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January 11, 2022

Sask. man visits ER 150 times in one year: premier

What’s in an anecdote? Well, plenty. Just ask Brad Wall.

65898_emergency_roomIndeed, the Saskatchewan premier must’ve known the fire he would spark this week when he casually noted a case of spectacular misuse of Canada’s health care system.

According to Wall, a man in his province once visited the emergency room 150 times in one year.

For those firmly in the “best health care system in the world” camp, this is not the news you want to hear.

Surely, Canada’s health care structure, which is largely universal but, hey, don’t kid yourself, hardly 100 per cent subsidized, is as polarizing as issues come in our humble nation.

*Bing: What isn’t covered by Canada’s universal system?

Overall, we probably agree this is the best way to go. For all its faults, providing health care for those can’t provide it themselves is probably, in the largest, most philosophical, sense, the way to run a society.

But my, many Canadians can’t live with the wait times, both in trying to receive an operation and in the emergency room, where time stands still.

What Wall suggested in his tale this week appears to be a sign of the hypochondriac apocalypse. That is to say, the premier seemed to infer it is because Canadians have such open access to emergency rooms that they frequent them so much. And maybe too much, as some wait times in Canada have recently swelled to the 11 hour mark.

How do you regulate emergency room visits? That’s likely a slippery problem to fix. Deterring ER visits might well scare off people that need to be there, people that may ignore serious maladies that need legitimate, urgent care.

Wall, though, echoes the sentiments of other experts, who suggest Canada should emulate the ER practices of other countries.

“People wait 45 minutes – the emergency rooms are empty – because the triage happens in the waiting room,” the premier tells the CBC. “A team comes out and literally deals with people waiting in the emergency room quickly.” In other words, if someone is legitimately sick or harmed, care for them quick. If they’re not, identify them and get them out of the damn way.

How long have you waited in an emergency room? Does Canada’s health care system need change?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...