Tuesday, October 13, 2009


It's just anecdotal. But it's rich. Learned over the weekend from the local [rural Newfoundland] anaesthetist:

A certain town in southern Newfoundland is home to one of the handful of good small regional hospitals in the province. However, the nearest CT scanner is in St. John's, at the province's only major-league hospital -- a four-hour drive away. So you come to the regional hospital with chest pains, and the attending physician wants to give you a CT scan to check out your heart. You'll have to get an appointment in St. John's, and then travel. If they send you home from the hospital to wait your turn, you'll wait three weeks or more. But if you've been admitted to the hospital, the wait is only a matter of days. So what should the doctor do?

Of course: the doctor admits the patient, for no other reason than to move him ahead in the queue. He spends the better part of a week trundling aimlessly up and down the hospital hallways in his bathrobe, taking up a bed and using hospital supplies and services on the public dollar -- all to game the system into cutting down his wait-time for a necessary diagnostic procedure.

But hey -- it's FREE!

Not long ago, over at the Mother Blog, I sounded off about medical care in Canada, to this effect:

There are many comments and criticisms one could make about any single-payer [government] health insurance system, such as Canada's. But on that subject, I am fond of making this factual (not critical) observation:

The Canadian Health Care System is a gift from the American taxpayer and their national military.

Why? Because if Canada invested in its own defense to the extent required to genuinely protect its people and territory without dependence upon the United States, the country wouldn't have a hope in Hades of affording socialized medicine.

The U.S. military is 2,300,000 strong (regular plus reserves), with plans for another 750,000 to be added within the next three years.

The Canadian military is less than 100,000 strong (regular plus reserves), with no plans for increase. The number has already increased from its nadir in 2001 [having fallen by one third in the decade since 1991].

Canada's population is approximately one tenth [10%] that of the U.S., and its land mass is larger.

Canada's military population is less than one half of 1% [.043] of that of the U.S. [Feel free to help me with the math if I've screwed this up.]

Canada is essentially defended at the expense of the United States, with Canadians secure in their knowledge that the U.S. would never permit any military threat to their northern neighbour, because it's just too close to home and would leave America vulnerable.

So Canada's far (FAR) from perfect health care system is even more expensive than anybody is letting on. In at least one sense, it has cost Canadians their sovereignty.

I would only amend these remarks by emphasizing, because it needs to be said, that in the Good Old Days before Trudeaupia infected the land, Canada had a proud tradition of punching WAY above its weight in joining the community of nations for the preservation of the civilized world.

Proportionately to its population, Canada's military contribution to b
oth World Wars was substantial -- almost staggering. KIA's ran at 10%, if memory serves. Another member of the British Commonwealth, the then-independent mini-country of Newfoundland, made an even larger proportional contribution: for example, on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in the Great War, Newfoundland casualties came to 90% -- but they stayed in, kept joining up, and felt themselves born as a nation.

Today's Canadian Forces, ridiculously undersupplied and undersupported, and ever at the mercy of political winds, has acquitted itself with honour in Afghanistan, its ranks still heavily populated with the sons and daughters of the Maritime provinces -- as well as Québèc, amazingly enough [their storied Royal 22nd Regiment called "The Vandoos", for

Historically, Canadian support for the military cratered in an inverse ratio to the rise of the statism and universal entitlements of Trudeaupian socialism (under which the military branches were forcibly amalgamated in 1968, into the generic "forces", sporting
a dull airline-pilot-style service dress). The numerical nadir of the forces was reached around 2001, but has crept upward since then (with distinctive uniform restoration too).

As a percentage of GDP, Canada's military budget ranks one-hundred-and-eleventh in the world.

So, despite their valiant character and record, today's Canadian Forces lack sufficient numbers [IMHO] to single-handedly beat back a serious invasion of even their youngest province [that would be Newfoundland], much less the whole country [the second largest national land-mass in the world].

But it's a small price to pay for universal health-care.


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