Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The lights are on, and we've all come out to play.

So, last night, after a weekend of withdrawal, I was wandering through The New Fray, some of which really is an improvement [what does this button do?], when I stumbled over JackD's question about healthcare mandates. I'd been wondering much the same thing, and in particular: How did Canada make the switch from private health insurance to universal public health care? so a-Googling I did go.

And eventually ended up somewhere deep inside this site [I don't remember where exactly]. Whichever page it was, I found some information, but not enough, so I sent an e-mail to the address that you see in the sidebar on the left there, asking for more information. I figured I'd probably eventually get some kind of form letter reply.

I came home this evening to find this in my email inbox:

Thank you for your recent email to the National Union of Public and General Employees regarding the origins of Canada's single-payer health care system. We have a pamphlet posted on our website which provides some background detail on this subject. You can find the pamphlet at this link: http://www.nupge.ca/publications/Not%20without%20a%20fight%20FINAL.pdf. In essence, we were able to establish a single-payer system for a few simple reasons: (a) In the 50's and 60's we had a social democratic Premier in the province of Saskatchewan named Tommy Douglas. He believed in the benefits of a single-payer system (specifically the notion of equality) and introduced legislation that guaranteed a single-payer system in that province. It didn't happen without a fight (as our pamphlet explains). The opposition consisted mainly of for-profit insurance companies and doctors. But Douglas stood his ground. (b) the people of Saskatchewan were fed up with the for-profit medical system that existed and wanted a public system (c) Once Saskatchewan had a single-payer system and proved it could work better than a for-profit system, then the rest of he country wanted the same thing. In the late 60's and early 70's we had a series of minority federal governments and the opposition NDP demanded that the minority Liberal government implement a national single-payer system or they would no longer keep the government in office and force an election. The liberal minority government wanted to retain power so they introduced legislation called the Canada Health Act guaranteeing a single-payer system for all Canadians. All of that's to say you need: (a) a strong political leader willing to legislate single-payer and prove to other states that it does work; (b) strong grassroots support for a single-payer system; (c) the right political circumstances nationally in order to spread the system across the whole country. I hope this information has been helpful. Again, our pamphlet has more details about the situation in Saskatchewan in the 60's and 70's.
Take care,
Mike Luff
Coordinator of Communications and Research
National Union of Public and General Employees

Wow. That's service. Thank you, Mike.

I've browsed their site a bit this evening, especially the parts where they're trying to fight off the backers of for-profit health care. Nice karmic touch: here I am, merrily blogging about how wonderful universal health care would be and what a great example of it Canada is. Meanwhile, they're using the United States as a great example of how expensive, inefficient, and just plain awful private, for-profit health care is.

Here's their front page for the section about Canada's Medicare system.

I really do need to get back to my letter writing. This time, I think I'll start with the eight Democratic Presidential candidates, and send them all e-mails about what I want them to do about health care.


daveto said...

catching up ... just fyi

i.e. he's not unappreciated, just sain

hipparchia said...

ha! thanks for that link.

do they allow temporary bigamy there? i've about come to the conclusion that i need to marry my way into your country. i'd divorce y'all as soon as decently possible, and wouldn't even ask for a single penny of alimony.

daveto said...

trick: find out when the Canadian spring break is (not the same as yours), then find your way over to Daytona or Lauderdale, lotso eligible Canadians workin on their tans (my guarantee! .. just follow the pink skin!)

hipparchia said...

why didn't you tell me about this back when i was living over there in that part of the state?!

daveto said...

gee, i thought everybody knew! (first link is hilarious by the way)

i had a brush with fame in florida. at that big conference centre where they have the Doral golf tournament, and at a local restaurant, sitting there minding my own business, and who's at the *next* table??: okay, small things for small minds, what can i say

hipparchia said...

y'all love us. [funny funny link! thanks.]

i used to work with a group of folks who frequented a hole-in-the-wall beer-and-pizza place for lunch. we scheduled our trips around some soap opera [days of our lives? all my children? i dunno, they all look alike to me], because if you got there during the show you'd likely not get served, and if you got there in time to get pizza it was great fun watching the bar personnel [and some of the patrons] watching the show.