Though the Canadian health care system has been in perpetual need of reform since its establishment in 1957, there is yet to be a report that Ottawa can live with. Over the last 50 years, she has flirted with many a health care expert. On several occasions, she maintained a promising relationship, but in the end, she is incapable of committing long term. There is only one conclusion to be made: the federal government is a slut.
Justice Emmett Hall became the father of the first Royal Commission on Health Care Report in 1964, and gave birth to his second report in 1980. Hall produced reasonable studies listing valid points and several excellent reform suggestions, such as lowering the cap on medical school admission to control the number of doctors in the workforce. This should have scored him big points with Ottawa, but although her interest was piqued, she instantly broke it off when she discovered how unpopular he was with provincial governments.
Ottawa then encouraged advances from post-secondary research groups and medical associations who, like Hall, came up with important points. Their studies illustrated, among other things, the effect of public health care on doctors. But still, Ottawa wasn’t ready for commitment.
By the nineties, it looked like she was finally prepared to settle down and decide on a plan, but the untimely National Forum on Health was aborted in 1997 so Ottawa could focus on her career in the approaching election.
The federal government has given it another go with Romanow, but his study will be no different than its predecessors. Like Ottawa’s former beaus, he has recommended increased funding and broader health insurance coverage, but it will inevitably come to nothing without the necessary federal commitment. Ottawa doesn’t need yet another suitor, she needs to decide what she’s looking for. Otherwise, it is all too easy for her to shrug her shoulders, wave good-bye and call over her shoulder, “it’s not you, it’s me.”