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Part One: Responses to Definitely Not the Romanow Report

Critics lambaste Romanow over ‘complacent defence of status quo’

The day after the release of AIMS latest study, “Definitely Not the Romanow Report: Achieving Equity, Sustainability, Accountability and Consumer Empowerment in Canadian Health Care”, the ideas put forward received national attention as newspapers across the country focused on the innovative alternatives being put forward.

In this article, Steve Macleod from the Canadian Press states that, “the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, in a scathing report released Tuesday, criticizes Romanow for his role as head of a royal commission on the future of health care. Brian Crowley, the report’s co-author, accuses Romanow of hearing only what he wants to hear, and ruling out many of the innovations that have vaulted several Western countries ahead of Canada in terms of health-care delivery.”

Romanow’s report puts his values in the place of Canadians’

In this piece, which has been reprinted across the country, AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley shows how what Roy Romanow heard from Canadians was transformed into what Mr. Romanow wanted Canadians to say – a skilful ventriloquism act.

What the Romanow Commission heard from focus groups across the country was pretty much what Canadians have been telling pollsters for the last several years. Canadians are a down-to-earth, non-ideological, practical people. They’re interested in what works and they’re interested in real solutions to the growing evidence of the accelerating decline of the health care system.

But that didn’t square with the views of Mr. Romanow and his merry band. So they marched their focus groups into a room, and presented them with “expert opinion” to show these poor benighted citizens why the things they were willing to try were bad. Unsurprisingly, on being presented with what seemed to be an objective and authoritative debunking of ideas that had seemed practical and worthy of trying, the members of Mr. Romanow’s focus groups timidly gave in to the views of the “experts”. But the irony is that there is lots of evidence in the academic and policy literature that the practical, common sense things that Canadians were prepared to look at actually do make a difference for the better.

From the very first Mr. Romanow made it clear that the foundation on which all of his work would be built would be the values of Canadians. If he had honoured that commitment, his report would look very different indeed.

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Part Two: Give U.S. no reason to close border, AIMS in the Ottawa Citizen

Give U.S. no reason to close border, Canada warned

On November 22, 2002 AIMS was the Atlantic Canadian organizer of a national consultation on US-Canada relations. This project, called “Borderlines” is a national, non-partisan effort put together by organizations and individuals across the country who share the belief that the evolution of Canada’s place in North America may be the most important issue of our time. In this piece from the Ottawa Citizen, journalist Robert Sibley highlights one of the key messages heard again and again throughout the day long event:

The primary security threat to Canada is economic, and it comes from the United States. If we fail at the operational level to prevent a cross-border terrorist strike, even through no fault of our own, if we fail even once so that American lives are lost at the hands of agents who launched their assault from Canadian soil, the campaign to keep the border open will be immediately and entirely lost.

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Part Three: Newfoundland’s punishing taxes on business heroes

Newfoundland Exploration Industry Faces Highest Taxes in Country; A heck of a way to treat your local heroes

As AIMS Fellow on Newfoundland Issues, Peter Fenwick says in this new piece, in 1996 Voisey’s Bay discoverers Al Chislett and Chris Verbiski were Canadian prospectors of the year; feted in their home province of Newfoundland, and given honourary degrees from Memorial University. They were the home-grown boys who would lead Newfoundland to prosperity.

But that most-favored-son status didn’t last long. Today their exploration company, Archean has the dubious distinction of being the highest taxed company in Canada. The two prospectors are now considering moving their company to a lower taxation province.

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Part Four: Why we don’t got milk

New Brunswick was recently hauled before a dispute settlement panel under our Byzantine agreement on interprovincial trade. The New Brunswick Farm Products Commission had refused to license a Nova Scotia company, Farmers Dairy, to market its milk products in New Brunswick. Farmers, quite rightly, thought this violated New Brunswick’s commitments under the Agreement on Internal Trade, that tries to establish the apparently revolutionary principle that Canadians should be able to do business anywhere in our fair country without being discriminated against by governments.

New Brunswick lost, and was ordered to rectify the problem and issue Farmers a license. In this column from the Halifax Chronicle Herald and the Moncton Times Transcript AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley describes how the delay in implementing that ruling is hurting consumers and business alike.

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Part Five: St. Anthony, the Town That Roared

When the crab fishery resumes next April, the Northern Peninsula town of St. Anthony plans to impose a tariff on shellfish landed in their harbour and shipped out to other Newfoundland centres. It is the latest in a series of attempts by the province to shield workers from having to compete with the rest of the world on a level playing field. While individual provinces have tried to bar workers and other companies from competing in their internal market, we now have a town attempting to secure work for its citizens by levying a tariff on fish that is shipped out of town. Peter Fenwick, AIMS’ voice on Newfoundland and Labrador, explains in this commentary why, in the end, this protectionist approach impoverishes the entire rural sector of the province and prevents capital formation that could be used to expand the economic base of rural Newfoundland.

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Part Six: We’re headed the wrong way.

The Benefits of Allowing Business Back Into Canadian Health Care

This paper provides a review of the direction of health policy reforms in the rest of the world that indicates that Canadians are not alone in preferring balanced approaches to health policy reform. The consensus that is emerging internationally is primarily concerned with the following: ensuring universal access to a defined package of medically necessary services; maximizing consumer choice; controlling cost pressures on public budgets; and satisfying consumer demands for timely access to high-quality health care services.

There is a wide scope for competition and private sector involvement in the arrangement and provision of health care under this emerging set of public values. Health policy research identifies a number of benefits that would result from private, for-profit provision of medically necessary services and health insurance. These advantages include reduced waiting times and queuing for services, increased consumer choice, rationalized demand for medical services, reduced cost pressures on government budgets, better overall quality of medical care, and the elimination of the conflict of interest which occurs when governments regulate services that they themselves provide.

Medicare, the Medical Brain Drain and Human Resource Shortages in Health Care

This paper demonstrates how the limitations of public spending are making it obvious that a centrally planned medical system is unable to provide the same opportunities and rewards for doctors and nurses as a more market-oriented system. As Canadian medical professionals begin to realize the degree to which the public health care monopoly exploits their services and suppresses their earnings, the more likely it is that they will leave this country for the US.

A much greater role for the private sector in health care delivery is becoming imperative in order to ensure that the medical system will have adequate supplies of highly skilled professionals to provide for the health and well being of Canadians. Only the private sector can provide the new financial and capital resources necessary to compete for human resources in health care, and the injections of cash proposed by the Romanow Report to the public system do nothing to change this reality.

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