Millroy: “Do I have to quarantine my child?”

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Parents worried about sending their kids to school because of Covid-19 got a little more to worry about last week when CTV reported that two students – one in Grade 2 and one in Grade 5 — had been removed from St. Mary’s French Immersion school in Sault Ste. Marie because they had been outside of the country in the two weeks prior.

This leads, of course, to the question, are these isolated instances or are there others?
The Huron-Superior board was reported as saying parents must complete a screening tool every morning for each student attending school. The first question asks parents if the student had travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days.

This obviously either wasn’t done or was ignored by the parents of the two students at issue.
On Sept. 9 both the school and the school board were informed by a parent who had seen social media posts showing that the children in question were in the United States the previous week.

The concerned parent was shocked to learn that, despite the warning, the children were allowed to attend school the following day. However, they were removed at lunch time, after the school board in the course of its investigation had contacted Algoma Public Health, the Canadian Border Service and the parents of the two students.

The parent who informed the school has a child in the same class as one of the students involved. She asks, “Do I have to quarantine my child?”
CTV said the board did not get back to it. It should.
This case should not just be considered over.
The parents of the children involved knowingly let them attend school after just returning from the United States.
There has to be consequences. What are they?

I APPLAUD A B.C. judge’s decision upholding our universal health-care system, even though I know it is not the end of a  quest to bring a two-tier system to this country.

Brian Day, CEO and medical director of Cambie Surgeries Corp., had challenged the province’s Medicare Protection Act, which bans extra billing and private insurance for medically necessary procedures.

Day had argued during a four-year trial that patients have a constitutional right to pay for private care when wait times in the public system are too long.

But Justice John Steeves of the Supreme Court of British Columbia said in a written ruling that Day and other plaintiffs failed to show patients’ rights are being infringed by the act, adding its focus is on equitable access, not ability to pay.

“Equal or identical care between patients is not part of the purpose of the (Medicare Protection Act) and nor is it achievable,” Steeves said in a story by The Canadian Press, adding those who are healthier and wealthier would benefit most from a parallel health-care system.

Lawyers also failed to provide enough evidence that patients’ constitutional rights are being violated, he said.

I am with the judge all the way.

Take a look at Day’s claim that constitutional rights are being affected by the act.
Whose constitutional rights? Not the majority of Canadians, I would say.

The only benefit I see from Day’s plan is that it would allow people with money to jump the queue.

This, of course, means those who cannot afford the private care would just be dumped further down the line.

This is not what our system is all about.

We have universal care. To allow for a change to a two-tier system would be an affront to those who brought universal health-care to our country and to those of us who count on it being the way it is.

The judge did allow that some patients are waiting for elective surgery beyond established wait-time benchmarks because of a lack of capacity in the public system, which deteriorates their condition and reduces surgical outcomes.

But he said duplicative private health care “would not decrease wait times in the public system and there is expert evidence that wait times would actually increase. This would cause further inequitable access to timely care.”

Provinces have made attempts to reduce wait times in specific areas, such as cardiac and other surgical care, with the most significant development in 2003 when all the provinces affirmed Canadians should have timely access to insured health services on the basis of need, he said.

But Day, who is 72, said wait times in the public system sometimes exceed those established by the provinces.

“I think it’s very disappointing. I think the court made a decision that’s harming patients,” Day said, adding he will appeal to the B.C. Court of Appeal and is prepared to take his case to the Supreme Court of Canada

Lawyers for both the B.C. and federal governments argued a two-tiered approach would erode Canada’s universal health-care system and hurt patients with complex chronic conditions and the elderly.

Dr. Rupinder Brar, spokeswoman for Doctors for Medicare, an intervener at trial, said, “This court case was about me being a doctor and charging patients whatever I want, so those people who can afford it will see me and I’ll see them first. It sets up perverse incentives for doctors.”

There are some private clinics in B.C. and Adrian Dix, the province’s health minister, said they played a small role in performing, under contract so they are separate from the public system, 12,000 procedures out of 300,000 done in the public system

There is no way that doctors can be allowed to bill through both public and private systems, since there will always be people willing to pay to jump the queue and there will always be some doctors who will let them.

A decision in a Quebec case by the Supreme Court of Canada went the other way but it didn’t seem to open any doors.

If this one gets to the Supreme Court, I would hope it rules the way the majority of Canadians view their health care, one system only.

 

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