Tuesday, February 2, 2010

N.L. Premier Danny Williams in the U.S. for heart surgery

Yesterday I read in the National Post that premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Danny Williams, is scheduled for heart surgery later this week, but his office would not confirm whether the surgery will take place in Canada or in the United States. This morning I read at CTV News that the premier will travel to the United States to have his heart operation.

As a Canadian citizen, Mr. Williams has every right to travel anywhere he wishes to have an operation. But isn’t it a shame that the average Canadian isn’t also given the choice between using our state-funded health care system and using a private hospital or clinic?

We poor schmucks have to wait in line—sometimes months—because our governments have decided we are better off being denied the benefit of private health care. Public health care, we are told by the likes of Danny Williams—is the only way to go. Even to suggest that perhaps private health care might have a roll to play in Canada will result in being shouted down and made to feel un-Canadian.

Deputy premier Kathy Dunderdale is quoted as saying:

“Based on all the medical advice that he’s received, he is doing what’s best for him, and [doing] everything he can to ensure that he can have the best outcome from the surgery and that he can be back on his feet, back here doing his job as quickly as possible.”

Well, isn’t that nice. He’s doing what’s best for himself, i.e., foregoing Canadian health care in favour of private medical care in the United States.

The CEO of Eastern Health, Vickie Kaminski is quoted on the CTV News Web site as saying that it’s not uncommon for people to leave Newfoundland and Labrador to get cardiac surgery done.

I hope Danny Williams’s surgery goes well and wish him a quick recovery and return to work.

Perhaps when the premier is fully recovered he’ll consider tabling legislation which will allow private operators to offer a full range of heart treatment for profit in his province—perhaps then prominent citizens will not have to seek those services in a foreign country.

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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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  1. I'm mostly concerned that if Obama Canadianizes the American health care system, that I will have no place to go if I ever need major surgery!

  2. I thought we weren't going to have two-tier health care in Canada.

  3. Iceman,

    Really? YOu think Obama is going to transform the american health care system into the Canadian model? Really honest to god? Yikes. the Dems most ambitious plan won't result in a system that's anything like Canada's.

    Canadians need to realize that there are advantages of the American model, but the rabid free marketers (thanks for the recession by the way) need to realize that there's probably as much right with the Canadian system as there is wrong.

    It's hard to say that about the American system.

  4. Is Danny Williams really against a national private option? If so, can you point me to a source? He's a Conservative, after all.

    Glad to see Harper and Danny are mending fences. Speedy recovery, Danny.

  5. Anon 4:13 PM, doesn't Google work on your computer? Here's one link: http://www.thewesternstar.com/index.cfm?sid=171094&sc=506

  6. Our Politicians have double standards when it comes to healthcare -- One for the general Public and another one for the Politicians and those who can Pull strings??? Who is footing the Bill for his surgery??? Those that in a long lineup for surgery here??

  7. I knew people would jump on this and make it a case for a slag on the Canadian system before all the facts have come in. National Post have updated the story with comments from Heart specialist from Montreal and Toronto. They say that Williams could have stayed in Canada. Here is quote from the article.

    "Virtually all forms of cardiac surgery are looked after in Canada, and I would say extremely well," said Dr. Chris Feindel, a cardiac surgeon at Toronto's University Health Network. "Personally ... I would have my cardiac surgery done in Canada, no matter what resources I had at my disposal."

    In fact, he said, patients from the United States and other countries come to the UHN's Peter Munk Cardiac Centre for valve repairs, a procedure developed by Toronto surgeons. Meanwhile, the death rate after bypass surgery in Ontario is among the lowest in North America, reports the province's Cardiac Care Network.

    Of course, we never read articles about these Americans coming to Canada for care. Maybe because Canadians believe in honest journalism, before cherry picking a story and painting with a broad brush.

  8. Anon 9:28 PM, a heart specialist from Ottawa said much the same thing on CTV's Power Play yesterday afternoon.

    I don't see this as "a case for a slag on the Canadian system," but rather as a reason to slag hypocritical politicians.

    I agree Canada has a good health care system. Can it be improved? Yes. Should we have access to privately-funded services in addition to the publicly funded option? I think we should.