News of the Day ... In Perspective11/20/2006
Canada’s social system expected to collapse soon
By 2040, the proportion of the Canadian population over the age of 65 will have increased from 13% to 25%, and will continue to rise, according to optimistic projections by the United Nations.
Canada’s birth rate is now 1.5, or more than 25% below replacement level, having decreased by 25% between 1992 and 2002. It could easily reach 1.0 in another decade.
In 1959, Catholic Quebec had the highest birthrate in Canada, but it is now the lowest. While Quebec separatists, who currently outnumber federalists, say they must secede from Canada to preserve their heritage and culture, that culture is already threatened with extinction by massive debt, low productivity, and abysmal birthrate, stated former premier Lucien Bouchard.
“We don’t work hard enough. We work less than Ontarians and infinitely less than Americans,” he said. Quebec could not sustain its social programs while working less and having few children (Joseph D’Agostino, PRI Weekly Briefing 11/10/06).
The biggest fiscal drain comes from the single-payer medical system. “Current model of health-care delivery leading us down the path to financial ruin,” states the lead editorial in the Calgary Sun. Health-care costs would consume 50% of Alberta’s budget by 2016 (according to the Fraser Institute) or 2017 (according to Aon Consulting, a firm hired by the Alberta government). Health care would devour 100% of the provincial budget by 2030, if present trends continue.
The conventional government solutions won’t be feasible in the long run, stated a Fraser Institute report. These include raising taxes (to 100% of income?), borrowing more money, delisting more services, and lengthening waiting times. The Fraser Institute’s suggestions (co-payments, permitting private payment, and permitting competition between public and private hospitals) are considered “too right wing” (Calgary Sun 10/8/06).
Although at least 65% of Canadians still say they get good care, a recent poll showed that only 53% of Albertans were satisfied with recent emergency care. The health authority is hiring more social workers and will provide a 24-hour hotline for suggestions (Calgary and Edmonton Sun 10/8/06).
The government has rolled out a high-profile campaign to cut waiting times for cancer surgery. Meanwhile, “line-ups for non-cancer surgeries grow” and “researchers find resources being ‘cannibalized’ to reduce cancer waits” (National Post 9/22/06).
An estimated 90,000 Canadians sought medical care outside their country in 2005. The cry “no two-tiered system” could be replaced by “set our patients free,” stated a lead editorial (National Post 9/18/06).