Healthcare Quarterly

Healthcare Quarterly 4(2) December 2000 : 26-29.doi:10.12927/hcq..16536

Is There a Canadian Tragedy in the Making?

Bob Rae


I want to talk to you today about the state of healthcare as I see it, and the clear choices we face and continue to face as a community. As citizens, we all have a responsibility to ask questions and to insist that the answers be clearer than they have been in the past. And we have to ask questions of ourselves. The challenge we face is not simply a challenge of changing a government or one party or another - it's a question of coming to terms with the fact that if we want to have a first-class healthcare system we have to be prepared to pay for it. The greatest challenge facing governments today is to work through this question. I'd like to say the trouble with the country is that we all want to have European-style services and American-style taxes. As a result, for a long time we've had Canadian-style deficits, and we're just now coming to terms with these deficits.

The American political observer Walter Lippmann once commented that public opinion is really about the pictures in people's heads. Frankly, the image that most politicians still have in their minds when they think about healthcare is what I call the "ER" picture. (When I say "ER," I mean the television program.) You know, you go to the hospital when you are catastrophically ill or injured. There the doctors treat you, and then you either die or go home. But the problem is that picture doesn't really correspond to the challenge of healthcare today.



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