My parents live on the Southshore of Montréal where I grew up. These last few years, since I’ve been pastor of a parish, my ability to get to visit my family at Christmas has been rather limited and rushed. Lately, I’ve made it a point to spend some time with them earlier in December for about 5 days and then again on December 26th for what my mother calls a “jet visit” a couple of days.
This year my father’s health was of concern to all of us during the holidays. He’s been suffering from his usual arthritis and the added bonus of what the specialist thinks is sciatica. It’s not been pleasant and at 82 years, he doesn’t have much patience for this.
Recent x-rays were not conclusive so the doctor recommended a CTScan and an MRI. He was told to call the local hospital to see how long he would have to wait. My mother and I both agreed, that if the wait was too long he should consider one of the province’s private imaging clinics which provided these services for a fee. When my father called the hospital, not only could he not get an appointment, he couldn’t even get through on the phone to make an appointment. With that, the usually frugal consumer had a second look at this private option.
My father soon discovered that his extended health benefits covered up to 75% of fees at private clinics. With that news his decision was rather simple and he made an appointment and within days has his CTScan.
I was very happy for my father. Regardless of what his insurance paid or not my family was prepared to get him whatever he needed to get better. But I am also very much aware that I don’t believe in private health care. And here I am using it! What else am I to do? My family had to make a choice to take advantage of the fact that we could pay for this service. In fact we should not have had to. The services of our health system should be available within a reasonable amount of time. What of the family that does not have the money to pay? What do we do for them?
This is probably one of the most important moral issues we have to face in Canada… the sharing of our resources… and especially our healthcare resources. God willing our Church and especially our Bishops will have the courage to speak up. Much time and effort has been taken up with the tribulations of correct liturgical translations and the miniscule number of same-sex marriages. Meanwhile average Canadians are looking for a prophetic voice to challenge our governments to work on universal and timely healthcare, serious environmental policies, affordable housing, realistic day-care options and the fight against child poverty.