According to the myths of ancient Greece, Daedalus* built an elaborate labyrinth to contain the Minotaur, thus reducing the chance of adverse health effects of contact with the dreaded beast! The labyrinth, however, became so complex that he and his son Icarus had no choice but to build wings to escape. Failing to heed the warnings of his father not to stray too close to the sun, Icarus met his end as the sun melted the wax holding his wings together.

Containing illness and death is a fundamental goal of any healthcare system, but the story of Daedalus provides a cautionary tale - extrication from the labyrinth, so necessary to have an overview of the system, must not come at the price of losing contact with the values, functions and workings of that system.

Canadians have consistently expressed their support for a universal access, publicly financed healthcare system. Nevertheless, coincident with the retrenchment and restructuring of government spending by both provincial and federal governments, more and more cries of alarm about the failings of Canada's system and calls for change are heard. Duncan Sinclair's paper "Rethinking Medicare" joins a lengthy and growing list of such tracts.


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    HealthcarePapers, 1(3) June 2000

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