Sunday, February 04, 2007

Why Were Wait Times Forgotten?

Listen, I don't aim to sound like a conspiracy nut or anything, but I do have a theory about why health care wait times have been ignored by the federal government.

Recall the 2006 election, Stephen Harper won that one on the back of his five priorities:
  • Clean up government by passing the Federal Accountability Act;
  • Provide real tax relief to working families by cutting the GST;
  • Make our streets and communities safer by cracking down on crime;
  • Help parents with the cost of raising their children; and
  • Work with the provinces to establish a Patient Wait Times Guarantee.
Where did the wait times thing go? Well, fast-forward to this post on Buckdog - it's largely based on an article in the Georgia Straight. You should go read the whole thing, it is a great exposition on Harper's close ties to far-right organizations in Canada. One of the things that caught my eye though is that it does mention is health care. Here's the quote:
In a major Fraser Institute publication in 2005, Fraser fellows Preston Manning and Mike Harris proposed eliminating the federal role in health-care management and financing. Harper has opposed Medicare for two decades. But he responded to the Harris-Manning recommendations by saying, “I could not imagine a proposal that is more a non-starter than that one.” The Conservative party “supports the evolution of the health-care system within the framework of the Canada Health Act”.
Wow. That would be a very radical alteration to health policy in Canada. You would have an overwhelming majority of Canadians up in arms as a result of such a development. Of course, if health care was improved by a reduction in wait times, there would be even more outrage. If health care remains underfunded and if Harper doesn't get along well with the provinces, well that's a great way to set the stage for this kind of dismantling.

Harper (especially if he has a majority) will simply tell the provinces that things are busted and that he's taking it all apart. Reducing wait times gets him no closer to that goal, so why would he? It was a great election promise that he's hoping people will forget.