Friday 26 June 2009

Uniquely Canadian?

William Watson nicely points out two bits of "only in Canada" nonsense.

Item the first: Swine flu is spreading rapidly in Canada's Indian Reserves. Health Canada bureaucrats were then put in a no-win situation: send alcohol-based hand sanitizer and risk negative media coverage in the inevitable event that some of it is diverted to "inappropriate use" on dry reserves, or don't send it and be equally pilloried for not sending medical supplies.
The scandal is not that bureaucrats behaved like bureaucrats. The scandal is that people in Ottawa are signing off on whether people living thousands of miles away get hand sanitizer. If you go on eBay and look under “Soap Dispensers, Restroom Supplies, and Bathroom Supplies,” you get 183 hits on what look like the dispensers you see these days at every hospital entrance. We’re not talking nuclear isotopes here. There’s no worldwide shortage of sanitary hand sanitizer — if only because the private sector, not bureaucracy, produces it.
Update Colby Cosh weighs in here: apparently, Treaty 5 requires that the government keep intoxicants out of the reserve. But, if there are non-intoxicating hand sanitizers...

Item the second: well, I'll just turn it over to Watson. Recall though that it is illegal for parents simply to pay the doctors in this case: that would violate the sacred principles of the Canada Health Act.
To keep expenses down, Quebec’s Ministry of Health imposes surtaxes on physicians who make more than about $200,000 a year — gross of expenses. What with swine flu and all, it’s been a busy year for pediatricians. Some of those running the Tiny Tots Clinic apparently have already bumped up against their maximum income. As a result, they’re now going to be paid at 25¢ on the dollar for all the services they provide between now and the end of the year. Think of it as a kind of Tax Freedom Day in reverse. Tax Freedom Day is when you’ve earned enough in the year to pay all your taxes and can then start working for yourself. But if you’re a Quebec doctor, it works the other way around: As early as June, depending how hard you worked the first part of the year, you may start working almost entirely for the government.

Trouble is, 25¢ on the dollar doesn’t pay the clinic’s overhead. So the clinic has been restricting its hours while the doctors petition the Minister of Health for permission to be re-classified so they can keep working with full remuneration for the services they’re providing.
True North Strong and something or other.


  1. You hit the nail on the head about the Native dilemma. But you are incorrect about the shortage of sanitizer. I work for a company that produces it and yes it is being manufactured but most of the purchasers are on restrictions and this not only applies for our company but many others also. Regardless of restrictions or not hand sanitizers are available without alcohol and why is that not being sent out if the government is so concerned about misuse. Sadly our government is very narrow minded

  2. I was following Watson's commentary and wasn't aware that there's some rationing of hand sanitizer. Hmm. If a non-alcohol-based substitute is available and isn't itself an intoxicant, then that's a bit more damning for the Health Canada folks.