Craig Norman/The Gauntlet

Accountability within medicare?

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The Canada Health Act and National Medicare are federal programs conceived of and implemented by the federal government. Why then is health care under provincial jurisdiction?

The answer, simply put, is that Jean Chretien's Liberal government does not have the conviction or ideological fortitude to bear the load alone. They also lack sufficient faith in the provincial governments to turn over absolute control. This poses a significant problem: universal health care can only be effective if properly funded and administered by one cohesive body. Currently there is health care by committee; some of the onus is on the provinces, some on Ottawa, but enough vagaries exist that no one can be blamed, no one can be held accountable.

It recently became clear that the federal Liberals are not willing to bear that responsibility by centrally consolidating power. The 25 billion in pre-election, no-strings-attached transfer payments further reinforces the sad truth that they would still rather throw money at the problem every five years than put forth the effort to try and clarify the administration of public health care. In the absence of a federal commitment to the well being of Canadians, the only choice is to decentralize, deregulate and give the provinces outright control.

The result of such an action would be both obvious and tragic. Alberta and Ontario would move with terrifying speed toward privatization and a two-tiered system while the disparities between rich and poor would become increasingly more apparent. I am a firm believer in the concept that comprehensive health care and education are the rights of all members in society and should therefore be heavily subsidized. By decentralizing, we relinquish control but we gain the necessary democratic ability to hold someone accountable.

And, as useless as politicians may seem at times and as abrasively arrogant as they often are, their livelihood and station is still dependent on all of us, the unwashed masses. They will, 99 per cent of the time, make the popular decision whether it is right or not. If two-tiered health care is undesirable to the everyday citizen it won't come knocking (and if it does it won't stay long).

If it is welcome however, then by all means open your doors and more importantly your wallets--or join me and get the hell outta Dodge.