Challenging the record

Challenging the record I wish to thank the Yukon News for the November 27 article on page seven titled, The Territory Has More Doctors, More Costs. It shocked me out of my complacency. There are four statements in this article, attributed to Dr. Rao

I wish to thank the Yukon News for the November 27 article on page seven titled, The Territory Has More Doctors, More Costs.

It shocked me out of my complacency.

There are four statements in this article, attributed to Dr. Rao Tadepalli, that concern me:

“Up to 50 per cent of (the Yukon government’s budget) is spent on health care each year. So, no, it’s not sustainable by any means.”

This number surprised me.

The budget estimates for 2009 Ð 2010 (available online at the Yukon government’s website) do not support this percentage.

The total Health and Social Services budget, including operations, maintenance and capital expenditures, is $238,041,000.000 while the total government budget for all departments and activities is $1,003,231,000.00.

This math results in a Health and Social Services budget of less than 25 per cent of the total government budget.

It should be noted that these numbers include Social Services.

When the Health portion is separated out, the result is less than 16 per cent of the total government budget.

I realize that numbers and statistics can be used to paint very different pictures.

A discrepancy of this size, however, deserves an explanation from Tadepalli.

“The system isn’t ‘sustainable’ because of the increasing strain placed on it by an aging populationÉ.”

In September, 2007, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released: How Sustainable is Medicare? A Closer Look at Aging, Technology and Other Cost Drivers in Canada’s Health Care System by Marc Lee, a senior economist with the BC Office of the CCPA.

To quote from the news release about the paper: “The real challenge for future health-care expenditures comes not from an aging population but the costs associated with new health technologies, such as new surgical techniques, diagnostics, prescription drugs, and end-of-life interventions. We’ll have to decide how to weigh the benefits of new innovations against their costs. And those decisions are best made in the context of a public system.”

The full paper is available on the CCPA website at:

www.policyalternatives.ca

“Éuser fees will likely be introduced in the territory in the near future to offset rising health-care costs.”

As we are now aware, the Yukon government will be releasing the results of the health care review in the new year.

Can we construe Tadepalli’s comments to be a pre-release of some of the review’s recommendations?

If so, we can look forward to some lively debate here in Yukon.

“I think privatization of health care will come in at some stage.”

Tadepalli is introduced as the president of the Yukon Medical Association.

Is he representing himself, or the association?

In any case his comments are out of step with the feelings of the vast majority of Canadians.

In the recently released Nanos poll (November 2009) done for Policy Options (www.irpp.org) it was found that 90 per cent of Canadians support public health care.

User fees and privatization are presented as an almost inevitable outcome of our current system.

I, for one, do not believe this and there have been many reports and studies denying the benefits of either of these.

I refer the reader to the Canadian Health Coalition website (www.healthcoalition.ca) and the CCPA website for thorough coverage of these and other medicare issues.

Our publicly funded health-care system is being systematically challenged both from within and without.

In this public debate, it is critical that Yukoners have accurate information and it rests with journalists and the public to question statements that do not make sense nor fit with our world view.

Judy Harwood Dabbs

Whitehorse