Hospital waiting lists are much in the news lately. I got a call from the federal government in Ottawa to serve on a committee seeking solutions. As a public-spirited citizen, I felt it was my duty to serve and I was also offered a shockingly outrageous stipend, which will make Judge Gomery blanch when he gets around to reviewing it. Well, you know how it is, judge, duty calls.

The committee was made up of well-connected yuppies anxious to display their bias. The chair was a youngish-looking woman who thought life was a very serious thing.

When a number of committee members complained about having to wait a long time for an MRI, I assured them that I had no trouble getting an MRI promptly. I called up the local diagnostic centre and told them that my dog, Fifi, was in desperate need of an MRI.

They asked if 3:30 a.m. this Monday was suitable? I said that Fifi was a light sleeper and she would find 3:30 a.m. as good a time as any. I planned to turn up alone at the diagnostic centre and tell them that Fifi was angry about being wakened at 3:30 a.m. and refused to come. Would they be willing to let me take Fifi’s place?

They reluctantly agreed and let me get in a lineup of show dogs and exotic cats. I told the committee that the animals resented me horning in on them, but I just sat there barking to the best of my ability. I told the committee that the diagnostic centre insisted on cold cash and told me that dogs and cats don’t have health cards.

Some of the committee members said I was taking up valuable time that was reserved for a pet to have an MRI. I countered by saying that if Fifi welshed out on her appointment at the last momentn I was only taking her place. I could tell that they were not impressed with my argument.

I warned the committee that the next time Fifi needed an MRI in a hurry, I would take her to the U.S., where some diagnostic clinics take Canadian money at par and throw in a dog grooming service.

The committee was shocked at this idea and said that it was unpatriotic of me to do this as it would lead to a two-tier health system. Rich Canadian pet owners would be running across the U.S. border for speedy service and poor Canadian pet owners would have to put up with long waits!

I asked the committee: “Wouldn’t that free a lot of diagnostic centres to give people an opportunity to have an MRI?” But they said: “What? An MRI in the middle of the night?” I replied: “If I can get up in the middle of the night to get Fifi an MRI, surely I should get the same opportunity.”

They said that I didn’t realize MRIs for pets using off-hours time provided hospitals with a sizable income and it saved a lot of taxpayers’ money. I said I thought general hospitals were for human beings and animal hospitals were for animals. They said I was old-fashioned and “dogophobic.” The chair sharply warned me that we were not there to study pet problems, but lengthy hospital waiting lists.

I suggested that if the United States doesn’t have these long waiting lists and spend a fortune advertising for Canadians to come down for a hip replacement, we should send our politicians down to find out how they do it. The chair, annoyed, said the U.S. doesn’t have universal health care. I replied: “If you have to wait 40 weeks in Saskatchewan for a hip replacement, the U.S. system starts to look pretty good to you.”

“We are here to discuss hospital waiting lists,” said the chair, “not foreign medical services.”

“How are we going to solve the problem?” I asked.

Committee members were divided. Some said we need to graduate more surgeons. Some said, “Turn the money tap on until the surgeons are satiated and that will stop some from migrating to the States.”

I suggested we should take busloads of harried Canadian people seeking high-tech operations across to the U.S. and clear up the backlog. Some asked: “Who should pay for them?”

I cried: “The same people who created the waiting list – the federal Liberal government.”