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Part One: Luncheon event – Lessons from Swedish Health Care

Jean Chretien and Roy Romanow are only two of the Canadian political leaders in recent months to laud the Swedish health care reforms of recent years as a possible model for Canada to follow as it grapples with rising costs, waiting lists, labour troubles and other significant challenges.

Come and hear Johan Hjertqvist, one of the architects of reform in Sweden, as he describes the steps Sweden has taken, and is preparing to take, to modernize the ways in which health care is delivered. The approaches being successfully implemented by Sweden include hospital privatization, large-scale contracting out, use of the Internet to inform health care consumers and reduce waiting times, user fees, parallel public and private health care, and more.

This luncheon is hosted by AIMS, The Greater Halifax Partnership, Deloitte & Touche, and Corporate Research Associates. These four are the partners behind a new Speaker Series targeted at opinion leaders in Atlantic Canada. The series will provide a platform for public discussion about our region’s future and how to grow smarter by exploring leading-edge thought in four critical areas: health policy, performance and accountability in our schools, sound management of oil and gas wealth, and the future of this region’s relations with our major trading partners just across the Canada-US border.

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Part Two: Swedish Health Care – Markets and Competition Here to Stay

How to improve health care delivery and manage health care costs are central themes in public policy debate in Canada today. It is not only Canada that faces these challenges, however, and we need not only look to ourselves for solutions. In AIMS’ latest commentary series, we look at Swedish Health Care in Transition. This series is authored by Johan Hjertqvist, a senior advisor to the Greater Stockholm Council on health care reform. Mr. Hjertqvist is also director of “Health in Transition”, a four-year pilot project whose objective is to describe and analyse the operation of a competitive market within the public system.

In this, his first commentary, he explores the debate over private sector provision of health services in Sweden. Hjertqvist highlights the positive  developments in primary care contracting and the continued shift to entrepreneurs over employees in the search for doctors and nurses. Hjertqvist explores the benefits of private-sector market-driven health care delivery for patients and practitioners alike and concludes that market forces are here to stay.

This series of newsletters on Swedish Health Care in Transition is a joint project of AIMS, Atlantic Canada’s public policy think tank, and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (www.fcpp.org).

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Part Three: Fishing For EI; How the Fishing Industry Paralyses Rural Newfoundland.

In his latest commentary piece, Peter Fenwick, former AIMS Director of Communications, argues that Newfoundland needs to replace its “stamps”  fishery – a fishery designed to provide enough work to secure EI for the workers – with a fishery that is sustainable and productive. In order to achieve that, one hundred fish plants would have to close. More to the point, these plants must close at the earliest possible moment in order to give rural Newfoundlanders a chance to rebuild. To allow the closures to happen gradually as plant workers retire (apparently, the current strategy of the Newfoundland government) will simply mean that new endeavours will not have the workforce necessary for development – denying rural Newfoundland the more promising future such new endeavours could provide.

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Part Four: Atlantic Business and AIMS Equalization Studies

In the August/September edition of Atlantic Business, the Honourable John Crosbie, former federal cabinet minister and current AIMS Board member, profiles two recent AIMS studies on equalization. In the first part of a series of articles for upcoming issues, Crosbie argues there can be no question that equalization is a generous program but he looks beyond this generosity to question its effectiveness. Looking at the continuing gaps in provincial fiscal capacity, he concludes equalization has failed in its basic intent. Recognizing this failure, Crosbie says we must now look at ways to fix the problem.

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Part Five: ACOA “ghetto-izes” Atlantic Canada

In a review of ACOA spending in Newfoundland published by The Telegram in St. John’s, AIMS President, Brian Lee Crowley, comments on the lack of a need for small specialized regional agencies to manage federal investment in needed infrastructure. Crowley believes, for example, that Atlantic Canada should receive support for its universities through Industry Canada and Human Resources Development Canada rather than through a special agency that “ghetto-izes” the region.

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Part Six: Bringing Equalization into Focus

In a series of op-ed pieces in papers across the country Ken Boessenkool, Calgary-based author of the AIMS paper “Taking off the Shackles:  Equalization and the Development of Nonrenewable Resources in Atlantic Canada” and Brian Lee Crowley, AIMS President, again enter the national debate on equalization. The two argue that federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Stephane Dion, among others, has chosen the wrong focus in placing the discussion about equalization in the context of special treatment. The issue is a straightforward question of accounting principles – resource royalties are not revenues and should not be included, as they are now, in the determination of a provinces fiscal capacity.

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