Spending Smarter on Wellness

New Brunswick’s political parties are busy promising costly short-sighted promises, but I’m still waiting a realistic plan to move from the problems of today to the prosperity of tomorrow. The economy needs to be designed into a productive and equitable relationship between investors and average citizens. By the same wisdom, we deserve services that characterize a compassionate government. With a small population and the full powers of provincial jurisdiction, New Brunswick is not poorly suited to re-negotiate public policies along progressive ideals.

New Brunswickers have to decide what we want our economy to emphasize, and my suggestion is wellness. As income inequality narrows, demand for wellness services inevitably rises, as will the workforces of healthcare and para-medical services.

This blog is my call on party leaders to produce a balanced plan to becoming Canada’s kindest province. European models of development have shown decades of economic competitiveness internationally by providing their citizens with generous social services. 

While European social democracy is a reasonable model to strive for, the province must manage the transition in a way that does not detract from our attractiveness as a place to live or invest. In fact, the entanglement of these two factors cannot be underestimated. 

Richard Florida flipped the planning world on its head proving that the creative class’ inherent transience and economic value puts life place-making on equal importance with primary job creation. Anecdotally, planners used to assume people followed jobs, and now the data shows that, in many very important sectors, jobs follow concentrations of talented people.

It is the responsibility of our public managers to make this province a good place to live, so why not try to make us Canada’s best? By focusing on a wellness economy and the quality of life in the province, we reap the benefits of being a superlative place to live and do business.

So let’s start making life cheaper for citizens. Many wellness services are poorly housed in the corporate sphere. I’m not about to make the “make it all free” argument (I’d love to); we’re just at step 1. We need to de-corporatize dentistry, optometry, speech and physical therapies, and pet care services in New Brunswick.

Ask yourself this: if you need glasses to be a healthy Canadian, who has a right to be healthy, why are they so expensive? Profit motive shouldn’t have any place in health services. The provinces’ finances at this point in no way could support socializing these services, but legislators can structurally articulate these services as not-for-profit.

The Province should provide one-time seed money to set up (a) non-profit wellness corporation(s) that serve New Brunswickers at cost, with emphasis on serving low-income citizens. Democratically selected boards of directors would be sought to oversee these services and ensure their long-term sustainability. In addition to services, the Province should make the tactical decision to invest in Crown pharmaceutical manufacturing that would produce generic drugs sold to hospitals and residents at cost.

For a one time investment, New Brunswick could have Canada’s cheapest generic prescriptions, fillings, glasses, and vet bills. Sounds a lot better than what the dudes in the suits are talking about. #Justsayin

**PS: abortion should, be safe, legal, and free. Not your uterus? Not your problem!**

***PPS: piece on creative revenue forthcoming***