Medicare has no friends in political elites

Since its establishment by Tommy Douglas, Lester B. Pearson and others, medicare continues to be consistently supported by 80 to 90 per cent of Canadians. The concept of American health care enjoys much less popularity Ð below 10 per cent. Interestingly,

Since its establishment by Tommy Douglas, Lester B. Pearson and others, medicare continues to be consistently supported by 80 to 90 per cent of Canadians.

The concept of American health care enjoys much less popularity Ð below 10 per cent. Interestingly, polling figures regarding universal medicare option are similar all over the world, even in the U.S.

Stats are often used by the technocratic elites to pull the wool over our eyes, but if one can sort of double or half figures and they still explain common sense, it might be useful.

The introduction of medicare at the time was just a start-up program with an understood mandate to be strengthened over time with options such as dental care, nutritional medicine and other low-cost options like the licensing of mid-level practitioners.

The policy trends Canadians face are the exact opposite of the democratic mandate we are expressing.

My question is: How is that possible?

The federal government has now started to make good on its long-held intentions of gradually defunding medicare.

Locally, NDP leader Liz Hanson gave a response that reached about as far as two feet before falling flat to the ground. It was very symptomatic of federal and Yukon NDP positions, also in elections more than just recently.

We get general feel-good exclamations combined sometimes with the nostalgic invocation of the CCF and NDP authorship of medicare.

Yukon Premier Pasloski appears to have bought in or been bought out to support the federal strategy against the other provinces and territories.

Pointing this out together with a lukewarm warning against privatization and no hint of context is not helpful.

It withholds the privatization reality that is already here, which amounts to just more cover up for American health-care trends.

The positions we see may in actuality be choreographed very differently to their appearance, and deserve scrutiny.

The NDP is perceived as historic guardian and steward of medicare, which offers the party leadership an extraordinary shield behind which to stick the knife into it.

All that was missing and what the elites were waiting for was an opportunity like the austerity theme.

All parties are busily avoiding addressing re-regulation of the financial sector, which would allow a return to the fiscal responsibility that was lost by Mulroney’s banking deregulation from 1987. (Think: to renew a separation of commercial banking from derivative and hedge fund speculation).

From there, follow quite a few distortions and cover-up items that are promoted in an elegant fashion. This is possible because they are legitimated by the moral high ground of the NDP leadership, which arms with substantive consent the right wing in its attack on health care.

Examples are cuts in denticare (medicare dental) for seniors and children, which has, nation-wide been reduced to half of what it was a few years ago. They are consistently ignored by these medicare “advocates.”

Further, for one third of the population with no dental coverage, there is no effective dental care. Good research is available but it’s easier to have a look around the inabilities to chew food, the Dickensian tooth gaps and brown stumps in the smiles of the people around us.

This is corroborated by the Yukon Health Status Report from 2009 with much detail and anecdotal evidence for lack of dental care.

The shortfall includes patients with coverage, but is conspicuously ignored in the report’s summary and recommendations, as it is in politics.

A recent report in Canadian Business by the economist Armine Yalnizyan concluded that universal denticare would result in cash savings for medicare.

Observations and studies are increasing and demonstrate a dramatic link between lack of dental, and breast cancer.

Of course. oral and root infections are already a well-understood factor with regard to heart disease, but ignored by all parties.

Tommy Douglas warned in a speech from 1984 in response to neo-liberal attacks on medicare by Ralph Klein and others: “There’s not any doubt at all that the present medicare program in Canada is in serious danger of being sabotaged. One danger is extra-billing, which is growing and which has meant only one thing: that we are rapidly developing two types of people in the health-care field.”

Class-oriented vanity is not necessarily a sign of incompetence in our political party elites but as far as not being treason, it has the possibility of intellectual cowardice, which people will not support in elections to come during a deepening crisis.

Peter Becker

Whitehorse