Romina Maurino wrote in "Ont. health minister defends system as gov't fights criticism by U.S. group", (CP, Jul.30, 2009):
"Ontario's health minister is defending the province's track record as the government fights back in the case of a Hamilton-area woman whose story has become a source of ammunition for critics of U.S. health care reforms.
Responding to criticism that some Canadians are forced to travel south to get medical treatment they can't afford to wait for, Ontario Health Minister David Caplan said Wednesday the province is proud of its publicly funded system and is working to increase access to care and lower wait times.
"We have a system that provides universal coverage - the flaw in the American system is that first they check the size of your wallet, not the size of your need," said Caplan.
"Politics is not something which is really helping patients in Canada or the United States, but it seems like this is the culture in the United States."
His comments come as the Attorney General's office filed a defence against a claim made by Shona Holmes - a Waterdown, Ont., woman who says that if she relied on her government for medical treatment, she'd be dead.
Holmes is featured in a TV ad campaign by Americans For Prosperity Foundation, a conservative U.S. lobby group that opposes government involvement in health care. In the ads, she claims she had to travel to an Arizona clinic for brain surgery in 2005 due to a six-month wait for care in Canada.
"Government health care isn't the answer, and it sure isn't free," Holmes says in the ad.
The video also warns Americans to reject Canadian-style health care, claiming that "many drugs and treatments are not available because governments say patients aren't worth it."
Critics of U.S. President Barack Obama's revamping of the U.S. medical system have claimed he's actually trying to adopt the Canadian system of public health care funding, and say that will lead to expensive, government-run programs that limit patients' choices.
While Caplan declined to comment on the specific case, noting it's before the courts, he said it was "unfortunate" that some senators in the United States have made false and unfair claims about health care in Ontario.
"What this shows is that when you inject politics into health care, people are not well served," Caplan said.
"It really should be based upon what is in the best medical abilities to be able to support, to be able to treat, and to be able to provide for the needs and well-being of patients."
The ad has drawn the ire of many Canadians, who say Holmes is being used to make Americans afraid of any change in their health care system.
One group on the social-networking site Facebook, which is called "Shona Holmes does not speak for me" and boasts more than 800 members, explains that "Canadians love their health care system" and urges Americans "not be intimidated into remaining with the status quo by the words of a woman whose experience and attitude is not shared by 98 per cent of Canadians."
On another group, titled "Let's deport Shona Holmes," members suggest she move to the United States if she believes their system is a better one.
John Carpay, a lawyer and executive director of Canadian Constitution Foundation, which supports the suit by Holmes and fellow plaintiff Lindsay McCreith, said he's saddened by the negative reaction, arguing that "it's not unpatriotic or un-Canadian to point out facts and to fight for change."
"It's disappointing to see self-described patriotic Canadians attacking a woman who has suffered a lot and who is fighting for something better," Carpay said.
"The fact that Canadians are dying on waiting lists and suffering on waiting lists and losing income from not being able to work because they are on medical waiting lists, these are facts which the Supreme Court of Canada (recognized) in 2005."
Carpay argues Ontario has "the worse legislation in Canada" in terms of restrictions preventing people from accessing essential health outside of a government monopoly, and dismisses suggestions that people do have the option to access private health care if they're willing to pay.
"What kind of an option is that - risk going blind, risk dying, or put a second mortgage on your house? That's a pretty awful choice," said Carpay.
"The problem is that it's illegal to purchase private health insurance."
Officials in Attorney General Chris Bentley's office confirmed court documents were filed but declined to comment because the case is before the courts, while Holmes herself is declining requests for interviews.
In the court filing, obtained by the Hamilton Spectator, the government denies that Holmes and McCreith were prevented from accessing timely treatment and denies claims that Ontario's monopoly over health services is unconstitutional.
The defence, filed July 14, is Ontario's first response to a lawsuit launched two years ago by Holmes."
What a joke Caplan's turning out to be. Typical Liberal, spouting typical tired old Liberal status-quo homilies. The old Ted Marmor excuses didn't work as a defense in Quebec's Chaoulli challenge, and, hopefully, will be revealed for the political fraud that they also are in Liberal Ontario.
Many Canadians are forced to obtain their health care in the States, because timely care is not available to them when they require it in Canada.
Local St. Catharines Liberal MPP, health monopolist Jim Bradley - who isn't afraid to inject politics into health care - is afraid to reveal how many patients his Liberals export to the States for treatment.