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"It is sublime in its wording but profound in its impact

"It is sublime in its wording but profound in its impact."
-Monte Kwinter, MLA York Centre, Author of Bill 2, Medicine Amendment Act

A great new day is dawning for health care in Ontario with the passing of Bill 2, The Medicine Amendment Act. Physicians are now free to prescribe what is best for their patients. No longer do they have to fear prosecution for doing good. This is revolutionary! People are free to take charge of their own health, guided by informed, caring doctors. This radical change is driven by the effectiveness of alternatives and their considerably lower cost. Bill 2 is the salvation of the health care system.

Mr Kwinter, author of Bill 2 explains that "the Bill has only 68 words and it says: 'A member (of the College of Physicians and Surgeons) shall not be found guilty of professional misconduct or of incompetence under section 51 or 52 of the Health Professions Procedural Code solely on the basis that the member practises a therapy that is non-traditional or that departs from the prevailing medical practice unless there is evidence that proves that the therapy poses a greater risk to a patient's health than the traditional or prevailing practice.

Thanks to this legislation, Ontario's entire health care system is now free to undergo change. Nutraceuticals can now replace pharmaceuticals (except in cases of trauma). This can only result in greatly increased health for Ontarians and enormous savings for the economy. It's interesting to see the legislators' serious interest in having the Ontario government fund alternatives. This makes sense. Health care is not set to cripple entire economies.Economists forecast that "wellness" will become a trillion dollar industry in the United Sates by 2010. The rest of the Western world will no doubt follow the American lead.

Mr Kwinter acknowledged with obvious gratitude that the United States has given leadership to the world regarding complementary medicine:

"The US Congress passed legislation that is going to change the face of health care in that country forever," he announced. He points to the recently established Centre of Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health with its significant funding as "a very significant step forward." He might have added that health care in Ontario will never be the same.

Reasons for Alternatives
In support of the Bill he offered reasons why Ontario and Canada need this type of legislation. For example, he pointed to Europe where St John's wort, a botanical used to treat mild to moderate depression, is outselling Prozac by leaps and bounds.

Angus Reid, a Canadian polling company, found that the majority of Canadians (66 per cent) feel that the government should be advocating the use of alternative medicine and
practices in order to reduce costs to the health care system. Hamilton's McMaster University has proposed a $100 million centre for complementary medicine, amalgamating research into western and eastern treatments while investigating roles that lifestyle and diet play in keeping Canadians healthy (see page 87).

Nearly 50 per cent of Canadians are using some form of alternative therapy. Statistics Canada says that 3.3 million Canadians see non-traditional practitioners and that number is growing.

A letter written by Dr Linda Rapson from the Ontario Society of Physicians for Complementary Medicine noted:

"Your Bill comes at a time when there is even more urgent need to improve the knowledge and experience of the medical profession in the area of non-traditional medicine. The public will be best served by a medical profession that can take a careful objective look at various forms of 'alternative' medicine, to best advise our patients. Our long-range goal should be to critically evaluate complementary therapies in the same way as we are assessing traditional medicine, in order to provide the safest, most cost-effective and beneficial treatments. We are convinced that the sort of protection for Ontario physicians provided by this Bill is urgently needed to ensure that all Ontarians receive safe, beneficial and cost-effective treatment."

The Ontario minister of health wrote "I want to assure you that this government supports freedom of choice for patients. The citizens of Ontario and Canada are far ahead of the government . . . (which ought to) provide doctors with the freedom of choice and, more importantly, patients the freedom of choice to take a hand in the treatment they receive."

It's important that physicians recognize they have a responsibility to respond to their patients. They come into physicians' offices and ask about alternative therapies. Many Ontarians are using alternative therapies, seeking out alternative therapies and using alternative medicine products but are hesitant to speak to their doctors because they believe the physician would disapprove or would not even legally be able to make any recommendations regarding these alternative medicines because they're not within their defined scope of practice now. Bill 2 essentially allows physicians to accept a responsibility to respond to a patient's interest in alternative therapies. The Bill is really just one step towards the regulation of alternative therapies that are increasingly used by Ontarians.
Ontario doctors are unshackled! What a great new day this is!

Reprinted with permission from <talk>.



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