Canadian health care is not the 'best in the world
By William J. Connor

Medicare is a major topic of concern in Canada today. A health care system that works in one country may not be viable in all other countries. However, it may be helpful to look at systems that have served others well.

One does wonder why there is a great disparity in health care systems among the world's richest nations. And in the USA, the most powerful nation of all, we are told that 30 million people are without any access to medical care whatsoever.

There are, I believe, good medical services provided in many of the European countries. However, my knowledge of the British system is first-hand since I have lived there for most of my life. I have personal knowledge of the following information -- all services that it would benefit Canada to have:

1) Any call to a doctor's surgery that is placed before 10 a.m. will ensure a home visit by the doctor that same day, after surgery hours.

2) An emergency call during the night will trigger a house call by a doctor standing in for a group of physicians.

3) In any emergency, access to an ambulance is made by a doctor calling one or by making a personal call to any police station.

4) Out patients requiring regular hospital care are routinely picked up at their homes and returned there after treatment by an ambulance which has been fitted with seats in lieu of the usual stretchers. If the distance to be covered is considered to be excessive for the ambulance pick-up, then a private car is sent -- whether or not the family has a car of their own available.

5) Nobody, rich or poor, pays for any prescription drugs. Those under retirement age (60 for women; 65 for men) pay only the prescription dispensing fee. On reaching retirement age, the dispensing fee is waived so that the retiree pays nothing at all.

6) Those people who require care in nursing homes are charged nothing beyond their Old Age Pension cheques from which they are permitted to retain a small amount for spending money.

7) All prosthetic limbs and orthopedic shoes are provided free. Cars are provided to the physically disabled that are adapted to accommodate each person's particular disability. These are leased to drivers at favourable rates. Non-drivers receive travel vouchers to use when they need to go shopping, etc.

8) All house-bound persons are provided with free wheelchairs and their homes are modified for access with them. Kitchens and bathrooms are modified for those who are physically impaired so they can manage their daily chores without assistance. One family member was recently given a wheelchair, and was also provided with an electric chair lift because her bedroom was above the ground floor.

It must be stressed that there is no charge for any of these services. In addition, the applicant's financial position is at no time taken into account. The same system is available to the millionaire and to the society drop-out.

It seems deplorable that some politicians in Canada brazenly attempt to brainwash the citizens of this country with their assertions that we have "the best" or "one of the best" Medicare systems in the world. It simply is not true. We do hope that some of these options will be made available to Canadians at some future time.

Mr. Connor now makes his home in the province of New Brunswick.