Provincial and territorial ministers committed in a health accord signed last year to establish scientifically based benchmarks for waiting times in five treatment areas -- cancer care, heart treatment, diagnostic imaging, sight restoration and joint replacement -- by Dec. 31. In return, the federal government agreed to give them an extra $41-billion over 10 years.
But the health ministers have interpreted that as meaning they must set a benchmark waiting time for at least one type of treatment in each of those areas. If, for instance, they set a target waiting time for lung cancer treatment, they will not necessarily set targets for any other type of cancer treatment by the deadline.
So, in theory, they could set benchmarking times for five treatments by Dec. 31 and say the requirements of the accord have been met. More benchmarks would then be added as scientific evidence becomes available.
How typically Liberal an approach to healthcare reform: set vague guidelines open to the loosest interpretation, throw in a big wad of cash, and claim that the problem has been solved.
Setting theoretical waiting time deadlines will not speed up treatments for patients who must still wait in line in the public system.
But it will at least let them know how long the government expects them to suffer to protect the sacred principle of one-tier healthcare.
Source: Globe and Mail