20 November 2004

A right to health care?

Being the father of a special needs child, I can easily sympathize with the parents who fought this case through the courts: "Top court: B.C. doesn't have to fund autism treatment." While I have not followed the case all that closely, I am nevertheless inclined to think that the Supreme Court made the correct decision, as painful as it might be for those involved: "Canada's highest court ruled Friday that it's up to the British Columbia government to decide whether to pay for costly early treatment for children with autism." Clearly some sort of relief must be found for those who can hardly afford the needed $60,000 a year. However, it would have set a dangerous precedent if a court were to order the expenditure of public funds raised through taxation -- a responsibility properly belonging to a representative parliamentary body. It is one thing for a court to decide that the citizen has a right to be free from arbitrary detention; it is quite another for it to rule that she has a right to receive a service irrespective of her fellow citizens' willingness and ability to pay for it.

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