When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was himself a doctor, wrote about the adventures of Sherlock Holmes over 100 years ago, the notion that a person could abuse mind altering drugs or frequent opium dens was as common as our young people today taking ecstasy or oxycodone. What Doyle probably could not have envisaged nor condoned would be the government threatening to put doctors in jail for up to a year for prescribing such common pain relief narcotics as codeine or morphine. And yet, as of November of last year, that is precisely what can happen to any doctor or pharmacist in Ontario if they run afoul of the new Ontario Narcotics Safety and Awareness Act. Failure to comply with even the slightest aspect of this act could result in your doctor or pharmacist being fined up to $50,000 or spending a year in jail like a hardened criminal.
This Act was quickly and quietly rammed through the Ontario Legislature with the approval of all parties (the troika) with very little notice in the media. The Act can be found at the following Ontario Government web page: http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do?locale=en&Intranet=&BillID=2395.
Family physician, Dr. Leger of Newmarket wrote the following at doctorsandpatients.ca:
First, the Act gives government-appointed ‘inspectors’ sweeping powers without the need for due legal process: probable cause, court-issued search warrants and an uncompromising protection of civil liberties. With this Act, patient safety, civil rights and privacy rights would all be seriously jeopardized.
Under this law, if an Ontario family doctor, like myself, is in their office treating patients, inspectors could enter, demand files, interrogate me on the spot, and remove the files without leaving a copy. What if the patient whose files they remove is you? What if you have been living with extreme chronic pain and the only tools to manage that pain are prescription narcotics? What if you come in to see me the following day? I will have no file on you. With so many patients, there is a good chance I won’t remember the details of your medical history. In that scenario, you are at risk. I will have no records to guide me in providing for your care.
The Act has already become law on a unanimous vote in the Ontario Legislature. It was introduced by Liberal Minister Deb Matthews and supported on a vote of 69 to 0 by all parties, the Liberals, the New Democrats and the Progressive Conservatives with Tim Hudac himself voting in favour.
Once again the three parties in power, the troika as I like to call them, have banded together to infringe upon our personal rights, endanger our health care and treat all doctors and pharmacists as potential drug pushers.
With this Act every Doctor will now second guess his treatment of his patient. When a patient is in desperate need of pain relief the doctor may think that it may not be worth a possible fine or jail term to prescribe anything listed on the Canadian list of Controlled Substances like codeine or morphine but may instead prescribe an aspirin.
Once again socialized medicine with aid of E-Health is jeopardizing our health.
Next to the recently unveiled statue of Tommy Douglas in Weyburn, Saskatchewan should be a monument to the growing number of people who must now live in pain because the government mistrusts their doctors. Put that monument next to the monument to the thousands who have died waiting for life saving treatment due to health-care rationing in this country.
(Originally air on Just Right Show #190, March 9, 2011. To listen to the show go to http://www.justrightmedia.org.)