Friday, June 20, 2008

Smitherman: the Homer Simpson of Ontario's nuclear program?

Good riddance to George Smitherman, who has left his position as Ontario’s Health Minister in a McGuinty cabinet shuffle made official Jun.20, 2008. Unfortunately for Ontarians, Smitherman will now become the Homer Simpson of Ontario’s new nuclear program. D'oh.

Smitherman cocked up the health portfolio since day one, with his dogmatic and hard-assed partisan utterings and actions. A CFRB commentator yesterday called Smitherman “accomplished” in a weasel word description of this controversial minister – but what exactly did Smitherman ‘accomplish’?

It was under Smitherman’s watch that the McCreith/Holmes constitutional health-care case began, the LHIN's government-apparatus health-firewall was formed, previous health-care coverage was cut by the Liberals, catastrophic drugs were denied to patients, and a new multi-billion dollar health tax was imposed upon Ontarians for the first time. Doctor shortages and wait-times are increasing, people still can’t access doctors. Smitherman conveniently gets shuffled just as the C. dif fiasco, which occurred under his watch and killed several hundred people, is now being seen by the public in its sad, incompetent totality.

An American woman visiting Toronto was shown on CTV yesterday saying ‘it’s great you have free health care here, but at least I know that when I need it, I don’t have to wait’ … of course, though, not only do we have to wait in our government-run monopoly, we have to pay for it whether we want to or not – our system is NOT FREE – the costs are hidden as taxes, and the health portfolio eats up half of the province’s entire budget! Also, we have no idea where the government is spending our money, as Smitherman himself once said. Seeing that we are forced to pay for this sub-standard system which has been run by Smitherman for the last five years, we are also unable to assess whether the government is spending our money in an effective manner. The Ombudsman doesn’t have access to oversee what the government does in the hospital system, and the majority Liberal government doesn’t have to tell us.

Here is hoping the new Liberal health minister, David Caplan, will not continue using bulldog Smitherman’s tact of butting heads as an arrogant Grit political hack. Maybe Caplan will be open to instituting transparency and accountability in his ministry (LHIN’s are not that!). Caplan’s (whose mother Elinor was another arrogant health minister in David Peterson’s government in the 1980's) first action should be to call for the Ombudsman to have oversight into the health system. After all, Caplan did work with the Ombudsman investigating the lottery scandal in his previous ministry.

How can independent scrutiny into Ontario’s hospital and health system harm anything?

It is unacceptable that there is a legal roadblock to the Ombudsman (and by extent, to the tax-paying public and patients) shielding the government-run health monopoly from scrutiny (and accountability).

The cosy arrangement which exists now under the Liberal-run government health-care needs to be examined.

Smitherman once admitted that the government can’t do it all when it came to health-care – then he proceeded to ignore his own revelation and butchered the health-care system into a Liberal bureaucracy-laden mess, where the health of patients became secondary to maintaining the health of the monolithic health-monopoly itself. (See:Liberal Healthcare Duplicity, An Ontario Overview 2003-2007 )

When Ontario patients are forced to leave their own province to get their health-care in the United States, Liberals should have recognized that their dogmatic, government-fiat-run, health-monopoly system was in trouble.

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