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April 2010 Editorials

Quebec budget opens slippery slope of user fees

All who use our (still remarkable) Quebec health care system recognize that primarily because of our aging population, it faces increasing funding challenges.

However, last month’s provincial budget has chosen the wrong set of fiscal remedies by imposing user fees that penalize those least able to pay.

This is the opposite of the spirit of the Canada Health Act – to provide universal care, irrespective of income. Quebec tries to get around that by avoiding charging patients “at point of contact.” Instead, the so-called new “health contribution” will levy $25 for each taxpayer starting in June, $100 next year and $200 in 2012.

This is a regressive tax that will penalize those least able to afford it, the so-called working poor. A low-income family with two children and a combined income of $35,000 will pay $400 in tax, the same as a couple earning $120,000.

More worrisome is the proposal, not yet finalized, of charging $25 per medical visit. This can only penalize those on lower income and people who are living with cancer and chronic diseases.

These measures will dilute the universality of our system and are no substitute for seeking more efficiency and raising funds by taxing those most able to pay.

Erratum: A sentence in last month’s editorial should have read: “They must not attach value judgments to any of these beliefs.”

Witchcraft still a capital crime in Saudi Arabia

A recent item on the Voice of America broadcasting service caught our attention. A Lebanese man condemned to death for witchcraft by a Saudi Arabian court will not be beheaded, as had been expected.

It appears that a frenzy of media coverage, appeals by international human rights groups and intervention by several Lebanese government officials, may have saved the life of Ali Hussain Sibat, a father of five, at least temporarily. His lawyer, May al-Khansa, said she was unsure whether the beheading had been waived or postponed.

This is 2010. We’ve been to the moon. We talk to each other on Skype on the Internet. Organ transplants are commonplace. And Saudi Arabia can murder someone for witchcraft with seeming impunity?

This practice, the complete lack of due process in the courts of that country, and other abuses deserve vigorous condemnation by every government, especially ours, which has growing economic and educational ties with that primitive regime.

Postscript: The last witchcraft trials in the United States were in 1692 and 1693, the inspiration for Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, an allegory about the McCarthy-era witchhunt for and persecution of alleged Communists.

The play will be performed by the Dawson Professional Theatre Department at Dawson College from April 21 to May 1.



At May 7, 2010 at 12:29 PM , Anonymous PHYLLIS CARTER said...

I have been a life-long Liberal supporter, as was my father before me. Nothing would have made me support the separatists - except this.

Health care is a matter of life or death. If I can't afford it, I can't live. Therefore, if I want to survive, I will have to vote for the separatists in the next elections.

If I live, I will have opportunities to play politics in the future.


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