This was originally written on Minds.com but since it pertained to my situation, I’m repeating it here with minor alterations.
Ask anyone their opinion about the size of government and you’ll get a spectrum of opinion so wide you’ll need Star Trek’s warp drive to traverse it within a lifetime.
On the left, you’ll hear arguments — even the well-thought-out ones — of how important it is for government to play a part in our lives. On the right, you’ll hear about the minimalist government model — which focuses primarily on tasks such as trade, national defence, and law — that keeps its collective nose out of business and individual determination. Such diversity of opinion is a good sign of a healthy democracy but it does lead to heated debates.
My own opinion on the size of government, particularly where Canada’s social safety net is concerned, is that there’s certainly a lot of budget fat to trim. My favourite rant topic is subsidized provincial health care which first of all is NOT free: it’s paid for through paycheque deductions. Ontario’s government-run health care system, OHIP, costs $51.8 billion Cdn or 39% of the provincial budget of $134 billion Cdn (Feb 2016 report).
I personally find the system wanting. I waited six weeks to get a specialist to remove a mole on my back plus an additional 2 weeks to wait for the results (lucky for me the mole was non-cancerous). Some parts of the system like vision and dental care are not covered (unless you are an immigrant). Having a mobian cyst on my left eye removed would have cost me over $200 because it’s classified as COSMETIC SURGERY (and they don’t accept cash!) so I said hell with that that and used a homeopathic solution I found on Google that worked. Disclaimer: that was a judgement call on my part. See a licensed medical professional first before trying anything like that.
Ontario’s health care system delivers one lousy ROI. I mean, if we are throwing that much money in a system that still makes you wait for a long time and does not cover everything, there is definitely waste somewhere.
Having said this, I also believe having a subsidized health care system is VERY important, as I found out on October 16th, 2016.
What happened to me was totally out of the blue. I was wrapping up a stay at Tim Horton’s after reading comments about a blog post I wrote on Minds.com on poverty and homelessness. I took note of the time and realized I was due at my mother’s place to help her with the dusting and vacuuming. I took the bus to my mother’s apartment and rode the elevator to her floor. I was about 15 to 20 steps to her suite door when suddenly the simple concept of walking, maintaining balance and fumbling for my keys to open her door became a feat as difficult as designing the CN Tower. Everything became VERY hard to do. My brain was sending signals to my body that were not translating into action and I began to panic while seemingly locked in mid-stride.
I managed to regain enough control to reason (idiotically) that if I simply went back down the elevator to the first floor and try the attempt again, it will work. You know, like how a plane retries a runway landing when the wind is too strong. So back to the first floor I go, struggling with fear and bewilderment at how difficult things have become and found the second attempt even harder than the first. On the third try I actually did make it to the door but at this point I’m having a hell of a time breathing, my heart is hammering in my chest and I’m sweating a waterfall. I can’t hold on to my keys so I drop them, nearly fall over while trying to pick them up, and made my way back to the elevator to try yet again. Inside the elevator I’m pounding the wall with my fists while screaming like a banshee. Just as I almost roll out of the elevator, a man walks up to me and asks if I’m okay. From the look on his face, it’s clear things are not okay and I feebly squeak out a “take me to the hospital”.
Once I get to the hospital ER, I’m soaked in sweat and I let the man do the talking. He tells the contact there what happened but he reported my left arm was twitching. I did not recall that happening but I had enough going on with me to probably miss that detail. After what seemed like a lengthy wait (I’m not sure of the actual wait time) I’m taken into a room, asked to grip the ER nurse’s hand with first my left and then my right hand, balance on either leg and confirm my vision was clear. When asked, I told her this never happened to me before and I am not taking any medication.
A CT was taken of my head and I was told to wait some more in another room. By then I’ve been in the ER for a little over three hours and I’ve calmed down enough. A doctor comes in with a clipboard and what looks like my CT clipped to it. He asks me (once again) to grip his hand with first my left and then my right hand, balance on either foot, and recall what happened to me and how I felt. He said he could not see anything physiologically wrong but arranges an appointment with a neurologist who will review my CT the hospital will send.
Nearly a week passes and I’m at my appointment with the neurologist who has my CT enhanced in a way to appear more blue and lighter. He points out a teeny tiny spot in an area bordering the frontal and parietal lobe about the size of a period in this sentence and not too deep in the brain. Because it’s so small, he cannot determine for sure if it was a micro-hemorrhage that would have been measured in red blood cell counts, an abscess, or something as harmless as inert protein matter which rarely happens yet is normal development. Having said this, he assured me I’m fine, that it’s not brain plague or a tumour, He concludes that it could have been was an anxiety attack, triggered by a sensory flash like light refraction off my glasses, or I burned out from stress over not finding stable housing and employment. Having been given a clean bill of health, I contacted my mother to apologize for not showing up and to explain what happened.
So why did I share this with you? Because had there been no universally accessible affordable health care system in Canada, I would have been — how should I put this…
I would have had to pay for being treated in ER, seeing a nurse, seeing two doctors and getting a CT scan done. As a person of no fixed address suffering from lack of full-time employment, there was no way I could have paid for that.
Let’s take it one step further. What would have happened if I didn’t get that clean bill of health? What if I required medication? Surgery? Radiation and chemotherapy? I shudder at the thought of what I would be on the hook for, and the idea that health care would only be for those who could pay for it.
Look, I get it that government is wasteful with our tax dollars. A few specific politicians need a smack upside the head in order to make them understand it’s OUR goddamn money (*whack* “Just Him” Trudeau). We have every right to demand transparency in the government services our tax dollars pay for.
Let’s not forget everyone has a right to get better from an illness and to heal from an injury, though. Healthy people means a healthy society and a healthy economy.
Thanks for reading!