Friday, June 24, 2005

A Conflict of Hypocrisies

NOTE: See subsequent post for correction

Recent "revelations" that military members get accelerated access to things like MRIs and other diagnostic tests seems to have shocked some people. Considering the systemic mistreatment of the military by the Liberal Government and the jobs that the over-tasked and under-appreciated members of the Canadian Forces are asked to do on short notice, shouldn't even the socialists of the medicare debate cut them some slack?

What do they think happens with firefighters, law enforcement personnel, anyone covered by Workers Compensation and, ahem, Members of Parliament?

Like so many things that the military used to be able to count on in the performance of their duties, access to their own health care system has been severely cut back. Like every other shortfall that the military endures, this has been primarily due to a lack of adequate funding.

By contracting out military health care, the Liberals can be seen to do something about their long-term hypocrisy about how they treat the military. Alas, it now exposes their hypocrisy about the realities of healthcare delivery in Canada.

In my thirty years as a pilot, I served on many squadrons. On every one, we had a flight surgeon assigned, and he or she was part of our squadron team. They went everywhere with us, and we trusted them with our careers. As any military aviator knows, the annual medical is an occasion that calls up all manner of fear and trepidation that something might be found to clip one's wings.

If the Government of Canada and the Canadian people expect the military to be ready when needed; then priority access to health care should be a given. If local communities want police and firefighters to be available to respond to their emergencies; then priority access to health care should be a given. If companies need skilled individuals to keep the engine of the economy running and they pay into Worker's Compensation; then priority access to health care should be a given.

Healthy military and para-military organizations equal physical security. A healthy workforce equals economic security.

Doctors in uniform also provided a valuable asset to their local civilian communities. In many cases, the only qualified specialist capabilities, such as anaesthesiology, resided in the military doctors in remote locations, such as Cold Lake. Cutbacks in military medical service also caused hardship to nearby civilian populations and increased the overall cost of health care for those areas.

Maybe, if the military budget hadn't been so decimated by Paul Martin, places like Cold Lake might even have MRIs and qualified people to help serve the surrounding area. Maybe machines could be used more than the restricted hours now available because of the power that organized labour holds over health care delivery in Canada.

There are many things wrong with Canada's health care system. Those ills won't be solved simply by promising to replace, over ten years, less than was ripped out (adjusted for inflation) , in the first few years of Paul Martin's rule as Finance Minister. And, they certainly won't be solved by picking on organizations like the Canadian Forces who are simply doing what they have to do to meet the commitments that we have given them.

The pious condemnation of anything that smacks of anyone getting preferential treatment, regardless of logic, common sense and need, reminds me of an old Winston Churchill quote - "The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Communism is the equal sharing of misery."

Okay everyone, hands up all who think that Canada's federal socialist leader, Jack Layton, would put himself at the back of the queue if he (or his wife) needed an MRI. I didn't think so.