February 10, 2005 by Allen George
Since arriving in Canada I’ve repeatedly heard provincial and municipal economic woes. Phrases like “brain drain”, “cap-in-hand”, “systemic problems”, “falling behind” seem to be part of a constant refrain. Today, while missing my train I listened to a discussion the CBC morning correspondant held with a former transit official. Particularly of interest was his conjecture that we (people, the bureaucracy, politicians) were extremely reluctant to express, discuss and pursue new ideas. We try instead to ‘fix’ the problem by throwing more money at it. Doctor drain? Pay them more! Health care broken? Pour more into it!
Anyways, I came up with a small list of original/not-so-original ideas concerning some financial problems in Canada. I’m throwing them out for discussion purposes. I don’t think they’ll all work, but I there’s merit in brainstorming. Always.
- We as Canadians have to accept that the health care system as currently implemented is unsustainable. It’s the largest component of any budget and is bleeding money from other areas. Here are a few ideas regarding that:
- Implement per-visit deductible/user fees
- Use the principle of supply and demand wrt. physicians and health care workers. I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that the OMA and other medical lobby groups are doing everything in their power to artificially limit the number of doctors – thus keeping salaries high. Push for more doctors/nurses/whatever to be certified.
- Make it easier for foreign doctors from reputable universities or with extensive experience to practice easily.
- Make getting your medical license conditional on agreeing to work in Canada for a minimum period of time following graduation.
- Have Canadian universities partner with their foreign peers in developing countries (India and China come to mind). allow them to set curriculum, teach joint courses etc. State that the degrees earned by these students will be recognized in Canada if they are willing to work in Canada post-graduation.
- Charge individuals more if they are knowingly engaged in activities that are health risks (smoking, excessive drinking)
- For years I’ve been an advocate of public service. However, I think I’ll break the mould and take an alternate stand. Start outsourcing as many services as possible. Janitorial, administrative, waste management services and more can be performed by private companies.
- Allow cities greater taxing powers. These may include supplementary gas taxes, hospitality taxes, extra sales/vice taxes etc.
- Make provincial grants conditional on municipal growth through higher density instead of sprawl.
- Instead of bringing trained immigrants to service our cities taxis, institute something similar to the US H1B program. Allow trained individuals to immigrate iff. companies here are willing to use their potential. Don’t squander people’s lives!
- Size matters in the global economy. Increase immigration significantly with the aim of boosting population.
- Change the political power structure in Toronto to one in which there’s a group of cabinet members with far-reaching powers headed by the mayor. This gives them force to institute major changes.
- Start taxing heavily polluting vehicles *cough*SUVs*cough*.
- As a student I’m expected to raise a massive hue and cry about Bob Rae’s report. “Oh no! Increased tuition fees!”. Seriously though – it was expected. I think a lot of his analysis is spot on.
- If we want to fund the CBC, why not institute a TV license? The British did that and the BBC is its progeny.
- Implement tolls on the major highways (401 et. al). At the same time reduce the cost of transit passes. Make transit more viable for the suburban commuter.
Think I’m a crackpot? Well…you can always let me know :-)