Danny Williams’, the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, is under fire for his decision to head south for heart surgery. A former lawyer and millionaire businessman, Williams is having an unspecified cardiac surgical procedure at an undisclosed U.S. hospital. The move raised questions about whether he could have the operation in Canada.

Conservative Senator Wilbert Keon, a retired heart surgeon and professor emeritus at the University of Ottawa, said Newfoundland does not have the special pumps and post-op technical support to allow all advanced complicated procedures to be performed there.

Nevertheless, Keon added, “I can't imagine anything that couldn't be done in Canada that is done in America.”

With U.S. healthcare in the heat of debated reform, and Canada’s system often pointed to as an example of what the U.S. should emulate, Williams’ decision has drawn some interesting comments. “Canada: The Land of Health Care So Awesome That Its Politicians Undergo Surgery in the United States,” The American Pundit wrote sarcastically.

“Canada keeps its costs down, in part, by neglecting the expensive business of advanced specialty care knowing that the U.S. is next door to help,” wrote a commenter identified as Matt in a USpoliticsonline forum.

Williams' decision has sparked an outpouring of questions in Canada. Did the premier, known as Danny Millions, have and spurn, the option of having the heart surgery in Canada? If the procedure could be done in Canada, would he have had to wait long for it? Did he fear a public perception of jumping a queue, or simply chose a nicer setting that he could afford? Williams is expected to answer all questions once he recovers.

The Cardiac Care Network of Ontario, which could have been one option for Williams, classifies heart patients for care on three bases:

  • Emergent– where the patient is operated on immediately.
  • Urgent – where the patient may have to wait a few days.
  • Elective – where the patient may have to wait for a while, because there’s no significant risk.

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