Health-care system not very universal: columnist

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NORTH SYDNEY — A health columnist for a national news publication was guest speaker at the Cape Breton District Health Authority’s annual general meeting Monday night in North Sydney.

André Picard, a health columnist for the Globe and Mail spoke during the Cape Breton District Health Authority annual general meeting about his research centred on improving Canadian health care. Cape Breton Post photo

André Picard, an award-winning writer for the Globe and Mail, spoke about his research, which centres on improving Canadian health care.

Picard was invited to speak after first taking some heat from the district for a column that suggested hospital-acquired illness was a contributing factor to the death of beloved Cape Breton songstress Rita MacNeil.

The paper later issued a correction to say that MacNeil hadn’t acquired the infection during her stay at a Sydney hospital.

Health officials said the mistake led to the development of a working relationship with Picard, who was interested in finding out more about the Cape Breton district.

“People are pretty negative about the future of health care,” said Picard during his presentation. “Now, why are they so down on it? What’s driving this negativity? Well, we hear lots of reasons. The population is aging, I’m sure you hear that one here.”

Picard said obesity, drug and technology costs, and a shrinking tax base are among the thousands of reasons to blame for strained health care in the country.

“Instead of throwing up our hands and saying it’s not sustainable, we need to ask ourselves pretty fundamental questions. I think the most fundamental question we have to ask is: what do we want to sustain and why?”

Picard said Canada’s universal health-care system is currently one of the least universal health-care systems in the world.

“I want to sustain and build upon the notion of universality because it’s so important for social justice,” said Picard. “But it’s also important for the economy. The best, healthiest economies in the world, not coincidentally, have the most universal and thorough health-care systems — countries like Norway and Sweden and so on.”

Picard said governments need to establish health-care system that are both effective and cost-efficient.

Part of doing this, he said, is embracing innovation and relying on best practices that can be found across Canada and around the world.

“We should tap into that knowledge and implement it, and we’re not really good at that at all," he said. "We’re very protectionist in Canada. We’d rather do things badly because we’ve always done them than take risks and change.”

Picard said while there are exceptions in Canadian health care, there are not enough exceptions.

Picard finished his presentation by answering questions from the floor, including questions about the world obesity and Canada's proposed super health boards.

To view the video CLICK HERE

 

 

Organizations: Globe and Mail, Sydney hospital

Geographic location: Cape Breton, Canada, Norway Sweden

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