Health Services, Redundancy and the Failure of Queen’s Park
Ask any student at the university and they will be able to recount their experience accessing Health Services. The stories from most students who have visited the office above the bookstore are not rave reviews. As with any student service that falls short of acceptable, students have the impulse to lobby the university.
But in this case, that impulse is misguided.
Unlike meal plans, dental plans, athletic facilities and library services, healthcare is the responsibility of the provincial government. Health Services simply connects students to Ontario physicians who operate out of the office on St. George Street.
The university doesn’t provide a medical service—it simply connects students to a doctor.
But even this intermediary role is a provincial responsibility. In theory, it is the duty of your local MP or their staffers to connect you with a family doctor. Absurd, right? The need for the university to step in here speaks volumes about the province’s failures.
No doubt Health Services does a better job than Han Dong, but it’s only a solution for university students. Any motion to improve Health Services is a motion towards creating a two-tiered system. Collecting a slice of student fees, Health Services offers to connect students with physicians, a service that is more or less inaccessible to Ontarians outside the institution.
It is worth acknowledging that the Trinity-Spadina riding handles a particularly large influx of Ontario students each fall, creating an overwhelming administrative task. On this basis, it seems sensible to offload the students to be managed by the University.
Assistance for students seems particularly necessary considering that many students are only 18 years old and have difficulty navigating campus, much less the public healthcare system.
Regardless, no matter how much this is a student issue, it’s also an Ontario issue—one should not eclipse the other. For every student at the University of Toronto that has a discouraging experience with Health Services, there is another young person who moves to Toronto to work. Without a post-secondary institution behind them, they are without a physician or without tenable recourse.
Health Services is only a bandage covering a troubling lesion in the Ontario healthcare system. While the inefficiencies in Health Services occasionally irritate students, they mostly soothe concerns over the inflammatory failure of the province to connect Ontarians with physicians.
Our student fees should not go towards masking the shortcomings of the government of Ontario. Health Services should be done away with, and students should demand more from their province.
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At the very least, critiques of Health Services should be redirected to Queen’s Park.