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Health & Fitness Health Care Issues

When Politics Comes Before Patients

Why and How Canadian Medicare is Failing

by (author) Shawn Whatley

Optimum Publishing International
Initial publish date
May 2021
Health Care Issues
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2021
    List Price

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How Successive Governments Have Weakened the Foundation of All Canadian's Social and Economic Security

At some point you will find yourself lying in a hospital bed. There is a good chance that your bed will be a firm, rubber pad held secure between two rails and parked along a corridor in a busy emergency department. Moans of “Nurse!” will echo from the beds ahead of you in line. Those pleas will fall largely on deaf ears. Your hospital is underfunded and understaffed. Welcome to the current reality of Medicare in the 21st century.

Using searing analogies and first-hand accounts, Dr. Whatley makes the argument that the current Medicare system is unsustainable and unless critical choices and changes are made soon, the publicly funded, single-payer system in Canada will implode.

Successive governments, regardless of political stripe, know all too well that Canada's system of health care is one of the defining characteristics of “being a Canadian”, and any changes deemed harmful will have them thrown out of power. Thus, decades of cuts around the margins, centralized control, federal/provincial infighting, and government oversight has left doctors and hospitals with little input on how your health dollars are allocated and spent. Citizens are being left to languish in pain for months, sometimes years, because the current cost and delivery system is programmed for the benefit of governments staying in power. That was not what was intended. Medicare should be about delivering high-quality and timely healthcare value for Canadians.

This is not an easy fix. Treatment starts with a serious look at the disease, and Dr. Whatley pulls no punches. But what sounds like a radical new approach is neither new nor radical. He is not arguing for the end of Medicare per se but is making the case to let medical professionals — those providing the services — become equal partners in its design, implementation and delivery.

About the author

Shawn Whatley, MD, is the past President of the Ontario Medical Association and a physician leader with experience in emergency medicine and primary care. He served as Interim Medical Director and then Physician Leader at Southlake Hospital's Emergency Services Program from 2008 to 2014. There he helped transform an average emergency department that had trouble attracting physicians into one that became the provincial leader other hospitals were encouraged to emulate. Southlake received special recognition from the Ontario Minister of Health in June 2013 for its province leading improvements to wait times. Dr. Whatley contributes articles regularly to "The Medical Post" and serves on the Post's Physician Advisory Committee. Dr. Whatley has served on the board of the Ontario Medical Association, and more recently on the board of the Canadian Medical Association, as well as on numerous hospital and provincial planning committees. He is a Lecturer for the University of Toronto, Department of Family and Community Medicine, and an Assistant Clinical Professor (Adjunct) in McMaster University's department of Family Medicine, Hamilton, Ontario.

Shawn Whatley's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“In Canada, socialized medicine has been exalted to the status of a sacrament, and to criticize it, either in theory or in practice, is tantamount to heresy. Dr. Whatley dares to do both, and with such clarity of argument and abundance of evidence, that no reasonable or fair-minded person could fail to be convinced. What Dr. Whatley has demonstrated, in this beautifully written and engaging volume, is that socialized medicine fails to meet the most fundamental moral obligation of health care: to place the patient’s interests above all else.” — Dr. Harley Price, University of Toronto

“Whatley … insists that our focus should be on the patients, the people the system is supposed to serve but whose interests are too easily sacrificed in the name of some pretty but ineffectual or even destructive bureaucratic theory. I have been thinking about the health care system for thirty years yet I found Whatley’s book packed with new insights and courageous thinking. A cure for what ails us.” — Brian Lee Crowley, Managing Director, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute

“When you are getting a diagnosis from your doctor, you want the truth. If you want a truthful diagnosis about our health care system, you must read this book. With precision, wisdom, and verve, Dr. Shawn Whatley has fearlessly dissected the rot that plagues Canadian socialized medicine. Can you handle the truth?” — Bruce Pardy, Professor of Law, Queen’s University

“For someone like me who operates at the other end of the political spectrum, reading Dr. Shawn Whatley’s latest book and its wholesale bludgeoning of the concept of socialized medicine is an uncomfortable experience… You may not agree with his politics, but Dr. Whatley asks uncomfortable questions that deserve serious answers.” — Pat Rich,(Veteran) Medical writer, editor and social media commentator; former Editor-in-Chief, The Medical Post and Publisher, CMAJ