International News Desk – At Home: BC may brand itself as healthcare destination – In Foreign News: Germany places strict controls on storing personal data

International News Desk – At Home: BC may brand itself as healthcare destination – In Foreign News: Germany places strict controls on storing personal data

At Home: BC may brand itself as healthcare destination

British Columbia has plenty of wonders to attract tourists, including skiing, wine tours, and whale watching. And if the province’s health minister has his way, BC could be known for a new tourist draw: health care.

As the CBC reports, BC Health Minister Kevin Falcon plans to ?market health-care services to rich, offshore patients similar to the way the province sells higher education to foreign students.?

The idea is still in the discussion phase but Falcon says it deserves a closer look. In theory, the plan would work similar to education services the province offers foreign students. Those students pay more than BC students do, and the extra funds are then used to ?hire more teachers and create more spaces and opportunities? within the province.

?The principle, if it works in post secondary, we ought to look at it in health, and That’s what we are doing,? Falcon told reporters.

Falcon sees the potential to generate revenue for a provincial budget in which ?health costs now account for more than 42 per cent of the total,? but the idea worries some, including opposition health critic Adrian Dix. One of the major concerns is that wealthy foreign patients will receive ?preferential treatment? over BC residents. Dix voiced those concerns to reporters, saying Falcon’s proposal amounts to ?organized queue-jumping, organized two-tier health care.? Falcon countered the claim, saying that he would not support the plan if it meant that British Columbians would be put at a disadvantage in receiving health care.

In Foreign News: Germany places strict controls on storing personal data

Germany’s highest court has ruled that authorities can no longer store data from phone calls and emails, and that sweeping changes are needed to future policies on the issue. In 2008, a law came into effect that ordered ?data on calls made from mobile or fixed-line telephones and e-mail traffic to be kept for six months for possible access by law enforcement agencies.?

However, as Spiegel Online reports, all data stored so far under that law must be immediately deleted. The law was the result of a European Union directive, but there have been concerns since it took effect. In overturning the law, the judges noted that ?the data storage was not secure enough and that it was not sufficiently clear what it would be used for.? The president of the court, Hans-J├╝rgen Papier, said that keeping vast records of private communication, without clear intentions for it, could ?cause a diffusely threatening feeling of being under observation that can diminish an unprejudiced perception of one’s basic rights in many areas.?

The case was filed by a group of nearly 35,000 people, including Germany’s justice minister. The decision, and any future privacy laws, could affect companies such as Microsoft and Google, as the German government has already warned that private sector companies also ?need to be more transparent? about storing people’s personal data.

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