A Tale of Two Provinces
British Columbia and Saskatchewan both have the same problem. As our population grows older, there’s an increasing demand for health care professionals. Both provinces want to have more health care professionals available. Both provinces would also like to have them educated in their province rather than paying sufficiently high salaries to entice health care professionals from other regions.
The two solutions that the provinces have decided to take, however, are radically different and server to highlight the differing political philosophies of the two provincial governments.
In British Columbia, the provincial government is giving three million dollars to health care organizations and universities to create health care work placements, as well as update labs and curriculums to enable more people to graduate with a better understanding of their chosen profession (British Columbia, April 8, 2005). This comes in addition to earlier expenditures almost doubling the number of seats for medical education and creating 2,100 new seats for students to study nursing. Clearly B.C. feels that they have no problem with the root supply of prospective health care professionals. The government’s approach is to address the bottlenecks in becoming a health care professional.
A different political philosophy is evident in Saskatchewan which is once again providing bursaries in exchange for agreements to work within the province. Spending five million dollars on this program in 2005, the Saskatchewan government will be directly funding 500 continuing and new bursaries (Saskatchewan, April 6, 2005). For the Saskatchewan government, it seems that they perceive the problem not as one of a lack of room for students in the system, but rather a lack of interest by students due to the costs involved in obtaining the education.
When we look at the differing political philosophies, we see that British Columbia likes to support organizations, and hopes that they will support the people. In contrast, Saskatchewan prefers to support the people directly, and hopes the organizations will have the ability to take advantage of it.
It will be interesting to see in the coming years which province had the better idea. Personally, I’m rooting for Saskatchewan.
British Columbia. Ministry of Advanced Education and Ministry of Health Services (2005, April 8). News release: Fund to improve access for health-care students. Retrieved on April 12, 2005, from http://www2.news.gov.bc.ca/nrm_news_releases/2005HSER0036-000437.htm#
Saskatchewan. Ministry of Health (2005, April 6). News release: Bursaries for students studying health disciplines. Retrieved on April 12, 2005, from http://www.gov.sk.ca/newsrel/releases/2005/04/06-281.html
Ford Focuses on Fuel Cells
In British Columbia, five Ford Focus Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs) will be on the streets as part of a three-year demonstration project (Canada, March 31, 2005). The difference between these cars and the standard Ford Focus is that these vehicles will be powered by hydrogen-burning fuel cells. This means that the only emissions they will generate are water vapor particles.
Four and a half million dollars were given by the federal government in support of this project, which hopes to prove that hydrogen powered personal vehicles are a viable means of transportation in Canada. This aligns with British Columbia’s desire to have a Hydrogen Highway developed in time for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It’s also a step toward Canada being able to meet its requirements for the Kyoto Agreement. However, once again it’s a step that is primarily driven by the province, and not by the federal government.
We have yet to see any federal plan emerge for meeting Kyoto’s requirements. Hopefully, initiatives like these taken in British Columbia can provide some inspiration for the federal government.
At the very least they’ll make it impossible to claim that nobody could have done better.
Canada. Natural Resources Canada, Ford of Canada, Fuel Cells Canada, and the Province of British Columbia (2005, March 31). News release: First fuel-cell cars in Canada hit B.C. streets. Retrieved on April 12, 2005, from http://www.nrcan-rncan.gc.ca/media/newsreleases/2005/200521_e.htm