New and improved health care system

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I want you to go back to 2003.

Late in the year a provincial election campaign was underway after then Premier Ernie Eves (remember him?) pulled the plug and went to the people.

By October of that year, it was evident the people went to Dalton McGuinty and his Liberals. They were saying the right things. I remember one sunny day McGuinty arriving on his bus for a short whistle-stop meeting. Being part of the local media at the time, I followed McGuinty looking for that interview or voice clip that would make me famous. Of course, it didn’t come but I do remember McGuinty saying if he was elected, he would not raise taxes. As a matter of fact, that became a huge platform issue and I suspect one of the reasons he was elected.

If you remember, the Mike Harris era, to some, was the plundering of jobs in order to meet the goals of the Common Sense era. He had two terms to do it. We loved him when he started and we despised him at the end. Ernie Eves was just a temporary fill-in until the inevitable end. The Liberals win. No tax hikes. It was promised.

Then in 2004, the unforgivable happened. Our taxes were raised only it wasn’t called a tax. It was called a “health care premium.” Some services were dropped from provincial coverage and our payments into the health care system were increased. I’m still smarting from that broken promise. You’d think I’d let it go and really it was sort of fading into the background. Until now.

At the time of our non-tax, “health care premium” it was explained that the hike was necessary to help all those hospitals that had cash flow problems. It was going to provide money that would create more family doctors in some way and of course, the biggie of the bunch—it was going to improve our health system overall.

Fast forward to 2010.

Our health care system is in worse shape than it’s ever been.

We don’t have anywhere near the number of doctors we need in this province to say all of us have a family physician and fiscally speaking, hospitals are tanking faster than ever.

In our community, the Cornwall Community Hospital has just made the announcement that it’s closing 15 to 20 beds and 30 jobs will be cut.

To me that doesn’t sound like a health system going in the right direction. We’re spending millions and raising millions of dollars for a new hospital that will be experiencing cutbacks to start.

The news release from the hospital says the jobs will be cut through early retirement (you have to be the right age); voluntary exits (you have to have the right attitude) and attrition (if you’re staying you have to be prepared to do more work for the same money).

How does closing beds, slashing jobs, and watering down services improve our health care?

Take a look around. Our emergency departments are filled with forlorn people waiting to see someone about their malady because they are orphan patients. They don’t have a doctor, they’ve never had a family doctor or their family doctor has retired, leaving them to fend for themselves.

Where are the doctors?

I don’t begrudge any doctor who retires after serving well in a community or any doctor who moves on to improve his or her craft or to go into specializing medicine rather than general practitioner.

But we were told the “health care premium” would create more doctors. Really? Where? When? How?

So people gravitate towards our facilities of healing to wait hours and hours to be seen by a physician who has to start from scratch and learn about a patient in minutes. That to me is not an improvement in health care services.

Don’t even get me started on the millions of dollars wasted on e-health (Was that the improvement in our health system?).

I guess I’m not telling any tales out of school, but we’ve been had big time. I said that in 2004 when the tax came rolling in and I’ll say it now in 2010 as we watch hospitals everywhere cutback to the point of not being able to do the job because our health care premium didn’t improve the system as promised.

We’ve been had.

And it’s not coming to an end.

July 1st, 2010. Harmonized Sales Tax—the day your Liberals become Conservatives and we take the hit.

Don’t get me started.

I’m John Divinski.

Organizations: Cornwall Community Hospital

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