Putting the focus on two-tier medicine

By 
  • September 15, 2008

Two-tier medicine that puts the rich at the head of the line for everything from cancer therapy to hip replacements and legislation that would make cheap and easy euthanasia more readily available than quality palliative care are issues the Catholic Health Association hopes voters will question before they cast their ballots Oct. 14.

An Ipsos-Reid-Canwest poll taken at the outset of the election found 79 per cent of Canadians named health care as a vote-determining issue.

For the fifth time since the 1997 election, the CHAC has waded into the federal election campaign with a voters' guide on health care issues. The CHAC represents Canada's Catholic health care institutions nationally, including 96 hospitals and nursing homes.

The compact, three-page CHAC guide feeds voters questions they can bring up at all-candidates meetings, and frames health care issues in terms of Catholic social teaching.
"Catholic social teaching is based on two truths about the human person — human life is both sacred and social," says Canada Votes 2008.

The Catholic lobby group urges voters to challenge candidates and parties on the issue of euthanasia. Making an exception to homicide provisions in the criminal code to exempt doctors who kill their patients, as envisioned in Bill C-562, will undercut the relationship between care givers and patients, says the CHAC.

"Who can trust a caregiver who holds the power to kill?" they ask.

Rather than offering dying patients a quicker death, the CHAC advocates palliative care funding that will give people the option of a good death — pain free and surrounded by family.

"Hospice palliative care in Canada is a patchwork of services," says the Catholic Health Association. "Only 15 per cent of Canadians have access to palliative care services."

The CHAC also wants voters to push federal politicians on the issue of equitable access for rich and poor alike. Letting the rich opt for private insurance while the poor are forced to rely on an underfunded public system "represents a fundamental shift, moving us as a society away from a sense of interdependence and caring for one another toward a stance of self-concern and self-interest," says the CHAC.

To protect the public system, the CHAC wants the federal government to  enforce minimum standards on provinces and territories and invest in training enough doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals to serve the whole country.

The CHAC guide can be dowloaded here.

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