Pierre Poilievre, right, walks past Jean Charest as he takes his place on stage during the Conservative leadership debate in Ottawa on May 5.

Charest’s private health care plan recognizes the real world

Charest brings bold and thoughtful solutions to chronic problems that have long been ignored by federal politicians. Poilievre, in turn, provides only populist rhetoric

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Given the precarious state of health care in Canada, it would be good to know where each candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada stands on health policy. Unfortunately, a deep dive into most candidates’ policy proposals would have led to a broken neck due to the incredibly shallow waters most provided to voters.

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With only two viable candidates remaining, let’s look at the presumed frontrunner first. In general, what the Pierre Poilievre campaign comes closest to actual political statements are short platitudes posted on social media, such as “Stop #JustinFlation”, “Reclaim Canadian Values”, and “Fire the Gatekeepers”. .

The closest Poilievre skates to health policy are a proposal to fast-track licensing of foreign-trained doctors and other skilled workers, and a private member’s bill that he introduced last month, which was essentially an anti-vaccine bill.

Unfortunately, the bill runs counter to the needs of our hospitals. To maintain hospital operations, we must be able to minimize the impact of communicable diseases like COVID on our staff and reduce the number of patients requiring intensive care services. Going out against vaccination mandates undermines those needs.

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In a health system that has been overwhelmed by backlogs resulting from the pandemic and is plagued by crumbling infrastructure, inadequate funding and human resource shortages, calling for immunization “freedom” can play a role. on a populist basis, but that does nothing to address the underlying issues affecting our hospitals.

Poilievre’s proposal to fast-track the certification process for healthcare professionals resonates more, but fast-tracking these workers is impractical and carries significant risks.

In contrast, Jean Charest’s health policy proposals are robust and, more importantly, risky.

A hospital bed is not a mattress and a set of sheets. He is a doctor, several nurses, as well as laboratory and medical imaging technicians. We are not short of furniture in Canada, we are short of qualified professionals. Charest’s proposal is to streamline the entry of foreign-trained health professionals into the country and into the workforce.

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It offers unlimited entries, that’s exactly the number of new bodies we need. Truth be told, the shortage of healthcare workers is a global phenomenon and competition will eventually limit the number of people we can bring in through immigration.

The important distinction between Poilievre’s and Charest’s proposals is that Charest leaves the time frame around licensing and governance where it belongs: with professional orders.

On the Canada Health Act, Charest not only dares to touch the third rail of Canadian politics, he grabs it with both hands. It proposes to allow the provinces to collaborate with the private sector, while maintaining a universal and public system.

Impossible? Barely. What Charest is doing is acknowledging the reality of health care in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Quebec, where privately funded surgical centers are already treating public patients, usually under contract to hospitals. local.

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This is public health care delivered at no additional cost to patients in private facilities. And it complies with the Canada Health Act. By formally acknowledging this reality at the federal level, provinces could begin to provide more desperately needed services at lower cost through public-private partnerships.

Charest also proposes to decentralize a number of services, including MRIs and day surgery, to private centers funded by the state. Throughout the pandemic, we have seen how our exclusively hospital-centric model of care has led to paralysis of outpatient services when our intensive care units have been overwhelmed.

We need the ability to continue treating patients, even when our hospitals are under siege. When we don’t, the results are often tragic, with late diagnosis of serious illnesses and missed opportunities for treatment.

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While medicare purists will shudder at the idea of ​​private delivery of public services, one proposal that will meet with universal approval is maintaining a 3% annual increase in the Canada Health Transfer. , with an increase in funds following the negotiation of a new national health-care act.

Health transfers are the lifeblood of our vastly underfunded hospitals and this kind of financial certainty and growth will enable future planning and expansion of services.

Finally, the $10 billion health care infrastructure fund proposed by Charest will provide hospitals and long-term care facilities with the resources they need to modernize services and ensure the dignity of those who can no longer live independently.

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Charest brings bold and thoughtful solutions to chronic problems that have long been ignored by federal politicians. Poilievre, in turn, provides only populist rhetoric. Now is the time for serious leaders to act. The lives of Canadians literally depend on it.

national post

Dr. David Jacobs is a radiologist at Humber River Hospital in Toronto and president of the Ontario Association of Radiologists.

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