The health-care system in Canada provides almost free medication and health services for all tax-paying Canadians. The local government of Alberta has recently reformed its health-care policy to provide free-of-charge health services for all Albertans, regardless of their income or social status. While many other sectors have been effectively privatised, the health-care System is still operated by the government. Having guaranteed health-care from the government has attracted more people to settle down and make their living in Alberta.
People in all countries agree that the health of citizens is a priority, and in Canada, citizens have agreed that subsidising healthcare is a great way of making it more accessible for everyone. Canada is a fully democratic country and politicians, representing ordinary citizens, have agreed that supporting healthcare is a good use of tax money. Canadians not only spend tax money on healthcare; they also pay for other public goods such as playgrounds, public parks, roads and schools. According to a news release on February 9, 2010, the government of Alberta will focus on healthcare as the priority in its 2010 budget. The report says that “despite current fiscal challenges, the Alberta government will increase funding for health, basic education and support for seniors and vulnerable Albertans, while maintaining the lowest taxes in Canada”.
As a result, Albertans won’t have to worry about the high price of healthcare like people do in the United States. Since they needn’t worry about the cost, a growing number of families have family doctors for personal health checks. Many people visit their family doctor regularly or sometimes on a monthly basis. Sopheap Ros, who migrated to Alberta with his parents when he was 3-years-old from a refugee camp on the Thai-Cambodian border, now holds an Alberta Health Card that enables him to visit doctors freely, get blood tests, X-rays and medical consultations. “I am free of frustration regarding health problems. I have regularly visited my family doctor to ensure that I am healthy,” Sopheap Ros said.
Public debate here has revolved around questions about the gains and losses of providing free healthcare to every Albertan. The conclusion has been that universal coverage will benefit the well-being of all people in the workforce, and also improve the job market for nurses, doctors and health workers.
Interestingly, there are many educational institutes that concentrate on health, yet statistics show that there is a lack of nurses and family doctors in Alberta. Therefore, many current operational nurses in the province are from foreign countries such as the Philippines.
Sophan Seng is a Cambodian living in Canada. He is the facilitator of the Khmer-Canadian Buddhist Cultural Center and president of the Khmer Youth Association of Alberta. If you are living abroad and you want to share your experiences with our readers, send your letters to [email protected]