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0 Comments Day of Reckoning: Canada’s Healthcare System

Article written by Boris Bozic on the 18 Aug 2011 in Canada,Current Events

It’s finally here and there’s no way to avoid it. I’m not referring to recent headlines, the stock market, US debt and downgrading or the economic crisis in Europe. What I am referring to is the funding of our healthcare system, and our aging population. No political party, while governing or in opposition, has had the courage the face these issues. For too long government has put votes in front of fixing the problem. Health care in this country has always been treated like the sacred cow, and because of inaction, the system is broken. To be clear, healthcare in this country is provided by some of the best medical practitioners in the world. But they are expected to perform miracles within a system that’s flawed. The system is going to have to change because the government will no longer be able to throw money at the problem. There just isn’t enough money anymore.

healthcare canadaThe reason the government is facing this problem is simple, the number of working-age taxpayers will not be able to foot the bill going forward. The Globe and Mail reported last week that the government has held closed-door meetings, at the highest levels, about this issue. According to the Globe and Mail, “Canada, currently the 27th oldest country in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, is on track to become the 11th oldest within 20 years. It’s a challenge that will spark debate over Canada’s retirement age, fertility rates and immigration, while risking generational tension between a growing population of older voters and a shrinking pool of younger taxpayers.“. These figures are staggering.

Healthcare and the aging population will impact us all of us economically. Today we have a tiered healthcare system. Irrespective of what anyone says it’s in place today. Why is that a professional athlete in this country, who requires a medical procedure, be it testing or surgery, can have the procedure done within 24 hours? The reason – someone is paying for it. I recently experienced this first hand. I went to see a specialist a couple of years ago and he said that I required a MRI. He said that he could get me in within 3 months. However, if I wanted to go to a clinic in Buffalo, he could get me in within 24 hours, for a cost of $1,000. I went to Buffalo the next day, and gladly paid the money. I think this is our future, private healthcare. I don’t see what other option we have. A combination of public and private healthcare is the only solution. If this indeed comes to fruition it will have an impact on all employers. If the day comes where employers in this country recruit based on private healthcare insurance, there will be a direct correlation to wages. Private healthcare is costly, and employers will have to balance the capital cost of insurances versus wages. Last time I checked yearly income was an important factor when qualifying for a mortgage. There’s always a domino’s effect.

As for the aging population, I can see the day when reverse mortgages become more common place. The challenge will be to develop products which are more affordable for the elderly, and to create securitization vehicles for reverse mortgages. Nursing homes are costly, and adequate care is always a concern. The elderly may chose to remain in their homes for a longer period of time, and they have every right to live out their lives with dignity, in the comfort of their own homes. Ah, but what’s left for the kids? In this new world, maybe not so much.

Hopefully these issues will be confronted in an honest way. The government has responsibility to lead in these matters, and the partisan rhetoric will have to be put aside for the greater good. The taxpayer, the elderly and the sick deserve better from our government. It’s time to be honest.

Until next time


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