The cake and the eating

In March, Québec Finance Minister Raymond Bachand proposed a $25 deductible for anyone who visits a doctor. The reaction was loud and unambiguous. The CBC reports that 72% of Quebecers oppose the idea, according to a Léger Marketing poll published in Le Devoir.

The poll results also show that 62% expect the federal government to step in and block the proposal from being implemented. What I want to know is why so many people think the federal government will get involved with an issue that is under provincial jurisdiction.

As bewildering as the thought is, that wasn’t the most surprising part of the article. I’m going to quote this next part so you don’t think I’m exaggerating:

In an [sic] seemingly uncharacteristic move, Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe is also demanding the intervention of the federal government.

“There’s 10,000 civil servants in the health department in Ottawa, and they’re not managing a single aspect [of the health care system], not a single one,” Duceppe said. “Those people should be a lot more useful within the Quebec health system.”

In response, I can’t help but address the Bloc Québécois leader, directly.

Mr. Duceppe,

Health-care is a provincial responsibility, as you damned-well know. If you want an additional 10,000 people working in the Québec health-care system, your province will have to hire them. It might be hard for you to imagine, but Health Canada employees already have jobs to do. ‘Being useful’ in the Québec health-care system is not among their many important tasks.

Oh, and what happened with your plan to separate from the rest of Canada? You don’t want us, and you don’t need us, but now you want the federal government to fix your problem and send its staff to work for your province? On your recent cross-Canada sovereignty tour, you said:

The best thing is to have two sovereign countries collaborating in a large economic body, and even political body, just like the countries did in Europe.

I would suggest that you be very careful. If you leave, you leave. Whether it’s the best thing or not, if we discuss an economic collaboration, we may decide that we’re not interested. As for a political collaboration, why would you want such a thing when you’re so intent on getting the hell away from Canada? If you want to make a go of it, quit hedging your bets.

And how are you going to make it as a country if you can’t deal with provincial problems without crying to the federal government for help?

Your pal,

Rick.

Make no mistake, I like the people of Québec just fine. I have a very different feeling about the Bloc Québécois and the hard-core separatists.


Postscript: The $25 deductible is dead. It seems that the public outcry was large enough that the government backed down.

The very same minister who proposed the deductible later said, “It is out of the question to ask people to pay $25 to see a doctor.” One has to wonder why he proposed it if it’s out of the question.

On an amusing tangent, Provincial Health Minister Yves Bolduc effectively schooled reporters on the evasive use of the passive voice by saying, “The health-care deductible that was planned cannot take the form that was expected.” Yeesh!

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