Thursday, December 20, 2007

Liberal Jim Bradley's health-care fear-mongering and bombast: disheartening and predictable

Bill Currie wrote in “Stage set for a two-tier health system: Bradley: Reaction to Harris government's agenda predictably negative”, (St. Catharines Standard, Apr.20, 2001):

“The provincial government's speech from the throne Thursday was short on details but shows clear commitments to creating a privatized, two-tiered health-care system, deregulating the energy market and it demonstrates a mistrust in its public-sector partners, critics say.

St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley warned the throne speech clearly indicates the government wants to impose a privatized health system, despite denials from Premier Mike Harris.

"There's no question in my mind that they're looking for a way to impose a two-tiered health-care system with a good deal of privatization in it as an excuse to save money," Bradley said. "They're laying the groundwork for that because of the continuous emphasis on trying to deal with the problem of health-care costs."

The Liberal MPP also criticized plans to increase accountability among municipalities, hospitals, schools and other agencies funded by the government. He said it's an attempt to deflect criticism of tax cuts that have cost hundreds of millions of dollars in government revenue and will force more program cuts and a "fire sale" of government assets.

"They've trapped themselves with these incessant and foolish tax cuts at a time when the economy can't sustain them," Bradley said. "It's a radical turn to the right once again."
Bradley said Niagara will not see the kind of funds it needs for infrastructure and other expenses.

"I think while Mike Harris cuts taxes at the provincial level, we're going to see both taxes increase at the local level and the individual user fees, but in addition to that we're going to see program cuts," he said…”

In fact, there was no two-tier at allJim Bradley’s Liberals did that themselves in 2004, when they raised health care taxes, AND, concurrently cut previous health care coverage!!
Bradley was simply fear mongering in his above responses.
"Foolish" tax cuts, says Jim!
“Fire sale” says Jim.
“Impose a privatized health system”, fear mongered Jim.
Not true, though.
"The problem of health care costs"? - Bradley's Liberals think they solved that by creating a completely new multi-billion dollar health tax in 2004 !

Because I have rarely seen any truly critical analysis of Liberal MPP Jim Bradley's performance from the relatively fawning local press [a trend of the local Liberal Jim Bradley Asslick Society hence becoming all-too-noticeable...], I found this next editorial quite the departure; the likes of which I don't think the St.Catharines Standard has written since (or will ever dare write again!!). This editorial appeared the next day (Apr.21, 2001) after the article from above, and was headlined: “Grits could be haunted by health-care bombast” (St. Catharines Standard, Apr.21, 2001):

“There are few things more predictable and disheartening in politics than the reactions to pronouncements that our health system is in need of reform.

The idea that reform is needed is a no-brainer. As currently constructed, Canada's health system serves as a black hole for public funds. Making matters worse is that despite the endless injection of money, the general belief is that health-care service is deteriorating across the country.

And so the Harris government's speech from the throne this week stated: "In the absence of fundamental reform, increasing funding is no answer to the national crisis facing the health-care system."

The government called for a "broad" dialogue between the provinces and Ottawa on medical reform and argued there should be no sacred cows.

"Responsible choices and tough decisions are needed not merely to sustain, but quite literally to save, Canada's health-care system."

While the message expressed is rapidly becoming the pillar of mainstream thinking on the subject, it was the reputation of the messenger this week that allowed for suggestions of ulterior motives to be raised and political hay to be made.

St. Catharines Liberal MPP Jim Bradley, in lock-step with his leader Dalton McGuinty, immediately dismissed the province's sincerity in trying to bring some fiscal sanity and improvements to Ontario's health-care system.

"There's no question in my mind that they're looking for a way to impose a two-tiered health-care system with a good deal of privatization in it as an excuse to save money," intoned Bradley.
McGuinty warned the government intends to open the door to U.S.- style health care.

Ah yes, the Holy Trinity of catch-phrases designed to stifle any attempt at real reform -- two-tier, privatization and U.S.- style.

The provincial Liberals need only look to their federal cousins to appreciate the impact of fear-mongering on health care. The feds so successfully accused Stockwell Day in last fall's election of having a secret agenda to privatize our health system it had all Canadian Alliance members looking collectively like a deer caught in the headlights whenever the issue was raised.

The Alliance fell into line on the question of upholding the government monopoly on service delivery, and any hope for serious reform talk disappeared.

Ironically, it's the Liberal party, either federal or provincial, that is most likely to pave the way for a two-tier delivery system in health care.

Call it the Nixon-goes-to-China syndrome. Who but an ardent, long- time communist-hater like U.S. president Richard Nixon could have had the political support to re-establish ties with China in the early 1970s?

Closer to home, which party could be better positioned to preach the virtues of ever-wider free trade than those virulent anti-free traders of the 1980s, the federal Liberals?

Of course, when the health-care delivery system is inevitably reformed to include players other than government, the Liberals won't be using the phrase two-tier. And they'll speak of successful models in Europe.

The phrase U.S.-style will never be mentioned. Political spin doctors will be working overtime to come up with more user-friendly terms.

How disheartening. How predictable.”


'The Liberals' are most likely to pave the way for two-tier delivery!?!
Maybe in a duplicitous fashion (as the federal Liberals did), but certainly not openly.
What the St.Catharines Standard got in 2004 was the repudiation of their 2001 conjecture! The McGuinty Liberals gave us the draconian Commitment to the Future of Medicare act - the opposite of progress! We got a lot more U.S. bashing from the Liberals, including from McGuinty and Bradley.

We got a system where by 2007, the Liberal monopoly is facing a charter challenge on how it mistreats patients by denying them timely medical services. All the wonderful things that could have happened since 2001, didn't. Liberals weren't interested in 'broad dialogue', they were interested in perpetuating a problem, namely monopoly health care, with its inherent shortages; while presenting themselves as the only political party able to fix the eternally-condemned-to-be-broken system. And I'll bet they are hoping the court will rescue them by ruling against them in the McCreith/Holmes charter challenge. That way, they can get out of their hypocritical mess of a health system by saying: look, the court made us allow health care competition!

Whether the St.Catharines Standard then was seriously touting the Alliances' supposed-dalliance with two tier isn't clear... if any party today did promote the dismantling - freeing - of the health system from its monopoly shackles, the press in general would rail against change, for the status-quo.

That's why health care is often called the 'third rail issue' of Canadian politics: touch it the wrong way and you're dead, politically speaking. We all see the system is a hypocritical mess [we saw it in 2001, obviously]; yet no one wants to be the first to admit it... and so it gets bandaged a bit more, and told to come back tomorrow for more repairs, in a circle of temporary patch-jobs that never ends.

Maybe the zeal for real change that the St.Catharines Standard almost showed in 2001 is still there today. It seems though, that even lately, their health care editorials seem to hint for some kind of ill-defined broad changes, yet, propose little besides tinkering within the existing admittedly-broken monopoly (ie, as in their editorial Dec.4, 2007). One thing's for sure - we've now got a lot more evidence that Ontario's much-touted health monopoly is failing than we had then in 2001. So many patients have suffered while Liberals such as Jim Bradley stubbornly defended - and worsened - their single-payer health monopoly.

Disheartening and predictable?? You bet.

Almost seven years later, still nothing's changed.

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