Paying the Price for COVID

I may have mentioned this before in other discussions, but COVID is not over, no matter how many times you say, “Well, I’ve just had it with COVID,” as if your wishful thinking makes any difference to a worldwide pandemic. If I may refer to a well-known philosopher (Tom Sawyer) “Your sayin’ so don’t make it so.” And yet I hear the comment often, usually spoken with smug satisfaction, as if the speaker really thinks they have taken a stand and made a difference.

And I’m not referring to the seventh wave, here. I’m talking about something much more serious than that: health system burnout.  Politicians have spent the last two and a half years giving in to the wishes of people like those mentioned above and using the good graces of medical professionals to bridge the gap. The gap has been widening the whole time, but we didn’t notice it until last weekend, when the house of cards started its tumble, closing Emergency departments because of lack of staff. Add that to the 9-1-1 debacle with Rogers, and we’ve had a record bad week to be sick.

The Old Way

Oh, well, I suppose we can solve it by stealing a few more doctors from India and South Africa. And we could always qualify all those Filipina nurses working for minimum wage in the homecare industry.

But that’s part of the old colonial attitude. Our standard of living still depends on stealing resources, in this case human resources, from poorer countries. It’s time Canada did better than that. It’s time we pulled our own weight.

The Solution is Easy

It always is: more money. Added university positions for nurses and doctors. Better pay for nurses and other staff. Motivational policies to move medical staff where we want them, probably based on the forgiving of student loans.

I am reminded of the French system, where medical school is free, but doctors have to go wherever in the country they’re sent for a set number of years after graduation.

The Money is Not Easy

I present no specifics, but it seems to me that we need to get out of the old economic attitude that the government has to support businesses in order to keep them going. As Andrew Coyne put it on At Issue a few months back, Bombardier is not a business that gets government help in order to make airplanes. It’s a business that makes airplanes in order to get government money. It’s pretty obvious that the Oil Patch works on a similar theory, and a lot of other industries as well. Finding out exactly how much money is spent this way is far beyond my resources. After all, it’s not in the interest of either politicians or their right-wing supporters to let anybody find out. But I’m sure it is huge.

And now Rogers, after proving the main disadvantage of a monopoly, wants permission to buy out Shaw.

The Bottom Line

Every time some American business lobby puts a complaint to the U S-Mexico-Canada Agreement board about Canadian government subsidies, one of their main arguments is that our government health plans are an aid to making our businesses competitive. Let’s make it true. Everyone knows that direct government grants to industry create lazy industry. Let’s put our government money where it will do the most good for everyone.

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