In April of 2018 Ryan Straschnitzki’s life was tragically altered forever when he was paralyzed from the waist down in the horrific vehicular accident involving the Humboldt Broncos. Reports have Straschnitzki now miraculously moving his legs after undergoing experimental surgery in Thailand. This has many people wondering why the young hero was forced to leave his own country to receive the healthcare he deserved.
One of the biggest brags Canadians have is that our universal healthcare is free. But there is a caveat to that free service – it is only single tier. It is equally free, and often equally atrocious, for all of us. The experimental surgery Straschnitzki had successfully undergone in Thailand would have likely never been green lit in Canada. Never been green lit unless he lived in Quebec.
Quebec is the only province to have successfully established the right for its citizens to seek local, private healthcare. 2005 SCC Chaoulli v. Quebec held that it violated Quebecers’ rights to not have the private option when public healthcare was deemed inadequate. Chaoulli was long awaiting a hip replacement, and argued it was violating his rights. He took his case all the way to the Supreme Court, where he won a split decision 4-3. Interesting enough, the SCC held that the unavailability of private healthcare for Chaoulli only violated his Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, but not the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. As far as the latter was concerned, they voted 3-3, while one did not voice an opinion.
It is easy to be angered that as a leading Western Country, where our medical practices should be among the most advanced, Straschnitzki should have to travel to Thailand for surgery. And I’d definitely have to agree. The opposite side of this thinking, however, is that once we embrace privatization it is a slippery slope. Once we begin allowing Canadian Medical Doctors to begin any private practices, it will naturally draw the best and the brightest. The fear is that we will have a two-tier system, where the wealthy will receive the best healthcare, and the rest get the leftover physicians.
This is a topic which will always remain polarizing for Canadians. But on the bright side of things, Straschnitzki has moved his legs again. The only question which will linger is: should he have had to travel to Thailand to do so?
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