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Health Care Symposium in Kelowna, Western Economic Development Summit, in Vernon – will the community benefit? 

Will the community benefit from these events, or will the events bolster the positive and mask the problems.  The positive is, the members of our society that make up the BC and Canadian economy, are members of a democratic governed mixed monetary economic system.  We all agree that we are privileged, if not, then those with experience from an autocratic system, such as the former Soviet Union, will.  

Systems that fail to secure economic production, justice and fair distribution of wealth in the community and subsequently social satisfaction and quality of life, will inevitably result in political instability and failure.  Not to forget, of course, the problems rest in basic economic socio psychology, in other words - our unlimited human ambition, urging us in different ways, while the reality is that the resources and time to realize our aspiration is so limited and has potential for alternative use. Then there is the conscience offending question of how much concern the present should show for the coming generations, and the even more nagging problem of the disparity in the world.  

Wherever we live on earth, social satisfaction, good health, a good ecology and political stability, depends on economic production.  The democratic governed mixed monetary economic system, as Canada’s, has shown to be the system that best can secure economic production and distribute wealth in the community and subsequently secure social satisfaction and political stability. 

Broadly, in a mixed system as Canada’s, it is private sector’s task in pursuit of profit invest in economic production. In Business, that combines resources into product and service the consumer wants and can afford to buy. In that process, distribute real income throughout the community via employment rather than via social and corporate welfare.  Government’s first and fundamental role and accountability to society, is to monitor the allocation and pricing mechanism, and intervene before “diseases” escalate into adversity - that, which hence, is not and will never be the private sectors task. 

Centralized planning and more autocratic systems are more primitive and simple, in that the political establishment decides the allocation of resources and what to produce, not the consumer, and supporters can be rewarded and the opposition oppressed.   A democratic governed mixed monetary and open economic system, as Canada’s, is an extremely complex system.  Missing bits in a chemical formula or faulty codes in a computer program will inevitably cause problems and crashes.

 In a mixed, economic system as Canada, faulty or missing bits in the allocation and pricing mechanism or the allocation of resources (incl., investment liquidity) into products and services, will cause problems and crashes that cause social dissatisfaction. If the system works, the result should be stern opposition where the voters will in good democratic order demand that the political and bureaucratic establishment correct the problems in the allocation and pricing mechanism.  If not corrected, the economy will continue to deteriorate and hence, so will social satisfaction, and ultimately the voter will react and change the politicians that hire and fire the bureaucrats.   

That is what happened in 2001 in BC; fundamental problems in the allocation and pricing mechanism was hampering the investment and the liquidity flow in the economy, causing job losses, declining real income and eroding the tax base, and creating social dissatisfaction.  The voters reacted, and gave the new government the mandate to correct the problem in the allocation and pricing mechanism.  

Previous BC governments failed in their monitoring, intervening, and accountability to society, and failed to correct the problems. Decades of old problems in the forest sector, - the reason for the US countervailing actions the government doesn’t talk about - in agriculture and healthcare are unsolved and allowed to escalate into adversity, causing irreparable harm to society, and even blackmailing society - problems that speak for themselves.  

During good times, the system failed to stimulate investment in research and technology, adding value, and using fewer resources. During bad times, industry expected government assistance and bailouts - also the reason for US countervailing actions.  Interest groups and non-profit corporations lined up to pursue tax transfers, and those who tried to address the problems are out of favour. 

The government simply lacked modern monitoring and intervention methods, and failed to analyze and detect the problems in the industry, including issues in the government’s own policies.  Three levels of government are operating in the same local economy without coordination.  Both industry and government seems to have been unaware of the real depth of the market, financial, organizational and ecological issues facing the industry. 

In health care, an aging population (including doctors and nurses), gains in science, technology, and how we prevent and cure disease, the organizational issues, excessive consumption and ever-rising costs are not happening ‘out of the blue’.  Known for more than ten years, but left unsolved the issues have become acute.  Will the thinking that caused the problems also be the thinking that will solve them?

The same concerns apply to the Community Future CFDC intervention program, commenced in BC during 1986, and Western Economic Diversification intervention in 1987.  The first CFDC program was launched in Prince Rupert, BC, the area in BC that is facing the most severe impact of government failure to meet its monitoring and intervening accountability, and hence, was unaware or failed to recognize the faulty bits in the system.  

Since then, in spite of these and other numerous provincial and federal intervention and tax transfer program, decades of old problems in the forest sector, fishery and healthcare, remain unsolved causing adversity.  It is unclear if the present government recognizes these issues of government monitoring and intervening accountability to society.  Adding to the doubt, is a recent occurrence as the interior Health Region Authority’s recent decision to allocate and transfer a further $9.3 million taxpayer dollars and more to follow, to a US based company for a new Information System.  

The provincial government has the accountability to society for the Health Region Authority’s decision. The concern is for the procurement methods, and how this and similar tax transfers affect BC and jobs and real income in the regional economy, that create good health, and at the very least that the transfer should meet constitutional standards; and reduce disparities in opportunities in BC and the Okanagan. 

What is clear, is that excessive consumption of healthcare and wrong investment decisions in IT and other areas is at the expense of the economic and social factors, jobs and real income that create good health.  Residential homes, tourism, and ski hills are important.  However, BC and the Okanagan is also in desperate need of long-term investment - not branch offices - in other sectors such as forests, and advanced manufacturing that are critical for jobs and real income growth in BC, and involves advanced IT technology, that can also be utilized in healthcare and other sectors.  This is the type of strategic decision-making that is governments task and is particular crucial for BC’s rural communities. 

Ultimately, the concern is governments monitoring and intervening accountability to society, to correct problems in the allocation and pricing mechanism. That includes how the roughly plus $9 billion tax and plus forty percent of the budget consumed in the BC healthcare system is allocated.  How to reduce excessive spending and how spending in the healthcare system for IT and other purposes, can promote long-term investment in BC and the regional economy, thereby improving the factors that create good health. 

BC and Canada has a lot to bolster, we should not forget failures such as the fast ferries, forest sector, Forest Renewal BC, Western Star and healthcare. By masking these issues there will be less to bolster and more disparities in opportunities and hardship. 

Will the Health Care Symposium in Kelowna, Western Economic Development, and the Summit in Vernon bolster the positive and recognize the problems? 


June 26, 2002