COLUMN: Discrimination starts a slippery slide

Last month, Health Minister Mike de Jong floated the idea of charging smokers extra MSP premiums...

By Tricia Leslie

Here we go again.

Let’s target the smokers.

Last month, Health Minister Mike de Jong floated the idea of charging smokers extra MSP premiums – though the idea was quickly opposed by Premier Christy Clark.

But while de Jong goes after smokers, he’s apparently not considering charging obese people, who pose an ever-increasing drain on the health care system – a drain that is fast overtaking the threat smokers pose to health care. Or pot smokers, coke snorters, heroin addicts, meth heads or alcoholics.

What about people who participate in extreme sports?

Some doctors call motorcycle owners ‘organ donors’ … you still ride your motorbike, Mike?

De Jong attempts to use the excuse that smokers should take responsibility for their actions.

He’s right. But what about all of the above? Should they not also take responsibility for their actions?

He suggests smokers should contribute more.

They already do. About $3.70  per pack – in taxes.

And each time those taxes were raised – several times in recent years – the government said those funds would go toward the smokers’ drain on the health care system.

It would be interesting to find out exactly where all those tax dollars go.

Too bad government can’t tax marijuana or cocaine or meth or ecstasy.

What taxes do obese people currently pay toward their expanding pull on health care dollars?

What do heroin addicts currently contribute? Racecar drivers and motocross athletes?

Heck, even our hockey-playing population should probably contribute more, with all the injuries that send players to B.C. emergency rooms every year. Not just the pros, either.

You still play hockey, Mike?

Bottom line is, it’s discrimination.

And likely just another government money grab. Gotta find the money to repay the federal government because de Jong’s Liberals brought in a tax they said they wouldn’t bring in before the election, right? Gotta pay back for something no one wanted in the first place – and they proved that at the polls.

Maybe the Liberals should put out more attack ads saying their opponents are untrustworthy.

Thing is, once you start with the smokers, where does it end?

Perhaps other addicts will be targeted first.

But once one personal choice is attacked, it opens the door to all personal choices being attacked.

No one wants that.

Or things like invasive health checks to ensure whether people are actually smokers or not … or is it just the honour system? If so, effective much?

De Jong would be wise to drop such a discriminatory idea and focus on being safe on the road while he rides his motorcycle, a behaviour many believe is risky and irresponsible.

Of course, donating organs would be a much better way to support the health care system than targeting addictive behaviour.

Tricia Leslie is a freelance journalist and former reporter at the Peace Arch News, a sister newspaper to the Abbotsford News.

 

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