We’re in the midst of an election campaign, which means all of the parties are putting out updated versions of their platforms. One of my friends was skimming through them, and pointed out some terrible science in the Green Party’s health care platform. You can find their full platform here.
Full disclosure: I don’t consider myself a supporter of the Canadian Green Party. However, I had always considered their policies well intentioned, if not a bit idealistic. After reading through the health care section of their official platform, I now have serious concerns about some of their policies. I don’t necessarily mean to single out the Green Party (it’s fully possible/likely that the other parties support bad policies in their platforms); but these are some pretty egregious claims. Here are some of the highlights:
Greens understand that health is about more than “health care.” We are in the midst of a cancer epidemic, and no one is willing to speak of it out loud. Hundreds of chemicals used in our everyday life carry risks of increased cancer, infertility, learning disabilities and other intellectual impairment, and damage to the immune system. There are less-toxic substitutes for these products, but industry lobbies to maintain their registration and legal use drown out the voices of concerned health professionals and families concerned about health. (p. 67)
This document published by the Canadian Cancer Society, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and Statistics Canada clearly and unambiguously states that “increases in the number of new cancer cases are due mainly to a growing and aging population” (p. 1), and Figure 4.1 on page 37, “New Cases and Age-Standardized Incidence Rates (ASIR) for All Cancers, Canada, 1981-2010″, clearly shows no rise in rates of cancer over time, when the numbers are standardized for age.
There is no cancer epidemic, and this type of conspiracy-mongering from a major Canadian political party is worrying, to say the least.
After reading the above, I suppose what follows is less of a shock, but it’s still pretty bad. The following points are all part of the Green Party’s health care platform:
Provide funds to expand provincial health insurance to cover proven alternative therapies that are less expensive and invasive such as chiropractic, massage, acupuncture. (p. 68)
We will promote complimentary health care – through support of chiropractic, naturopathic, homeopathic, and other non-western practices. The Green Party of Canada recognizes the value of good health as a fundamental human right, and also the key to the most vibrant, inclusive and sustainable Canadian society possible. (p. 71)
Expand healthcare coverage to include qualified complementary/alternative health professionals such as naturopaths, acupuncturists, homeopaths, licensed massage therapists, chiropractors, and dietitians. (p. 73)
I think it’s pretty obvious how the authors at Skeptic North feel about using naturopathy and homeopathy as part of health care, but if not, a quick search should give you a good idea. (Hint: we’re not the biggest fans.) It’s good to see that the Green Party supports better health care for Canadians, but the route they plan on taking to get there seems less-than-ideal.
Work to reduce the use of pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics and other chemical and pharmaceutical agents in agriculture. (p. 72)
Promote environmentally sustainable, organic farming practices that protect the health of the land, farmers, and consumers. (p. 72)
This seems to be little more than vague fear mongering about modern industrialized farming practices. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t support the idea of “environmentally sustainable” farming that protects the “health of the land, farmers and consumers”, but there’s no consensus that organic farming practices are the best way to achieve that goal. And no evidence I am aware of that pesticides, growth hormones, and antibiotics present any danger to either the sustainability or safety of our food supply.
And, of course, there’s just some weird stuff in here. Listed under “ACHIEVE BETTER HEALTH THROUGH PREVENTION” (p. 69):
Prohibit by law human reproductive cloning and require a Health Canada license for any organization or institution that performs genetic manipulation for commercial or scientific purposes.
Not only does this seemingly come out of nowhere, but I have no idea what this has to do with prevention.
Now, all of this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t vote for the Green Party. This is only a small sample from a 128 page platform document. However, a bad policy is a bad policy, regardless of the politics of the party. The Green Party needs to be called out on making these types of claims in its official platform — especially by those who support them.
The Green Party isn’t alone in their scientifically questionable health care policies. The Conservative platform states:
The Conservative Party supports enhanced freedom for Canadians in their choice of natural health products and complementary treatments, with proper safeguards for public safety. (p. 19)
Though I couldn’t find any mention of any alternative or natural medicine in the Liberal’s health care platform, they are largely responsible for our current natural health product regulations. If you know of any other good examples, feel free to leave them in the comments.