[While a long way from perfect, here’s why Canadians won’t part with their health care system for all the Insurance Companies in the world — posted in Bob Baldori’s Delusional Framework group — Lew Rosenbaum]
DELUSIONAL FRAMEWORK: Canada has socialized medicine
REALITY: “Canadians are healthier, and live longer, than Americans…
AND have a cheaper, fairer health care system.
And Canada has much more supportive government policy towards labor
And no depression, because the well regulated Canadian banks were not
allowed to bankrupt the country.
Time to buy that condo in Toronto.
From Monday’s Globe and Mail Published on Friday, Dec. 11, 2009 5:55PM
EST Last updated on Monday, Dec. 14, 2009 8:27AM EST
Like many Canadians, the debate over President Barack Obama’s
health-care reforms left me both bemused and annoyed. Bemused that our
neighbours have such difficulty taking even a timid step toward healthy
common sense. But annoyed that Canada’s good name was caught in the
Canadians are healthier, and live longer, than Americans – and we pay
considerably less for the privilege. So it rankles to see private health
lobbyists taking such far-fetched potshots at our cheaper, fairer system.
With a new deal to move a compromise plan through the Senate, it looks
like the end is in sight for this phase of America’s health-care debate.
But keep your guard up, Canada, because we’re about to get collectively
dragged through the U.S. political mud again. This time, the topic is
After fixing health care, Mr. Obama’s next big promise to his social and
union supporters was to right the lopsided U.S. labour relations system.
Collective bargaining is weaker in America than in any other developed
country. Unionization has been battered for decades by sophisticated
(often illegal) employer campaigns, so-called right-to-work laws and a
Labour Board that stood by while unions were creamed. Mr. Obama’s
proposed Employee Free Choice Act would arrest, and perhaps modestly
reverse, this long decline in collective bargaining. New laws would
enhance workers’ shots at forming a union, and their chances of getting
a first contract once they have one.
Free-market economists used to praise America’s rugged labour market as
a “model” of competition and deregulation. But that myth is now dead and
buried: The U.S. is a high-unemployment jurisdiction, despite its
dog-eat-dog inequality. Adjusted for common statistical concepts,
Canada’s unemployment rate is more than two percentage points lower than
America’s – and we created new jobs twice as fast over the past decade.
So having Americans criticize Canada’s labour market makes as much sense
as them denouncing Canadian medicare. But that’s exactly what U.S.
employer lobbyists are gearing up to do. Canada’s labour laws will be
right in the crosshairs as the American debate heats up.
One hired consultant, for example, cited Canadian data to argue that Mr.
Obama’s reforms would increase U.S. unemployment by five million people
in one year. This study’s methodology was bizarre and inconsistent; it
wouldn’t pass muster in an elementary statistics course. But its
findings are repeated ad nauseam by business lobbyists and anti-union
editorialists, pulling out all the stops to keep American unions on the
And like with health care, U.S. lobbyists can always find a dissident
Canadian to endorse their Canada-bashing. Remember Shona Holmes, star of
America’s anti-medicare TV ads? She claimed she was denied timely
treatment for a life-threatening brain tumour, fleeing to the U.S. for
expensive treatment (subsequently billed to Ontario’s health insurance
plan). The key facts were in question – but in the WWF-style brawling
that passes for U.S. policy debate, that hardly mattered.
In the labour law debate, the quislings include the Fraser Institute
(which urges America to “steer clear” of anything that strengthens
unions) and the Bank of Montreal (which dispatched lobbyists to
Washington to warn of the dangers of Canadian-style labour laws). The
Fraser Institute line was predictable. But the Bank of Montreal’s
Canada-bashing was offensive. After all, this corporation raked in
$20-billion profit over the past decade (courtesy of Canadian consumers
and its virtually union-free work force) and, as gravy, received massive
government financial assistance this year. They must have dug deep to
find anything at all negative to say about Canada – but I guess
corporate solidarity trumps national loyalty every time.
To shed some light on the debate, more than 100 Canadian labour market
scholars issued a statement affirming the effectiveness of Canadian
labour relations. They are backed by a new collection of academic
articles (to which I contributed), published by York University’s Centre
for Research on Work and Society, that, in reviewing the experience of
Canada’s labour laws, debunk the notion that unionization has boosted
Canadian unemployment. (In fact, Canadian data show no connection at all
between unionization and unemployment.)
Canada’s already sizable employment advantage over our neighbours will
certainly widen in coming months. Will that slow down the U.S. business
lobby’s denunciations of Canada? Don’t count on it. The facts seldom get
in the way of a good smear campaign.
Jim Stanford is an economist with the Canadian Auto Workers union.