Bill 209, a private member’s bill

“Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds.” . .  Albert Einstein

Bill 209, a private member’s bill promoted by Alberta MLA, Roy Brassard, to provide citizens with a greater degree of choice in health care, passed third reading in the Alberta legislature on April 24, 1996. This bill allows Alberta doctors to perform any alternative therapy, provided that it cannot be proven to do more harm than conventional drugs and surgical treatments.

No conventional medical studies have ever have been able to prove that the commonly used treatments offered by the alternative health care community cause any harm to the public. Although Victor Herbert and the NCAHF (National Council Against Health Fraud) have been on a world wide crusade against complementary medicine for the past two decades, he and his group have never been able to prove any of the allegations against medical alternatives. On the other hand, the side effects, complications and deaths resulting from supposedly “safe and effective” conventional medical and surgical treatments have been very well documented in books like Racketeering in Medicine by Dr. James Carter.

Under Bill 209, chelation therapy, ozone therapy, homeopathy, environmental medical therapies, vitamin, mineral and herb treatments provided by doctors would all be freely accessible to the public. Bill 209 frees doctors from the totalitarian control of the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons (A-COPS). The A-COPS have actively opposed alternative medical services for many decades, prosecuting doctors that dared to offer natural alternatives irrespective of beneficial therapeutic results.

Unlike in Ontario and the majority of provinces across Canada where a doctor can be prosecuted by the COPS for recommending that patients drink filtered, clean water and use air purification devices, doctors in Alberta will not be dealing with such brainless forms of persecution. Much like in Nova Scotia, doctors wishing to practise homeopathy or environmental medicine will not be charged with incompetence just for using natural remedies. There will be no need now for doctors to justify or ask permission from anyone except their patients about using alternative therapies.

Prior to the tabling of Bill 209, public pressure had already forced the A-COPS to draft their own bylaws allowing doctors to practise alternative medicine. With the passage of Bill 209, the A-COPS can be eliminated as obstacles to freedom of choice in health care. Bill 209 effectively bypasses the A-COPS and makes any attempts to control alternative medical practitioners impotent.

According to The Canada Act, any medical service legally available in one province cannot be prohibited in other provinces. This basically means that it’s only a matter of time before someone challenges the oppressive state of affairs in provinces without an Alaska Clause (legislation in states such as New York and Alaska have allowed alternative health care to flourish). With Nova Scotia and Alberta leading the way, laws will surely be passed in other provinces prohibiting the various COPS from attacking alternative doctors, confiscating patient records and sabotaging the medical care of patients who simply choose to walk away from conventional medicine. The COPS were established to protect the public and not to destroy clinics freely chosen by the public. Without evidence of harm, the COPS should abide by the wishes of the public they have been sworn to protect. They are clearly not doing so and politicians like those in Alberta recognize the fact. COPS are increasingly being seen by the public and doctors for what they really are – protectors of the financial interests of the medical monopoly and puppets of the multi-national pharmaceutical firms.

Authority figures in conventional medicine should not be allowed to go against the wishes of the public. It is clearly the case that a large segment of the Canadian population wants complementary medicine. Without easy access to complementary medical services, freedom of choice in health care can never be a reality in Canada or anywhere conventional medical bureaucratic groups have full control over the type of medical care the public receives.