For those not familiar with the funding crisis that has led to these recommendations to cut vital services, we have provided some links to our most popular articles on the subject.
Doctors McNamara, Wagg and Donald, among others, clearly communicated the risks to the community if the proposed cuts are implemented and carefully described the collateral damage that a cut in one area can have in other areas, specifically in relation to human resources – including nurses and physician recruitment and retention.
Another sobering fact is that Ontario spends the least on health care per capita when compared to all other Provinces and Territories. Only Mexico and Chili have fewer beds per capita than Ontario. Now it is easy to throw the Wynne Liberals under the bus for continuing this neglect of the health care system, but if the Liberals are twisting the blade then if you recall, the Conservative party under Mike Harris actually plunged it in to us in the first place. So, blame is not the answer here.
Anger and despair was a resounding theme at last night’s meeting as wave after wave of community members spoke passionately about the need to fix the broken funding formula that has kept legacy debt, to the tune of $10 million dollars, un-serviced, much like a maxed-out credit card at 28% interest that we are only paying minimum monthly payments on… it will never be paid off at that rate.
Anger was directed at the LHIN and the GBGH board, but Dr McNamara clarified that the LHIN is nothing more than a cash register for the Province. The Board, who cannot escape all responsibility for this situation boiling over without much public attention before the auditor’s report was made public, is largely powerless and only re-arrange the funds they are provided. The dollar can be divided into pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters or any combination thereof but remains a dollar.
In breaking news, Wynne was in Barrie this morning announcing funding to help pave part of Bayfield street. Health care funding is not a priority for this government.
The only real solution that seems to be within our grasps it to be the squeaky wheel. Leamington’s hospital was able to secure more funding from the Province after public backlash – setting the example for all to follow. In addition to the squeaks from Midland and the surrounding communities, the First Nations and Metis communities can be a force to be reckoned with. With Justin Trudeau’s renewed commitment to deal more fairly with our country’s first nation peoples, it seems that adding an organized chorus from our First Nations brothers and sisters may bring our squeaks to a full-blown scream.
As an already marginalized group, the increased travel times and barriers to access a full range of health care in or reasonably near their communities puts them at an even further disadvantage and, in the case of OBGYN cuts, risks both mother and baby. Further aggravating are barriers to transportation out of the local community which means that patients won’t have the family support at bedside that the new health care model seems to be pushing for. We lack adequate transportation for patients and families and for many without private transportation or who face financial struggles, it may come down to paying for cab to be with a loved-one or having money for food.
The doctors agree that community engagement in the formation of committees and groups is important but that the real impact will take place by lobbying (through protest or other means) the Provincial government for more money and sustainable funding models – and the admission that centres of excellence are not the solution to rural health care.
Accordingly, the group CareNotCuts.ca is staging a rally at Queens Park on Saturday, April 23, 2016 and have arranged free transportation by bus to the event. The only caveat is that you must RSVP by April 15th to them to reserve seats so they can allocate the buses to the communities. This protest may be the only effective way to show the Province that their cuts to health care are too deep and that as tax payers, we demand better return on our investment – with our funds being used in our communities first and foremost before being allocated to centres of excellence elsewhere.
Over 12,500 signatures have been collected on the petition and our MPP Patrick Brown plans on presenting it to Health Minister Hoskins in the legislature on April 20th. There is another call to action to get community members down to Queen’s Park to fill the gallery for that presentation.
What is obvious to this writer is that the time for action is upon us. Attending a public protest or rally is something foreign to most and many have never participated in anything that could remotely be considered a protest or civil disobedience – but if standing in solidarity on the lawn of Queen’s Park in Toronto is going to bring media attention to this issue and show the Premiere and Health Minister that WE are serious and demand that our health care spending at least catch up with inflation and rate of growth to sustain our vital services, then so be it.
There is an old saying that “Everyone’s responsibility becomes Nobody’s responsibility”. Assuming that others will protest on your behalf is not the solution here. Think about your stake in this issue and decide whether a few hours of one day is a price you can pay to help send a message – loud and clear – to YOUR government that health care is a priority for you, your family and future generations.
You can sign up for your seat on the buses by emailing [email protected] – you must RSVP by April 15, 2016