[HALIFAX] – For the second time in three years, the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS) has been recognised with a distinguished international prize for excellence in think tank publications. The Atlas Economic Research Foundation has just announced that its coveted Sir Antony Fisher Memorial Prize was awarded to the Institute for its paper on Canada’s health care system. Operating in the Dark: The Gathering Crisis in Canada’s Public Health Care System was published by the Institute in November 1999.

A jury of some of the world’s leading economists, including a Nobel Laureate, awards the Fisher Prize for the publication that, in the jury’s collective opinion, made the greatest contribution to public understanding of the economy.

Policy institutes in forty countries throughout the world are eligible for the prize of which two are awarded annually, one for institutes less than five years old, the other for older and more established institutes. Over 20 nominations for the Fisher Prize were made this year, from public policy institutes in Turkey, Belgium, UK, Venezuela, Ecuador, the USA and Canada. Topics covered globalism, welfare privatisation, environmentalism, social security, health care, free trade, liberty and democracy and more.

AIMS won in the “new institute” category, sharing the Prize this year with a Turkish think tank, the Association for Liberal Thinking, for their book, Islam, Civil Society and Market Economy. The Prize for older think tanks went to California’s Independent Institute for To Serve and Protect: Privatization and Community in Criminal Justice.

The Prize brings with it a cash award. Because the “new institute” prize was shared by AIMS and the Association for Liberal Thinking, each received $5,000 US.

Operating in the Dark was co-written by AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley, Director of Medical Informatics at Dalhousie University, Dr. David Zitner, and AIMS Policy Analyst Nancy Faraday-Smith. In the paper the authors argue that the growing crisis in the health care system may be traced back to the monopolistic nature of public health care provision in Canada. In large part due to this monopoly mentality, the health care system cannot be properly managed because managers and policymakers do not have access to vital information about the system’s performance. Finally, the paper argued that if Canadians wanted to preserve the key elements of the system, and particularly a tax-financed approach that did not distribute medical care on the ability to pay, then greater private sector participation in health care provision was virtually unavoidable.

Alberta Premier Ralph Klein tabled the AIMS report in the Alberta legislature, and referred to it in a major interview in The Globe and Mail as helping to show the way forward for the Canadian health care system.

AIMS is the first institute in the history of the Fisher Prize to win twice in its first five years of existence. The Institute won the Prize for the first time in 1997 for its book on the impact of massive federal transfers on Atlantic Canada, Looking the Gift Horse in the Mouth, by the Institute’s then Senior Policy Analyst, Fred McMahon.

The Fisher Awards celebrate and honour the life, ideals and achievements of the founder of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, the late Sir Antony Fisher. The Prizes recognise public policy institutes that produce outstanding publications. Sir Antony, a decorated WWII fighter pilot and innovative entrepreneur, is best remembered as the founder of one of the world’s very first public policy think tanks, the prestigious Institute of Economic Affairs in London.

The judges who awarded the Sir Antony Fisher Memorial Prize to AIMS are:

James Buchanan, co-originator (with Gordon Tullock) of public choice economics, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics;

Alejandro Chafuen, an Argentine economist, President of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in Fairfax, Virginia;

Israel Kirzner, a distinguished Professor of Economics at New York University;

Henri Lepage, head of a French public policy institute and noted writer on economic affairs;

Norman Macrae, the former Deputy Editor of The Economist newspaper and widely-published author on the themes of economic and social change;

Christian Watrin, a German economist; and

E.G. West, an internationally recognised authority in the field of the economics of education. He is Professor Emeritus of Economics at Carleton University in Ottawa and a member of the AIMS Research Advisory Board.
For further information contact:

Brian Lee Crowley, President of AIMS, (902) 499-1998 or David Zitner, Director of Medical Informatics, Dalhousie University, (902) 494-3802.