Trash talking about health care

Brian Jones
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If there is anyone left in this dear dominion needing more evidence that too many Canadians are in an advanced stage of docility and obedience to Kafkaesque officialdom, they need look no further than

the preposterous regulations thrust upon the citizens of Kelowna, B.C.

Municipal officials in the central Okanagan region have decreed it wise and advantageous to mount video cameras on garbage trucks.

In a sane world, this news would prompt most Canadians who do not live in the Kelowna area to wonder whether Okanaganites are so prosperous that they throw out valuable stuff, which is targeted by thieves, and thus the need for video cameras on garbage trucks.

But the cameras are not intended to guard against the pilfering of last week’s outdated flat-screen

TV that has been sent curbside, but rather to enforce municipal recycling regulations.

Anyone who, for instance, wantonly tosses recyclable cans or bottles into the trash instead of into the recycling bin will be subject to a fine up to $100, and municipal authorities will have video proof to help convict the scoundrel. Somewhere, George Orwell is weeping.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association expressed doubt people’s privacy rights could be extended to things they throw out, but nevertheless opined that mounting video cameras on garbage trucks to record the contents of residents’ garbage and recycling bins was a proverbial slippery slope.

“This is a slope — we’re not sure how slippery it is,” the association’s policy director told The Vancouver Province.

It is steep, and coated with kitchen grease. It is enviro-fanaticism masquerading as conservation. It is a vile endorsement of the credo that the ends justify the means. And it is another example of Canadians obediently believing authorities know best.

This tendency toward docility explains a lot in Canadian politics.

Government and health-care authorities brag so much about Canada’s health-care system being among the best in the world that some people actually believe it. Hence the sneering, self-righteous tone when Canadian patriots talk contemptuously about “American-style” health care, i.e., a system that is substandard and unjust.

But all that boasting by MPs, health-care executives and even some doctors sounds like bluster to patients who have to wait four months, six months or longer to see a specialist, get a test done, have an operation, etc.

Then there’s money. Canadians are constantly told the health-care system, as top-notch and near perfect as it is, is too expensive.

A report released this week provided a rare puncturing of the myth that Canada’s health-care system is universal (one of the braggarts’ favourite words). The report also demolished the argument that the system costs too much public money.

Prescriptions drug costs are the great unequalizer of the Canadian health-care system. Visiting a doctor costs patients nothing, but the ensuing trip to the pharmacist can cost a bundle. For people without a health plan, prescription drug costs can be exorbitant. Even people with health plans have varying degrees of coverage to help pay for prescription drugs. It’s an American-style aspect of the Canadian system, and it is disturbingly unjust.

The report, prepared by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, says Canadians could save billions of dollars if a public pharmacare plan were established. Slashing more than $10 billion off the country’s $25-billion annual prescription drug bill could be accomplished by, among other things, cutting public subsidies to drug companies, boosting competition in the pharmaceutical industry, using generic drugs and buying drugs in bulk, the report stated.

Instituting a national pharmacare program would really give Canadians something to brag about.

Of course, prescription pick-up counters in drugstores across the country would have to be equipped with video cameras, so officials could keep an eye on untrustworthy sick people.


Brian Jones is an editor at The Telegram. He can be reached by e-mail at

Organizations: B.C. Civil Liberties Association, Canadian Centre, The Telegram

Geographic location: Kelowna, Okanagan, Canada

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Recent comments

  • Wildrose
    September 17, 2010 - 07:40

    Only the NDPs would propose such a proposterous and socialist scheme. If you want to save healthcare, get big government out and let the private secotr do what it does best.