Jeffrey Simpson Touts More Privatization in Health-Care System

Winnipeg Free Press, September 22, 2012 | Go to article overview

Jeffrey Simpson Touts More Privatization in Health-Care System


The delivery and financing of health care in Canada is hugely complex.

In his eighth book, Toronto Globe and Mail political columnist Jeffrey Simpson argues that the history of how our current system evolved is key to understanding the system's present and future.

For political junkies, there is much to enjoy in Simpson's recounting of the details of the evolution of our health-care system; he includes new material based on discussions with some key political players.

In the hands of a less-skilled writer, this material would be tough slogging, but these well-written pages fly by. However, these details have little to do with the realities of the challenges of medicare or any potential solutions.

Simpson writes with a clear ideological bias. He favours increased privatization. With frequent criticisms of those he calls "unreconstructed defenders of medicare" and the Supreme Court justices who ruled on the landmark Chaoulli case and whom he calls "gifted health policy amateurs," he spares no rhetorical disdain.

Unfortunately, Simpson practises much of the same behaviours he criticizes in others.

While the section describing the history of medicare makes engaging reading, the following 120 pages devoted to a description of the current system and comparisons with other countries is more challenging.

Most readers will find the detailed financial analyses too complex and repetitive. Simpson rarely provides context to help understand the billion-dollar numbers discussed.

Those with a background in health policy or economics will quickly see through the selective arguments he presents to support his agenda.

Simpson acknowledges the limitations inherent in comparing Canada to other jurisdictions. But he then proceeds to ignore all of these limitations and spends considerable time exploring how other jurisdictions fund and deliver health care.

His superficial analyses of multiple complex systems that function within different geographical and demographic realities do not help us understand the Canadian system.

One of the most troubling aspects of this book is the lack of understanding Simpson demonstrates in describing private delivery of health-care services. …

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