Canadian Fedwatch! News Across the Nation

Health Care From the Feds

You probably heard about it already on the news: the Federal Government has agreed to provide 41 billion new dollars over the next ten years for health care (http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/news.asp?id=260) across the provinces.

In the next six years, 4.5 billion of that will be going into a “Wait Times Reduction” fund and the governments are smart enough to recognize that one of the easiest ways to reduce wait times is to provide more medical professionals. So, according to the plan presented, part of that fund is going to go to “measures to reduce the financial burden on students in specific health education programs”

Of course, it remains to be seen what measures are going to be taken, but I find this as good evidence that at least portions of the government realize that simply being able to take out loans for your education does not solve the problem of education access.

Now if only they’d take off the blinders and realize that this doesn’t apply just to health care education, but to all aspects of education. If we want to supposedly be one of the most innovative countries in the world, it stands to reason that we’ll also need to be one of the most highly educated countries in the world. After all, it can be hard to be innovative if you don’t know what’s happened before.

However, what the provinces were pushing for was more of a national drug care program. The federal government gave a simple no to that one, but in the end, there are some nods to the problems that the high cost of drugs imposes on Canadians as well, and so a group is going to be put together to try and find some ways to address this other than the Federal Government just handing over extra tax-dollars for it.

One of the most promising items on their to-do list, as far as I’m concerned, is that they are planning to “enhance action to influence the prescribing behaviour of health care professionals so that drugs are used only when needed and the right drug is used for the right problem.” Hopefully this means that Canadian doctors will start to move away from the mind-set of a pill for every ill that the pharmaceutical companies would like us to believe.

It certainly can’t hurt.

Maritimes Find Shocking Discovery

The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission has put out a report (http://www.gnb.ca/cnb/news/cmp/2004e0999cm.htm) indicating that university graduates are more likely to come from highly-educated families, and that those from lesser educated families are more likely to have large amounts of student debt.

While your collective gasp dies down, there is one bright point. At least the group was reasonable enough to acknowledge that, just maybe, there could be a connection between less student debt and more attendance. In fact, it noted that those graduates with a higher level of debt were less likely to return for post-graduate studies. This is one connection that I haven’t seen the government acknowledge much. It often makes a big deal about wanting to encourage research, but has done little so far to encourage more people to actually become researchers.

Commission CEO, Mireille Duguay, went so far as to say “should this trend continue, it raises the issue of whether or not government student loan programs are overburdening the very students who can least afford it. … it does raise significant concerns in terms of accessibility to university education.” Can someone give me a hallelujah?

It was pointed out to me recently that, in reality, the government likely already knows this, but doesn’t care because post-secondary students don’t vote. Once you reach the level of professional politics, making groups that don’t vote happy is simply not a good strategy, because you could be concentrating on the problems of those that do vote, and hence stay in longer, and hence be able to do more (or if you’re cynical, rack up a higher pension).

Which means that we must somehow make the government see that accessibility to post-secondary doesn’t just affect post-secondary students, but affects people who vote as well, and does so within a single election term.

Now if the Maritime Higher Education Commission could come up with an answer for that one, I think we’d be cooking.

A native Calgarian, Karl is perpetually nearing the completion of his Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Information Studies. He also works for the Computer Sciences Virtual Helpdesk for Athabasca University and plans to eventually go on to tutor and obtain his Master’s Degree.

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