Recent studies have concluded that the Canada’s health care system needs an annual infusion of between three and five billion dollars to ensure universal, high-quality care. The debate is raging: Where to find this money? In a country as rich as Canada, the answer is simple: We can have the world’s best public health care system if it becomes a priority for the public. High-quality, universally accessible health care can be funded by redirecting existing resources. Consider the following simple calculation.
Statistics Canada and Leger Marketing have recently reported that (in 2000) 58% Canadians used cell phones. If there is one phone for every two users, and the average monthly bill is $25, the total annual public payment for cell phones is $2.7 billion. That’s a good start! Billions more have been spent by corporations and government on cell phone infrastructure. The next time you see the lights of a cellular tower winking on the horizon, think: There’s an MRI machine. And don’t forget the hundreds of millions spent on advertising to convince Canadians that we all absolutely need to carry a phone with us at all times.
If this is not enough cash to save children, treat the dying with dignity, ensure quick hip replacements on demand, etc., we could also redirect the $1.5 billion Canadians spend annually on Hallowe’en decorations and treats. I know what you’re thinking: Keep your hands off my candy!
The question is not “Can we afford a universal, publicly funded health care system?” The question is: “Do we really want it?”