I recently decided to put my family’s names on a waiting list to have a family doctor. I had been putting this off since moving to the Laurentians primarily because after talking to anyone and everyone, the odds of actually getting a family doctor seemed less promising than being struck by lightning (in which case I would just go to the emergency room as usual). First I went to a nearby clinic to see if there was a list there. I was not only told that there was no list at this particular clinic, but that in fact there was no such list anywhere in the Laurentians. I was a little skeptical of this woman’s answer, so I continued on to another clinic. At this clinic I was informed that there was in fact a waiting list at the hospital. I went to the hospital and filled out the form. However, I could tell from the variety of questions on the form (have you had a heart attack? a stroke? renal failure? are you dying?) that it would be a long wait for someone like me with no major health problems. At this point in time, I hazarded to ask if by some stroke of unimaginable luck I did get a doctor, would that same doctor be the doctor for my daughter? You know like a family doctor. Alas, I was informed that my daughter needed to fill out her own forms.

I originally come from the United States. I must say that the health care system in Canada is vastly superior to the one in the States for the majority of the population.

It is a great feeling to know that no matter what happens, there is a safety net of health care and it won’t cost me thousands upon thousands of dollars to access it.

Everyone is covered without paying hefty premiums and insurance fees. I understand that we all wind up paying for it through higher taxes, but I must say that for a large portion of the population, including autonomous workers such as myself, it is comforting to know that there is a health care system in place.

Is the existing health care system perfect? No, far from it. Historically, wars provided the backdrop for the beginnings of modern Western medicine. Wars provided abundant patients and the chance to try many different treatment options. From these humble beginnings, the health care system in general became more and more skilled in dealing with urgent care such as strokes, heart attacks, broken bones, gun-shot wounds, and the like. Add to this the use of pharmaceutical drugs and you have what seems to be a well-rounded health-care system. However, I would point out that the role of preventive medicine is not included.

There is a tale in Chinese medicine about a Chinese doctor who goes from town to town practicing medicine. As he passes through each town he treats the people who are sick. How much does he charge these sick patients? Nothing. In fact, he only collects money from the people who are healthy as his role is to keep people from becoming sick. This fable highlights an important difference between the traditional model of Western medicine and preventive medicine.


Do we want to only treat people when they are sick, or do we want to try to keep people as healthy as possible?

My guess is that our health care model was put into place primarily for ease of use, to treat as many people as quickly as possible, and to make money (or at least not lose money). These are all important factors and I reiterate that I am happy there is some sort of system in place.

My question is that if we are the ones paying for our health care system through our taxes, why do we not demand the best services for our money?

My argument for the inclusion of preventive medicine into our health care system would go something like this. Preventive medicine requires will power and work from the general public. This creates better, more independent citizens. Making better lifestyle choices such as exercise, eating well, and managing stress better are all difficult things to do, but as they slowly become part of people’s daily routine, they become normal choices. Imagine if you could choose courses in your favorite sport, yoga, meditation, or a massage, acupuncture, osteopathy, or naturopathy treatment as part of your health care package? You choose what works best for you.

You would think that our current health care system would be looking for these options in order to keep the population healthy and out of the hospital.

This alone could help save the system millions of dollars in unnecessary treatments and keep the doctors free to treat the most urgent cases. The hospital would truly be for urgent health care and not a place to just see a doctor. A doctor for all would be a nice first step in order to help prevent diseases, but other health care options also exist that treat certain disorders much better than Western medicine and should be integrated into our health care system.

Until the system changes, we must take care of ourselves the best we can. We are the ones in charge of our health, and we must learn to make the best choices for ourselves.

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