Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Other People Are Not Your Property

Jay Jardine has a predictably sunny take on our newest Captain Canada, Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman. (He calls him a cock-something.) He's a little more riled up than me, but not by a lot. I can see the upside: anything that underlines or clarifies the "morality" underpinning contemporary health policy can only accelerate the inevitable, forthcoming revolt and the consequent demolition and replacement of the system.

If I were a reporter, I'd be a little more interested than CTV's Peter Murphy is in finding out what exactly Smitherman's objection is to mobile, private (For Profit!) cash-only ultrasound testing, operating entirely outside the public system.
  • "Minister, you call this firm modern-day snake oil salesmen. Are you saying that preventative ultrasound testing is bogus?"
  • "Minister, generally the government's response to misleading advertising is to require the advertiser to pull or change the ads. Was this avenue pursued with the testing firm in question?"
  • "Minister, are you assuring Ontarians that the provincial health system provides all the diagnostic ultrasounds they need? Would allowing a private company to provide similar testing negatively impact the province's ability to do so?"
  • "What do you plan to tell the family of a senior who dies next year from undiagnosed blood clots, when that family says the deceased was eager to pay $60 for a 10-minute test at the mall? Is the province accepting liability for this senior's death?"
  • "Shoppers Drug Mart provides free blood pressure readings to anyone who wants them. Is this only moral and acceptable because it's free? Are you worried about Ontarians who go to Shoppers for a free blood pressure reading, but also end up spending their money there?"
  • "Does it concern you that Shoppers Drug Mart is a private, for-profit company, which reported net earnings of $257 million in fiscal 2003, much of which was out of the wallets of sick Canadians?"
There's only so many ways to attack an indefensible position before you tucker out. It blows my mind that a government running a multi-billion dollar deficit thinks that ensuring its citizens don't spend money on their own health is a high priority.

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