Monday, November 07, 2005

Action vs. inaction

It shouldn't be news by now that the NDP has rejected the Liberals' "proposal" to preserve health care. The CP has the details as to why:
The Liberal document restates the guiding principles of the Canada Health Act (CHA), along with a commitment to end "double dipping" by doctors who work in both the public and private sectors.

But it is not clear how the government could enforce these promises without full information on how provinces are using those dollars - something the provinces refuse to provide.

The proposals leave plenty of room for political discretion about enforcement, as in this sentence:

"Where private involvement threatens the integrity of the single payer system, the federal government will act to ensure that the terms and conditions for any new federal dedicated funding require that these funds be spent within the public health care system."

It is not clear how the government would decide when the integrity of the single payer system was threatened, but it would presumably be a matter of political judgment.

Nor is it clear how an informed judgement could be made without full accounting by provinces of how they use federal money...

The Liberal proposal promises Dosanjh will seek new studies about "the nature and role of the private sector" from the Canadian Institute for Health Information and the Health Council of Canada.

But the federal government has already conducted countless studies of the health system, including the royal commission led by Roy Romanow, but few of their recommendations have been implemented.
Evidently, the Liberal line is that more empty words should be enough to make up for the lack of past action. But the NDP will gladly take the position of being the party that wants to do more than just study the system to death - especially if the Liberals' best argument is that they're supposedly catching up on past negligence in other departments.

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