Just when we need a robust health care system, we realize the extent of its limitations. Even the Prime Minister must invoke the extreme fragility of the health network when he explains the importance of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.
There is no doubt that some massive sanitary measures are needed to prevent this damn virus from causing too much damage. Despite everything, the average Quebecer is entitled to ask himself two simple questions.
Do we have to restrict our activities one more step because the health care system is fragile?
Is medical care other than COVID abnormally affected by this fragility?
Given the portrait we have recently been painted of the health system, there is a great temptation to answer yes to these two questions. It goes without saying that the Legault government will answer that it inherited this damaged health network, due to the errors of its predecessors.
If we forget about politics, we are entitled to ask ourselves questions about our health care system and what we have been told about it for decades.
The best !
I am in a good position to speak about it. I was one of the only Quebecers to dare to attack the sacrosanct foundations of the health care system. A centralized state monopoly with health insurance as the sole payer. This is the basis of this system where we have put all our marbles.
Few countries have made this choice, if not a handful of communist countries. All European countries have rejected this model.
However, in Quebec and in Canada, what do we get when we want to fundamentally reform health care? We have the best system in the world!
Supposedly, every country in the world is jealous of the healthy Canada model. Supposedly, observers from all over come to see the Canadian miracle! Curious all the same that among all those who would envy us, no country has made the same choice as us in 50 years. Not one !
Lament or change?
During all these years, the population lives with dissatisfaction with health care. Totally disproportionate wait in the emergency room. Unreasonable wait for access to a doctor. Unbearable waiting lists for diagnostics and for operations.
The citizen sees the flaws and lives the consequences. But when the time comes to change for real, he is convinced that the basis of the system is excellent. It would just take small adjustments. Replace health agencies by state authorities. Then replace the governed by CISSS and CIUSSS.
What if all of these changes were porridge made with the same ingredients? If I submitted to you that the pandemic reveals the real weaknesses of the system. Centralization, incentives in the wrong places, staff management centered on unionism, profound inefficiency.
The pandemic is telling us things. We cannot reform health care during the crisis. It will be necessary to remember it afterwards.