as long suffering Albertans.

Little Jean said that when has leader of the Federal Conservatives. As Leader of the Quebec Liberal Party and now that Provinces Premier, he tried to implement his own version of the Klein Revolution in that province over the past two years. Unsuccesfully of course, since Quebec is a social democratic society, and Republican Lite policies while appealing to the mythical ' taxpayers', fall flat when it comes to privatization and outsourcing of the public sector and its unions. Cause those same taxpayers are the workers who are unionized and who use public services.

Part 1: Third Way for Health Care

“I don't think it's two tier,” Mr. Klein said. “I guess it's subjective.”

Today Ralph announced his plans for introducing two tiered health care in Alberta. And it will have a major impact on Health Care across Canada.

Klein launches 'third way' for health care
Alberta Premier Ralph Klein has unveiled changes to the province's health-care system, his long-awaited "third way" mix of public and private options. At a news conference with provincial Health Minister Iris Evans on Tuesday morning, Klein released a plan to transform the system. They fended off questions about whether it would contravene the Canada Health Act or create a two-tier system. "The things that are medically necessary will be provided," Evans said. Klein repeatedly said that he couldn't answer those questions because the province is just starting to form the new strategy. "You don't snap your fingers and it doesn't happen overnight," he said.

Oh that Ralph he is so coy, overnight indeed, he has been planning this for six years since the passing of Bill 11.

Among the changes cited in a 12-point plan released on Tuesday, Alberta plans to:
* Change regulations to provide choice in hospital rooms and enhanced medical goods and services.
* Develop a Health Care Assurance Act for Albertans.
* Expand primary health-care services.
* Control spiraling drug costs.
* Increase the number of health-care providers.
* Improve health services in rural communities.

Alberta's Third Way
Tuesday, July 12,
Globe and Mail Update
The Alberta government announced its Third Way to provide health care in the province at a press conference in Calgary Tuesday.“The action will start immediately,” Alberta Premier Ralph Klein said Tuesday.
Among the reforms, Mr. Klein announced that Albertans would be able to use secondary insurance to help pay for podiatry and chiropractic services beyond what's covered by Alberta health care by the end of this month.
By September, the province hopes to allow patients in hospitals to choose special accommodations above the standard hospital room and to choose enhanced medical goods and services beyond what doctors decide is medically necessary. Regional health authorities will be able to charge for those special accommodations, Mr. Klein said.

A standing room-only crowd greets the premier. He tells the assembled he only has a few minutes because he has to meet some young farmers.

Do his government's proposals break the Canada Health Act? "No," replies Ralph, who does not elaborate.

What happened to all that stuff about taking on the feds? "We're just starting. You don't just snap your fingers and it doesn't happen overnight."

Where is this Third Way headed? Can you expand?

"I can't expand on it because I don't know. Something may or may not challenge the Canada Health Act."

What we do know is, among the ponderings and promises, people with money will be able to spend their scratch to get nicer hospital rooms and use insurance for services beyond what's covered now and walk on a fancy-pants Birmingham replacement hip rather than the regular-people Premier's Choice replacement hip.

Next year, what's covered by the public plan and what's not will be up for discussion. But Ralph will be gone or very near the exit sign. For now, we see these extras for the affluent, yet another spin on Ralph's Alberta Advantage. By -- Calgary Sun

Well the Supreme Court opened the can of worms with its ruling on provinces responsibility to provide health care for its citizens even if that meant private health care plans. Top court strikes down Quebec private health-care ban

And now Ralph has announced, wait for it, that he intends to apply this in Alberta as part of his Third Way for Healthcare. That is instead of using the American model of privatization he will use the European/British model of two tiered health care. That model of economic efficiency that almost destroyed the British NHS.

Ever since Bill 11 was passed in Alberta, and the weak kneed Feds failed to challenge Ralph over it, his agenda has been to allow for privatization of health care by hook or by crook. And so far many crooked backdoor privatization schemes have occured, mainly in Calgary. All of them associated with members of his party and government.

While Quebec stalls on what the meaning of the Supreme Court ruling means to their highly privatized healthcare system, Montreal has become the private health-care capital of Canada, Ralph has picked up the ball the Fed's fumbled and has declared war on Canada's Public Health Care system.

It's the showdown that has been waiting for five years, and with a Minority Liberal Government facing a BQ and Conservative opposition that will defend Ralph for their own reasons, (the BQ because it will defend Provincial Autonomy and the Conservatives, well they are from Alberta and are the party of privatization) don't expect much but the gnashing and grinding of teeth from Health Minister Dosanjh.

"In Ottawa, Federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh pledged to enforce the Canada Health Act. He said Ottawa is in talks with "Alberta, B.C., Quebec and other provinces where there may be violations on diagnostic or surgical aspects of health care." Describing the health act as the "charter of medicare," Dosanjh said the legislation is a "very important instrument in maintaining our system of health care across the country and it will be enforced." Dosanjh said Health Canada is investigating alleged violations, but was not more specific." Clinics' spread vexes ministers

The Feds may have little stomach for a fight with Ralph as our toothless Health Minister confirmed;

In Ottawa, federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh said his initial reaction was positive. "No user fees and no queue-jumping are the linchpins of our medicare system," Dosanjh said."These fundamental characteristics of our system will continue to be protected for all Canadians. "I am pleased to see Alberta has reaffirmed its commitment to the Canada Health Act, and that the proposed package, in my view, indicates a generally positive step in ensuring better health care for Albertans."
Klein: let patients buy better service

The media made a big deal with selective quoting of the former NDP Premier of Saskatchewan; Roy Romanow, who did the Romanow Report on Medicare, claiming he was not opposed to Ralph's plan.

Roy Romanow, the former Saskatchewan premier who headed the 2002 royal commission on health care, said the reforms appeared "pretty mild" and most would likely not breach the federal universality provisions.
Klein: let patients buy better service

What he actually said was that Ralphs plan still leads to two tiered care:

But former federal health commissioner Roy Romanow, who led a federal commission on the health care system, says while he has no problem with the proposal on hospital rooms, putting a price tag on joint replacements amounts to two-tiered care. He also attacked the notion that adding more private health care to the system would reduce the load on the public system. "Take a look at the United Kingdom, take a look at France, take a look at any of those countries that have attempted this and what happens is, the wait times increase both in the public sector and in the private sector." CBC Saskatchewan

Canadians who support public services and public delivery of those services, view it as money well spent. Those on the right view it as limiting their friends from making a profit off of us. Be afraid Canada, be very afraid, Ralph and his federal counterparts in Harpers Conservatives will be out to convince you that two tiered health care is the best reform for medical services delivery.

The Alberta Federation of Labour pointedly stated that; More private health insurance will increase business costs and undermine "Alberta Advantage" Corporate Alberta should take tories out to the woodshed. I like that last bit but unfortunately Corporate Alberta likes two tiered medicare, after all THEY CAN AFFORD IT.

Other critics have panned the plan that's not a plan.

"This isn't a plan, it's a grab bag of ideas big and small, new and old. It appears to reflect the split in the government caucus between those, including Premier Klein, who want more privatization, and those who champion public health care, as does Health Minister Iris Evans." Edmonton Journal Editorial.

"The rich in this province will get the Birmingham hip and the rest of us will get the tragically hip," Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason said of specialized hip surgery which has fewer complications and works better in younger, active patients than traditional hip replacements. The bone-conserving procedure can be three times more expensive than a traditional hip replacement and is only available in Calgary as part of a pilot project.
Klein: let patients buy better service

I like that sound bite Brian. And folks please note where is this hip replacement procedure only available? Like I have said before there is Alberta, and then there is Calgary, and the Klein agenda is set in Calgary by the PC's (Party of Calgary).

The health care “reforms” announced by the Alberta government yesterday take the province further down the dangerous path to a full two-tier health care system, says AUPE President Dan MacLennan. “Albertans should be gravely concerned about the idea of allowing the wealthy to pay extra for ‘enhanced’ health care services,” MacLennan said. “There is a great risk that it will not be long before what we now think of as a basic medical necessity will be described as ‘enhanced.’Allowing physicians to offer Cadillac services to well-heeled patients will over the long term drive many medical professionals out of the public health system to run purely for-profit medical businesses, he warned. “The danger is that waiting lists for basic public health services will grow longer and that the quality of service in the public health system will get worse."
Alberta health care ‘reforms’ increase risk of creating two-tier health system

"Third Way" is the Evolution of Private Health Care

CUPE Alberta President decries sneaking in two-tier system by stealth

Government’s plan more of the same private health agenda
Albertans have long rejected two-tier care for the privileged.
Says the UNA press release

"Alberta's Liberal opposition immediately criticized the proposals and called on the federal government to penalize Alberta. "There's no question we're headed towards a two-tiered health-care system," said Liberal Leader Kevin Taft. "That just goes against everything that we stand for in Alberta." Government’s “Third Way” Fails to Address Real Health Care Issues, Taft.

The Friends of Medicare, a lobby group fighting privatization of health care, said the new system could allow doctors to line their pockets by pressuring patients."Allowing doctors to charge an extra fee to provide an enhanced system -- a hip or surgery or service -- will create pressure for doctors to oversell to patients," said spokesman Harvey Voogd."It will create a conflict of interest for the patient-doctor relationship."

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation applauded the move, though, saying patients "should have the right to spend their own money on health-care services for themselves and their loved ones." Alberta: better health care for wealthy

Oh there's those taxpayers again, they are a business lobby and of course they think this is great. Right up there with tax breaks. They like the idea that those that can afford to pay for private services should be able to. But boy they hate the idea of making the rich pay for public health care for everyone.

It's an old story, as old as Medicare itself, when Tommy Douglas introduced single payer health care in Saskatchewan and Alberta offered the 'choice' of multiple payer plans. What goes around comes around.

And if that isn't scary enough for those of you on summer vacation how about two tier daycare. Scrap the National Daycare plan the Liberals tried to introduce, Alberta has swung it's own deal for public funding of private service delivery.

Part 2: Daycare

In Alberta the Ralph Regime rolls on, taxing federal tax money to fund private for profit daycare and babysitting services. The impact of the Federal Government funding two tier daycare in Alberta cannot be underestimated for the rest of Canada. CUPE has figured it out,
Alberta deal opens the door to big box child care

Be afraid Canada be very afraid, cause what happens here will impact on you too. Conservative provincial governments will adopt the Klein agenda with a me too attitude. Heck even Liberal Provincial governments like those in B.C. and Quebec will follow the Klein lead.

The Liberals began pursuing provincial side-deals after Dryden failed to get all 10 provinces and three territories to sign one deal for national standards.Quebec and Alberta have balked at the plan, saying they don't want Ottawa to dictate to them how to spend the money. CTV News

The Alberta NDP plead;Allow parents to choose high quality, low-cost, non-profit child care - Martin So what happens to all that provincial tax money that funded daycare, will it be used to supplement the federal windfall, I doubt it. More than likely it will be adjusted in the provincial budget and disappear into the general revenues.

And the federal money? Will it be used to fund early education programs? Nah, more than likely it will fund training programs for Baba and Dido to learn how to babysit, as New Brunswick Conservative Preimier Bernard Lord has proposed. Premier advances N.B. position on federal child-care funding With tax credits for the rest of us, which will hardly pay for a years worth of groceries let alone the cost of daycare services.

This is the free choice model of the federal Conservatives for daycare, give parents choice, which just means giving taxpayers back their money, while leaving public day care to dangle by the rope of underfunding.

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