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William D. Gairdner

The myth of single-tier medicine in Canada

Politicians know there is a vast pool of latent citizen-envy lurking in the bosom of every nation, and that it is easily aroused with bogus equality–talk. Just so, an unreflective Canadian public has swallowed the politically-promoted belief that Canada has a “single-tier” medical system. It has become such a near-sacred myth that our governments loudly trumpet “the prohibition of ‘two-tier’ medicine,” and various provincial Acts have threatened physicians and corporations with penalties of a $25,000 fine (more for corporations) and up to 12 months imprisonment for offences. “Two-tier” has become a code accusation of rich privilege. But the truth is, Canada has always had a multi-tiered medical system. Here’s why: Tier 1 – those wealthy enough for medical tourismI have seen estimates that every year some 150,000 Canadians who are sufficiently wealthy and motivated enough to locate superior medical treatment outside Canada, drop $1 billion in the process of getting better and quicker medical care than they can get here. That works out to $6,666 each. Not unreasonable. If these numbers are even close, what about ending our government’s monopoly on healthcare so that this money can stay in Canada each year, boosting our own medical profession, research, and technological prowess? Clearly, if we did not have the best medical care in the world at our doorstep in America, socialized medicine would never have gotten off the ground here, because the huge numbers of influential Canadians who get there what they can’t get here would have screamed bloody murder and taken the entire system down. Instead, they quietly slip out of the country, get first class care, and as quietly return. They are silent because they are privileged. Some I know of who have done this recently are: myself, for diagnostic tests at Mayo Clinic, denied here; my daughter, who went to Buffalo to… Read More