Privatization of health care a slippery slope

Most right minded individuals believe universal access to health care to be both essential and an ethical imperative

Most right minded individuals, regardless of their socioeconomic status, believe universal access to health care to be both essential and an ethical imperative.

We don’t consider it a “right” nor do we believe that profit is evil. It is these kind of misguided and polarizing statements that continue to divide our society between those who have plenty, bemoan long wait times and wish to jump the queue because they can afford to, and those like myself who have worked hard all their lives but continue to struggle financially and would have been bankrupted many times over now by the health problems experienced by family members.

It is this polarization that I find worrisome, especially in this region which is historically conservative, both federally and provincially, belying the financial resources of the vast majority of the population.

This is a prime example of the politics of fear; praying on people’s ignorance and hatred which is propagated by the use of words like ‘confiscated’ and ‘socialist’ which further the stereotype of a class of ‘takers’ who feel ‘entitled’.

The tone of Mr. Walker’s column of March 15 suggests there is a better way. Although he states, “Canada’s health care system has become unworkable,” he unfortunately stops short of offering an alternative.

Do you crave a hybrid two-tiered system where the wealthy can pay for products and services the rest of us cannot afford to hope for? Perhaps a completely privatized system, one in which it is left to insurance companies to decide who will be covered. God help you if you have a pre-existing condition. You may not be able to get coverage at any price.

Perhaps it is not my right to be healthy, but it is a need, a very basic one. I believe that those who have been fortunate in life have every right to spend their money on real property, luxury vehicles and whatever else their hearts desire. But I also believe that in a benevolent democracy it is our responsibility to help those who cannot help themselves, and that includes the basic health needs of the vast majority of residents of the area served by Penticton Regional Hospital.

The renovation and expansion of this facility is a priority, but if it is delayed it will not be because there is a basic flaw in our system of universal health care as the tone of Mr. Walker’s column suggests. It will be because of a broken political system that has in great measure been reduced to name calling and partisan bickering while the needs of ordinary people are largely ignored.

Free enterprise is a game of winners and losers and not the silver bullet for every problem society faces. In fact, the economic landscape in Penticton is littered with the corpses of failed businesses.

Even the most promising business model can lead to ruin and that is the reason some essential services ought to be left to government. Privatization of health care, even in part, is a slippery slope.

Bob Carlton