Friday, June 10, 2005

Must be fair to the CBC and surprised by the Supreme Court

Imagine my surprise!
Even greater was my surprise during several evening CBC broadcasts suddenly talking about 'European-style Healthcare'. Given explicit references to this in the ruling(s), I suppose it made sense for the reporters to abandon the standard mantra and take their lead from the justices.
If I understood law a little better I might mix my delight at the outcome of the ruling with the concern expressed by the Eclectic Econoclast at the role the justices have apparently arrogated to themselves.
My own naive reading sets off a little less alarm. There are several rulings (two from the majority and a dissent) but the summary seems roughly to be this. It is on the face of it a violation of my rights (were I a Quebecer) to prevent me from contracting for better than the currently supplied public medical service; to arrive at this the judges had to observe that we get poor service. But even this violation could be permitted if the prohibition on private medical care could be shown to serve a larger purpose, for example, the preservation of the public system. Astoundingly to me, the majority judges then concluded that not only did the proponents of the prohibition provide no evidence for such a concern, but that the evidence (from the OECD) points the other way!
The dissenting judges disagreed, pointing heavily to some semi-governmental studies.
Are the judges prescribing the nature of our health-care system? It does not seem so to me, but setting the burden for the state, that if it chooses to suppress my right to try to take care of myself, the state had better have a system in place that does the job, or a good argument for the situation. And the state has neither, ruled the majority.
Now the state could conceivably respond by enormous over-spending on health-care, likely the worst possible solution.
There is an excellent extensive discussion on this as well from Brian Ferguson.
No doubt we have many days of bluster ahead, before we see we this is really going to take us. The prime minister has already pointed to some $40 billions of dollars he has claimed to earmark to saving this sorry institution. The knee jerked.


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