If I were Prime Minister

By Rob South

Ray Novak’s vision of a Canadian government with less control over health care and the Canada Pension Plan won him $10,000. The University of Calgary masters student is one of 10 finalists in the 2000 As Prime Minister Awards, a contest that challenges students from across the country to develop their
best ideas on how to improve the country.

"It is a neat contest because you write the essay and if you get to the next step it’s all about how you present your ideas," said an at-ease Novak.

Novak is attentive in how he defines his vision for health care, stressing that it is not privatization.

"Every person would have a portion of their taxes put into a savings account," said Novak. "And every person would have the same amount put aside."

Every citizen would then pay for their own health care from this account, with the government providing an insurance policy for those who have "catastrophes" such as heart attacks.

"It puts the incentive back in to the system," said Novak. "As a consumer, the doctor has more incentive to meet your needs."

Novak’s system for improving the Canada Pension Plan would work on much the same premise as his vision for health care. Citizens’ required pension payments would be put into a private bank account with a series of regulations about how the money can be invested.

"You would not be able to buy stock in Bre-X or anything," said Novak. "You would mostly be limited to things such as Treasury bills."

According to Novak, Chile adopted a similar type of program several years ago and it has been quite successful.

"The rate of return [on investment] in Chile is about 10 per cent," said Novak. "Whereas here it is very grim for youth, three to four per cent at best."
Interestingly enough, Novak does not plan to invest his winnings from the contest.

"It neatly covers my Ontario student loan," explained Novak, who did his undergraduate degree at the University of Western Ontario.

The winner of the As Prime Minister Awards will be announced in an Ottawa ceremony on Nov. 8.

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