Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pressing hard, or hardly pressing, for more Niagara long-term care beds

Tiffany Mayer wrote in “Death report seen as lobbying ‘tool’”, (St. Catharines Standard, Dec.1, 2007):

“It's the kind of information that can be used to lobby governments to invest in health care in Niagara.
And that's how the site chief for St. Catharines General Hospital plans to use a report that says the hospital has one of the highest death rates in Canada.
"What I think is important for us to do is ... to try to look at the release of this data generally - not as a specific number to fixate on but as a tool for us to potentially advocate for more resources in the community that will help us both in the hospital and as Niagara to ... optimize care as best we can," Dr. Jeff Cranford said.
On Thursday, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) released standardized mortality ratios in a watershed study of 85 larger acute-care hospitals and 42 health regions throughout Canada (excluding Quebec).
Based on an average of mortality rates, including palliative care, from the past three years, St. Catharines General tied with Scarborough General Hospital as having the third highest death rate. St. Catharines General was 29 points above the national average, established in the study as 100.
Some of the key factors identified by the Niagara Health System that influenced the study results include:
° A regionwide shortage of 90 family physicians and nursing staff.
° The lack of beds available at long-term-care and rehabilitation facilities.
° Outdated infrastructure. Parts of St. Catharines General are more than 100 years old.
° A shortage of hospice and palliative care in the region.
Add to that a population with a high prevalence of chronic heart disease, cancer and kidney disease, and the poor socio-economic status of the region, and the odds are stacked against the General and the Niagara Health System, which as a whole was 22 points above the average national death rate.
"Health care really is a system and the hospital is only one part of that, albeit an important one," Cranford said. "Even the people who created the number acknowledge that - that the other factors in the system play a great role in this."
Fixing all that ails health care in Niagara would inevitably lower the death rate, but better numbers aren't the hospital's main goal, Cranford said. Improving care is the priority, and the two don't necessarily coincide.
A CIHI release said the numbers can be used as one measure of the quality of care. But the ratio is best used as a trend, not a target.
"We don't want to focus on the number. We want to focus on improving the quality of care," Cranford said.
That doesn't mean the hospital or Niagara Health System are waiting for government help. Improvements to care have been made while others are in the works, Cranford said.
The most important, he said, has been ensuring there are physicians at each of the three major NHS hospitals to care for patients who don't have a family doctor.
The other measure is streamlining care in the intensive care unit at the General by having one physician oversee all patients.
Reviews of death charts at all NHS hospitals are also done to determine care deficiencies, Cranford said.
"That review is ongoing, but I'm comfortable in saying we're very comfortable in the level of care and diligence that's been given to patients," he said.
St. Catharines Mayor Brian McMullan echoed Cranford that the CIHI study could help convince elected officials that health care in Niagara needs some TLC - and should have gotten it years ago.
"It does point to the need for a new hospital and we can't afford to wait and probably as a community we should not have had to wait this long," McMullan said. "We need that hospital desperately. We need that now."
City planner Paul Chapman was appointed as an expediter to facilitate building a new hospital in west St. Catharines by 2011.
The city's partnership with McMaster University to establish a clinic here to train medical residents as general practitioners could also help alleviate the family doctor shortage, McMullan said.
But more is needed, he noted.
"People who should be in a long-term-care facility are not there," McMullan said. "They're in a hospital and sadly, in some cases, passing away while they're there. That's not the appropriate place for them to be at that stage of their life, so we're going to continue to press the provincial government hard for additional long-term-care beds here in the city of St. Catharines."
St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley noted the region had the chance to add 200 long-term-care beds in 2001. Local decision-makers at the time felt they weren't needed, Bradley said.
"I think we're seeing now that we need them," he said. "It would be nice to have them there now, but that was the past. We have to look to the future.... Our needs are obviously very great needs."
But, he added, as requests are put forward for more beds and programs, "we'll see them approved."
The province has also increased funding for home care and assisted living, which will help free up beds in hospitals and long-term-care facilities, Bradley said.

How study was conducted.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information released a report this week comparing hospital death rates. Using the hospital standardized mortality ratio, or HSMR, the 2004-2007 report compares death rates at 85 larger acute-care hospitals and 42 health regions in Canada, outside Quebec. Each hospital was rated against the Canadian average, which was assigned an HSMR of 100. A hospital or region with an HSMR greater than 100 has a mortality rate exceeding the national average; less than 100 means an institution's death rate is lower than average. The rating was adjusted for a number of factors, including age and sex of the patient and health status upon admission.”


In the above article, St. Catharines Mayor Brian McMullan says the city will “continue to press the provincial government hard for additional long-term beds here in the city of St. Catharines.”

So then, since Dec.1, 2007, when the above article was written, what has the city of St. Catharines actually done on McMullan’s pledge? Can McMullan provide any letters from the city to Jim Bradley demonstrating that the city truly was ‘pressing hard’ for more long-term beds?

Did the city receive any answers from Jim Bradley, or from the Ministry of Health? How hard did anyone press this issue? Have requests "been put forward for more beds" to Bradley, and has Bradley had "them approved", as intimated in the article?

Apparently, the City of St. Catharines now has millions to wield in expropriating lands for some proposed cultural palace, yet, is this really a priority, considering the health crisis Niagara Region is in? McMullan talked about the the NHS getting more "TLC" - was the recent NHS HIP report, closing and consolidating facilities, "TLC" enough for McMullan?

Shouldn’t McMullan's first priority for these millions of dollars be towards the health care system, in particular, getting those long-term care beds built and funded?

The St. Catharines Standard on July 30, 2008, wrote "OHA ( Ontario Hospital Association) president, Tom Closson's nine-minute video is posted on the health system's website at In it , Closson discusses constraints in funding and human resources facing hospitals across the province, including the NHS."

Funding constraints??

Wasn't funding their health monopoly the responsibility of Jim Bradley's Liberal government?

The Liberals denied that there was any link between their funding model and the problems at the NHS!! And the Liberals have prevented the Ombudsman from investigating the NHS, to ascertain whether the Liberal's claim could be substantiated.

In Hospital death-rate in Liberal Jim Bradley's St. Catharines: third-worst in Canada I wrote:

"The Toronto Star reported Jan.7, 2008, that Smitherman, talking of Brampton , "dismisses bids to link patient care troubles to funding model". Yet in Niagara, exactly a month ago, the St. Catharines Standard (Dec. 7, 2007) reported: "Laurel Ostfield, a spokeswoman for Smitherman, said the spectre of a review of operations at the NHS isn't a direct response to high death rates at St. Catharines General Hospital, which made national headlines last week."

So: 'patient care troubles' are not related to funding - at least in Brampton, and as already predetermined by the person running the system, Smitherman! Are we just supposed to take this Liberal's word that this is true?!

And, what about the 'patient care troubles' in St. Catharines?

There, Smitherman's staff were also denying any link between the CIHI report and the subsequent Liberal NHS 'organizational review' .

You would think that the Liberals would show concern about the high death rates and launch, not a simple organizational review, but a full-fledged inquiry.

But no, in St. Catharines they didn't even acknowledge any link between the 'funding model' , the high death rates, and their so-called review.

The Liberals also ignored that "The NHS has consistently maintained it doesn't receive enough funding from the provincial government to properly care for a population with a large mix of seniors and residents on the lower end of the socio-economic scale. "If a review brings in the results we need to get the funding we need, then we're all for it," [Betty-Lou Souter, chairwoman of the health system's board of trustees] said. "The bottom line is, we need to have more money to carry out the programs we're doing."" (St. Catharines Standard, Dec.7, 2007).

So why doesn't Jim Bradley explain why his Liberals are not sufficiently funding the health monopoly which they cherish so? Where's the money?"

It's been eight months since the death-rate report came out, yet, no one is now mentioning any link between the mortality-rate, the Liberal's (under)funding model, and this drastic July 2008 HIP proposal.

How seriously are Bradley and McMullan really taking this crisis?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Liberal MPP Jim Bradley STILL doesn't answer letters

On May 3, 2008, the St. Catharines Standard wrote in "Fence keeps things from dropping, not people":

"Q: Why does the Burgoyne Bridge have a partial fence along the railings? If it's for suicides, shouldn't it extend the whole bridge?

A: Regional director of transportation Joe Cousins said the fence was never intended to be an anti-jumping device. It's to protect the roadway and other people below, where there may be people in case someone drops or throws something.
The fence only extends across the area where there are likely to be people below, and not across the bush or creek.
An article in the Standard Aug.2, 1980, said the Region first put up a fence at the request of the Ministry of Transportation during highway 406 construction.
"It seems that children were taking great delight in dropping all sorts of objects over the bridge railing and watching them fall on the construction trailers below.""

I sent Jim Bradley a letter (see: Liberal MPP Jim Bradley doesn't answer letters) on Dec.17, 2007, asking why barriers aren't being considered as a standard safety feature on newly constructed QEW bridges. Bradley, now the Transport Minister, has still not bothered to respond.

Then there was a hit and run on Apr.26, 2007 on the Niagara St. bridge over the QEW, where pedestrian Jessica Cormier was killed by a dangerous driver whose car mounted the sidewalk, hitting her and throwing her over the railing onto the road below. Would not a barrier have possibly mitigated her injuries in this circumstance, and saved her at least from the fall?

Liberal Jim Bradley, Ontario's saintly Minister of Stealth, still hides and refuses to answer questions about roads or health.
Below: A flowered memorial to Jessica Cormier, still seen on the east side of the Niagara St. bridge over the QEW. Taken by R. Bobak, on July 30, 2008.
(note: the above bridge deck was rebuilt in the spring/summer of 2011 - the new railings have not been raised. Liberal MPP Jim Bradley has not bothered to comment.)

(Liberal MPP Jim Bradley doesn't answer letters , sent to Jim Bradley Dec.17, 2007:

Here’s an article by Bill Walker, “Jim Bradley, environmentalists' saint”, (Toronto Star, Jan.12, 1986):"Most days, Jim Bradley forgets the lesson learned when he lay motionless in a hospital bed for 19 days, blinded by heavy bandages due to a serious eye injury suffered in a shinny hockey game."It was quite an experience. But I learned afterward that the world went on, that St. Catharines went on and survived without me. I guess I should remember that once in a while."Most of the time, he doesn't.And so, at one o'clock in the morning on many weeknights, Bradley can be found padding down the carpeted hallway of his office in stocking feet, shirttails hanging out, tie wrenched loose, to reach the photocopy machine for the simple task most cabinet ministers would leave to others.To call him a workaholic is an oversimplification. Ontario's environment minister is keen about his job. No detail is too small to merit his attention, no group's opinion not worth listening to, no letter not worth answering.And in a department that has seen 11 ministers in the past 10 years, Bradley hopes the revolving door will be removed from his office. "I want to stay in this job for the rest of my political life," he says enthusiastically. "I love it."The eye injury in 1980, when he was the Liberal Opposition member for St. Catharines, slowed him down. But little else does. This fall, Bradley faced one of the most expensive and sophisticated business lobbies ever mounted but ignored the threats and bullied his way straight ahead.The powerful lobby tried to stop the Liberals' proclamation of the spills bill, which saddled owners of dangerous substances with absolute liability for damages caused by spills in Ontario.Lined up against the new Liberal government was the Canadian Manufacturers Association, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Insurance Bureau of Canada, huge chemical companies Polysar Ltd., Dow Chemical Canada Inc., and many others."A lot of misinformation was spread, a lot of worst-case scenarios were spread. They used a lot of scare tactics," Bradley says.But after a month of public hearings, the bill became law on Nov. 29.One pro-environment lobby group, the Canadian Environmental Law Association, gave Bradley its first "Hanging Tough Award" because of the spills bill. It's a poster-sized tribute filled with newspaper clippings of the fight and it's been hung proudly on his office wall."The premier did not back down, and I will say this on so many occasions, the reason there is any success in this ministry, is that we've been able to be innovative and somewhat aggressive on environmental issues because of the support of Premier (David) Peterson," says Bradley."Without that support, we would not be able to be either innovative or aggressive on environmental matters." Bradley has been greeted almost as a saint by environmentalists because of the spills bill, his tough policy on acid rain emissions controls, the St. Clair River cleanup and action on other issues. But his gung-ho attitude has met with some opposition in the Liberal cabinet, where every minister must jockey for position and push for the programs ministry staff have developed. Many felt Bradley was going too far, too fast. Some cabinet ministers were swayed by the lobby groups denouncing Bradley - each minister was contacted in the exhaustive effort to stop him - and disagreements erupted, particularly on the acid rain question."The acid rain program was a challenging one," Bradley told The Star in an interview in his office, while an aide sat by and made a subtle slashing motion across his throat as if to say to the boss: "Keep quiet on this one.""In this case there were questions asked and concerns expressed," Bradley says."I pointed out the consequences of this program, the potential for adverse effects and positive effects. Cabinet made a decision on that basis and I was extremely pleased."The decision had been delayed after a stormy cabinet meeting when Bradley had first hoped for approval for the acid rain plan. A week later at the Dec. 11 cabinet meeting a beaming Bradley emerged, intoxicated by victory.He triumphantly announced the new acid rain plan in a press conference that was beamed live via satellite to Washington, to be watched by Canada's acid rain adversaries.Acid rain and the spills bill have been giant victories for the 40-year-old bachelor from the Garden City. A former school teacher, he was raised in Sudbury, but at age 11 his father, a machinist, was laid off. The family of seven moved to St. Catharines because southern Ontario offered more jobs.His working class family does not have any political background. "We were not a wealthy family, but some people don't know when they're poor."He grew up beside the ravages of pollution a few kilometres from the smelters in Sudbury, where vegetation did not grow and the rocky landscape looked like the moon. Broken men were often forced out of their smelter jobs by painful asthma from breathing sulphur dioxide emissions."The big event was watching the slag dump at night. That was really something then," he recalls. "We had some good rock fights too and I miss that . . . except in the Legislature, I should say."He was bitten by the political bug in Grade 5, when elected president of the Junior Red Cross at King George School, now a Sudbury radio station. By age 21, he had won the provincial Liberal nomination in St. Catharines, but he lost the 1967 election.Two years later, he ran successfully for St. Catharines city council. He served there during heated debates over development in the city before running provincially again in 1971. Again he lost.He finally came to Queen's Park in 1977. By the time his party was preparing for last May's fateful election, Bradley had been a frontbencher in the Opposition, a deputy House Leader, and held critic roles in correctional services, consumer and commercial relations and education."There were some bleak days in Opposition," he recalls. "But there was always a hope that I felt people would want change. That hope was there."As soon as it became apparent the Liberals would form a government after almost 42 years of Progressive Conservative rule, Bradley immediately knew he wanted to be environment minister. He had hoped for a cabinet post because of his work in eight years in opposition and would have accepted anything, but the environment job was his true desire.Now he has a chauffer-driven limousine and a posh office overlooking the Toronto skyline from the penthouse 15th floor of a building at St. Clair and Avenue Rd. The office has a personal bathroom and shower so Bradley's marathon work sessions can end with a refresher.His goals in the ministry were simple: to make it a proactive and not reactive ministry which didn't wait for events to occur but acted to prevent them altogether."We had a lot of catching up to do," he says.He began last summer by scheduling a series of theme weeks, where he met with interest groups on all sides of issues. He has surrounded himself with good people, including former environmental activists Mark Rudolph and Gary Gallon, his executive assistant and senior policy adviser respectively.In the environmental community, Bradley has drawn widespread praise.As for Tory environment critic Susan Fish, who is paid to make Bradley look bad, when asked about Bradley's performance by The Star she said: "I'd really not care to comment."New Democratic Party environment critic Ruth Grier, whose party wrote some of Bradley's policy moves in an agreement to support the Liberals as government, gave him a qualified endorsement."I certainly think he has displayed good intentions," Grier said, "but I'm not sure I'm ready to give him an A all the way through."Both Grier and Canadian Environmental Law Association spokesman Toby Vigod say Bradley's policy decision on soft drink dispensers, mainly pop cans, was disappointing.Vigod wanted deposits so cans would be returned and not thrown away as litter, but the government nixed the idea, instead calling for a certain number of cans to be recyclable."A simpler solution could have been put in place but the soft drink lobby didn't want it," Vigod says.Grier feels Bradley tried to get the optimum solution environmentally, but lost his battle in cabinet. "There was evidence that stronger people in cabinet than he prevailed," she says.The harshest Bradley critics, those in industry who will bear the brunt of his new policies, shied away from rating him in print. Robert J. Redhead of the chemical company Tricil (Sarnia) Ltd., told The Star that since his company will have future dealings with the ministry, it had chosen not to comment.Harry Pelissero, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, said his organization will issue a policy paper when the next election is called asking its members in the farming community not to vote Liberal unless the absolute liability clause in the spills bill is changed to limited liability on owners of spilled substances.Pelissero said the public hearings were somewhat of a charade. "The government made its intentions known about what it was going to do with the spills bill," he said. "We made our views known and right now, we're still opposed.""We'll make some enemies in the short term," Bradley says, "but I don't see the dire political consequences in that. I think we've shown our fairness and now at least, they know where the government stands."Vigod said that although Bradley marks a night-and-day difference from past Tory environment ministers in terms of accessibility and action, he has fallen short on several issues including pop cans, the Keswick marsh and hazardous waste disposal.For Adele Hurley of the Canadian Coaltion on Acid Rain, Bradley "is the first environment minister in this province who has deserved the title."He's doing a great job. He's quickly learning how to manage his own portfolio and how to move in the circles which are bilateral and national in scope."On the other hand, you're quite permitted to argue with him or to debate. He has a humility about him that makes that possible. He's very unassuming."When he's not tallying his political friends and foes, Bradley likes to retreat to St. Catharines on the weekend, take in a Friday night junior hockey game and have a few beers with his local friends, some of whom are newspaper reporters in the area.And on Sundays, he loves to spread out his ministry homework on a table in front of the television set and alternate between career duties and National Football League coverage.But most of the time, including many weekends, he's tackling his work as minister. And he is humble enough to realize that his progress in a short time as minister is partly due to public attitudes toward the environment.Recently, political pollsters have been telling parties the public has a high level of concern for environmental issues and is supportive of money spent in the area. They have even suggested that such action could translate into votes at election time."
It must be tough for Liberal MPP Jim Bradley being a wealthy saint for the environmentalists - with the limos and posh offices - as well as being an unassuming politico, pretending that no letter isn't worth answering . Jim Bradley didn't answer a number of letters which I sent to him. How many other letters, messages, or emails, does Jim Bradley pick and choose NOT to reply to?

Did Bradley read this letter to the editor from St. Catharines'  Dr. George Fitzpatrick? (St.Catharines Standard, Mar.7, 2005):

"I noticed your series of articles on health care and this government's treatment of Ontario doctors in the health system. As a delegate to the section of family practice of the Ontario Medical Association, I would like to share some of my frustrations with the members of the public.
- The Ontario government is making it harder for physicians and their patients. It refuses to negotiate a fair deal with doctors. Despite the fact that one million patients in Ontario are without family doctors, the government refuses to address the concerns raised by Ontario physicians. Picking fights with our doctors, and remunerating them less than those doctors in six other provinces is not the way to recruit physicians to Ontario. Why doesn't the province stop playing politics with patients and their health?
- One in three specialists will be older than 55 in the next five years.
- Waiting times for referrals, operations and diagnostic tests, such as MRIs and CAT scans can take up to six months in this community.
- Doctors who are working harder and harder cannot solve these problems. Only a reasonable government that co-operates with health professionals can.
- A government that tries to dictate "take-it-or-leave-it" deals will not solve the problem of wait times and shortages.
- We want to work constructively with the government, patients and other health professionals to solve these problems.
- Our health system is under-funded. In 1992, Ontario had the highest per-capita spending on health care in the country. Now we rank seventh. I ask St. Catharines Liberal MPP Jim Bradley to intervene on behalf of families in the St. Catharines riding to tell Dalton McGuinty and George Smitherman to co-operate with the professionals who make our health system work."
Did Jim Bradley ever bother to respond to the above letter?
This is a letter I wrote to Jim Bradley, Mar.30, 2006: On Mar.13, 2006 the Standard’s Marlene Bergsma reported on city/provincial cost-sharing for the planned QEW widening. Millions will be spent to overhaul or to completely replace six QEW overpasses in St. Catharines.On Mar. 29, 2006 in your Niagara News column you wrote: “One of the major (budget) announcements was the unveiling of Move-Ontario, a major new province-wide investment in transit, roads, and bridges.”I ask that you consider that now is an opportune time to ensure that funding is available so that the proposed QEW bridges are designed with safety barriers to discourage vandalism and suicides. Looking at the Burgoyne bridge over the 406, you’ll see that someone, sometime ago in the city thought it prudent to install at least a partial section of safety barrier – yet it wasn’t it finished. The Standard reported that a suicide occurred there on Mar. 2, 2006.
Over the years there have been several local reports - from Grimsby to Niagara Falls - of persons throwing objects, or themselves, onto the roads below. The Standard reported Jan.21, 2002 of a truck on the QEW skidding out of control after being hit by an object thrown from the Niagara St. overpass. On Mar.15, 1999 Marlene Bergsma reported vandals at the Lake St. overpass hit a car below with ice. Niagara Regional Police Sgt. Terry Reese commented that the passengers “were lucky they weren’t killed.” On Feb. 22, 2006 at the Lake St. bridge, a teenager threw herself onto the QEW lanes below.I forwarded my suggestion regarding installation of overpass barriers to the city, which at its regular Mar. 20, 2006 meeting “directed that no further action be taken.”Why? Millions were already allocated on QEW bridge reconstruction prior to your third budget announcement – now with Move-Ontario, there are apparently millions more for Niagara infrastructure.Why not insist that barriers become an inherent bridge design element? Is it that barriers ‘don’t look nice’? Well, neither does a blood-splattered road. Is the cost itself the barrier? What is the incremental cost today to prevent tomorrow’s tragedies, injuries, possible deaths and subsequent negligence lawsuits? It’s not as if the City or the Province are unaware of the dangers – but what have they done to mitigate them? Is public safety this low of a concern?
I look forward to your response.
Here’s a letter I wrote, published in the St. Catharines Standard, Apr.5, 2006, “Highway overpasses should have barriers for public safety”:
“Re: City plans 50% hike in works spending, The Standard, March 13.
Millions will be spent to overhaul or to completely replace six QEW overpasses in St. Catharines.
Now is an opportune time for the city to insist that these new bridges are designed with safety barriers to discourage vandalism and suicides. Looking at the Burgoyne Bridge over Highway 406, you'll see that someone, some time ago, thought it would be prudent to install at least a partial section of a barrier. The Standard reported that a suicide occurred there on March 2 of this year. There have been several local reports over the years of persons throwing objects, or themselves, onto the roads below. The Standard reported on Jan. 21, 2002, about a truck on the QEW skidding out of control after being hit by an object thrown from the Niagara Street overpass. On March 15, 1999, it was reported vandals at the Lake Street overpass hit a car below with ice. Niagara Regional Police Sergeant Terry Reese commented that the passengers were lucky they weren't killed. On Feb. 22 of this year, a teenager threw herself onto the QEW lanes below the Lake Street overpass as well. I forwarded my suggestion regarding installation of barriers on city overpasses to the city, which at its meeting on March 20 directed that no further action be taken. Why? Millions are being proposed on bridge reconstruction -- why not insist that barriers become an inherent part of their design? Is cost itself the barrier? What is the incremental cost today to prevent tomorrow's tragedies, injuries, possible deaths and subsequent negligence lawsuits? It's not as if the city or the province are unaware of the dangers, but what have they done to mitigate them? Is public safety this low of a concern?”
No answer from Jim Bradley.
I sent another letter to these people, Apr.21, 2006: (only answer came from a spokesman for Takhar. Nothing from Bradley, Rigby, Partington) Mr. Tim Rigby, Mayor of City of St. Catharines Mr. Peter Partington, Chair, Region of Niagara Mr. Harinder Takhar, Minister of Transportation Mr. Jim Bradley, Minister of Tourism
Dear Sirs, Re: the Apr. 11, 2006 traffic fatality of Emily Phillips at the Niagara St. QEW on-ramp, St. Catharines, Ont.
In the Apr. 13, 2006 St. Catharines Standard story, “Changes urged at deadly on-ramp” the Mayor of St. Catharines [Rigby] was quoted saying that both the city and Niagara Region “have been asking MTO to make changes to that ramp. It certainly has been suggested it not remain open.”

Can Mr. Rigby produce any specific past documents which clearly verify that the City of St. Catharines or Niagara Region did suggest, or request, or recommend to the MTO that the Niagara St. on-ramp be closed? And if so, what was the MTO’s response to the city, or to the Region?
Mr. Rigby said that the city can’t close the ramp because the province has jurisdiction over the roads that lead to it: so, did the City of St. Catharines, or Niagara Region, ever directly contact local MPP Jim Bradley (who presumably has jurisdiction over provincial roads) with a specific request to close the Niagara St. on-ramp?

On Apr. 19, 2006 Bradley suddenly urged the MTO to close the ramp.
But prior to that, did Bradley ever directly respond to any city or regional request regarding closing that ramp?
Did Jim Bradley ever receive any requests from the city or Niagara Region regarding closure of that ramp?
Did Bradley ever receive any request from the public, or from his constituents, about the safety of this ramp or its possible closure? After almost three decades as the local MPP, did Bradley just now discover the dangerous, now deadly, nature of this ramp?

I raise these concerns because MTO spokesman Will MacKenzie was quoted saying that the MTO has never had a request to close the ramp and has no intention of doing so!! There seems to be a glaring discrepancy here.
Whose version of events are citizens to believe?
Either the City did contact the MTO, or they didn’t.

But even if the City or Region didn’t (and we should then ask why), are we to believe that the MTO was therefore unaware of this ramp’s danger? There certainly seems to be a level of complicity and a degree of negligence to be attributed to the levels of government which have knowingly tolerated this inadequate ramp and done nothing to mitigate its danger to motorists. The police have laid no charges in this fatality, so who is culpable here? It’s truly unacceptable that after this fatality, the MTO spokesman still declares the MTO has no intention to close the ramp. How many more car crashes, personal injuries, or deaths, is Transportation minister Harinder Takhar willing to tolerate? As Tourism minister, what has Jim Bradley done to warn or protect unsuspecting tourists - let alone his own constituents - of this deadly QEW merge?
I am adding my voice to the list who are calling for this ramp’s immediate closure and re-engineering. Can’t Move Ontario funding be utilized here?
I look forward to your individual response to any of the questions raised in this letter.
Thank you.
Cc: Greg Washuta, Councillor, St. Catharines
I wrote in Pulse Niagara, Apr.20, 2006:
"The notorious Toronto–bound QEW on–ramp at Niagara St. was the scene of a fatality on Apr. 11, 2006. Most Niagarans know the white–knuckle feeling you get when you’re squeezed on that ramp. Pray for the motorists visiting our city who are unfamiliar with it. People have said that ramp should have been closed years ago. St. Catharines mayor Tim Rigby said that the city and the regional government “have been asking MTO to make changes to that ramp. It certainly has been suggested it not remain open.”
MTO spokesman Will MacKenzie responded that the MTO has never had a request to close that ramp and has no intention of doing so. (St. Catharines Standard, Apr. 13, 2006)
Who’s version of the truth are citizens supposed to believe here?
Can the City of St. Catharines or Niagara Region produce documentation to rebuke MacKenzie’s claim; to show that in fact, the MTO had been previously notified to consider closing/improving this ramp?
If so, that would indicate that the MTO has been taking calculated risks with public safety at that ramp, which have not only resulted in previous injuries, but now in death.
The one influential politician most conspicuous by his silence on this issue is MPP Jim Bradley, who’s supposed to represent the citizens of St. Catharines at Queen’s Park. During the almost 30 years in which Bradley has sat in office, what has he done about this killer ramp? Did he not know how dangerous it was?
Prior to approaching the Niagara St. on–ramp, motorists on the QEW are faced with a huge blue advertising sign. But the sole warning for the upcoming merge is a small yellow sign. Considering the known inadequacy of the upcoming ramp, is this little sign the best they could do? That this situation has been tolerated for so long by finger–pointing politicians and bureaucrats is unacceptable."
Did Jim Bradley respond to these letters:
Suzie Sheehan wrote in “Speak up to avoid another tragic accident”, St. Catharines Standard, May 28, 2007:
"Re: Address the Glendale/406 interchange before someone is hurt, The Standard, May 14.Wow! Was I thrilled to read this letter. I, too, was very close to becoming a fatality with my three young children.I spent the morning at the Pen and was on my way home to make lunch when the lady in front of me was "spooked" by the transport approaching in the right lane.Instead of entering the highway, she stopped! I was already building speed to follow her onto the highway when I realized she stopped. I made a split second decision to speed up and enter the highway because I would have hit her car - and more than likely killed her.Needless to say, I closed my eyes, said a prayer and entered the highway - pedal to the metal!I thought my children and I were dead because I thought we were going to be crushed by the transport truck.As it turned out, the transport blared his horn and moved into the passing lane. I was a basket case and will never forget this. Maybe if more residents voice their concern, another death will be avoided. Let's not have a repeat of the Niagara Street tragedy.”
Phil Baranoski wrote in “Glendale ramps pose Hwy. 406 safety hazard”, Welland Tribune, May 10, 2006:
"For years I have been complaining to the Ministry of Transport about the unsafe engineering design of the Niagara Street ramp to the Toronto-bound QEW since it was built.
Unfortunately, it has been a year now that a girl's life was taken tragically on this ill-designed ramp. On Feb. 11, 1994 I contacted the MTO about the dangerous conditions created when the sound-barrier walls were installed on the Glendale Avenue northbound Hwy. 406 on-ramp at the Pen Centre location. To date the problem still exists and is more dangerous with the increase in traffic volume. The problem is the northbound on-ramp is too short. It doesn't provide motorists space to accelerate and merge safely on to the highway without hitting a sound barrier wall. Also, there is a lack of visibility for the on-ramp motorists viewing the high volume of speeding traffic coming down the hill because of another secondary high sound-barrier wall located on the overpass bridge. It blocks the driver's sight-line vision of the on coming traffic. This problem is compounded for Hwy. 406 motorists travelling northbound down the escarpment at a high rate speed. There is the force of gravity as they come down and are squeezed from four lanes of traffic down to two, unaware the northbound Glendale Avenue on-ramp traffic is hidden because of the high unnecessary sound-barrier wall that interferes with their sightline. A lot of Hwy. 406 motorists get a surprise when they suddenly see northbound on-ramp traffic merging into their lane and cannot pull over into the left lane because it is blocked by other traffic. Because the ramp is too short for merging it gives the Hwy. 406 northbound motorist two choices. The highway driver must brake to let the on-ramp traffic onto the highway with the possibility of being rear-ended or speed up hoping the on-ramp driver slows down and enters from behind. The on-ramp drivers also face a quick decision, to either speed up to merge and get in front of the hidden motorists coming down the hill on Hwy. 406 just in time, praying not to misjudge and hit the sound-barrier wall or slow down hoping to not get rammed by the driver from behind. There are solutions.First, immediately take down the inner northbound sound-barrier wall located on the Glendale Avenue overpass bridge, adjacent to the ramp. It serves no purpose in a commercial area. It is a safety hazard creating blind spots for motorists travelling north on the highway and for the motorists merging onto the Highway 406. Second, the Glendale on-ramp needs to be re-extended like the Niagara Street-QEW ramp to allow enough distance for the northbound motorist to safely merge onto northbound Hwy. 406. The Ministry of Transport needs to be proactive and act to rectify this traffic hazard as quickly as possible. We do not need a tragic death at this on-ramp location because of poor road design, installation of a useless dangerous sound barrier in a commercial area and the lack of common sense safety engineering.”
Dear Mr. Bradley: Has the Ministry of Transportation studied installing safety barriers on ministry bridges? In the last 30 years, prior to April 2006, has the Ministry of Transport ever been contacted by the local St. Catharines MPP, Jim Bradley, or by the local city or regional government, to improve or close the Niagara St. on-ramp? Will the Ministry be acting to rectify the Glendale/406 ramp hazard?

Stealth Minister Jim Bradley still hiding from health care scrutiny

Here's a letter sent to Liberal MPP Jim Bradley, on July 5, 2008:

"As Ontario's known C. Diff body-count rises in your secretive health-care monopoly, I’m still waiting for a reply from your smug Liberal government, regarding my letter (see: Ombudsman must investigate Liberal health monopoly) which I had sent to you on Dec.30, 2007, asking you to immediately call for an Ombudsman’s investigation into your health system.

Your office wrote back on Dec.31, 2007 saying:

"Thank you for your e-mail addressed to the Honourable Jim Bradley,Minister of Transportation. Your e-mail is important to us. It has beenforwarded to the appropriate Ministry office for review and we will getback to you as soon as possible. Once again, thank you for bringing your concerns to Minister Bradley'sattention. He always appreciates hearing from members of the public."

Mr. Bradley, it's nice of you to claim to ‘appreciate hearing from members of the public’, but members of the public also appreciate hearing answers from their elected representatives.

I also wrote to you on July 4, 2008 (see: Secretive Liberals hide from C. Diff accountability) - again, regarding the Ombudsman and health-care; will you ignore that letter too?

How many deaths might have been prevented since I wrote to you in Dec.2007, had your government acted, not arrogantly, but responsibly - and allowed the Ombudsman's Office to investigate the systemic problems within your Liberal health-care monopoly?

Why are you and your Liberals hiding from allowing the Ombudsman's Office to investigate your health-care monopoly? Do you think your smug Liberal government is somehow demonstrating transparency and accountability by avoiding scrutiny?

I’m sure all Ontarians, including the press, the opposition parties, and the public, would ‘appreciate’ an answer."

Our vaporous, elusive Liberal Minister of Stealth, Jim Bradley, still hasn't bothered to reply.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Leftist hypocrisy

In Aug. 2006, I wrote that Pulse Niagara columnist Mike Truscello’s “pathological obsession with “neo-con” conspiracy theories, while mildly entertaining, should be challenged when he starts accusing Israel of war crimes. Lest facts get in Truscello’s way, let’s remember that Israel was attacked by Hezbollah while Lebanon was supposedly being monitored by the UN.

Truscello can’t resist twisting Mr. Harper’s accurate assessment of Israel’s “measured response”, bizarrely accusing Harper of “applauding Israel as it bombs civilian targets”. Using such Truscello-style logic, can we infer that Truscello “applauds” attacks upon Israeli civilians?

Nowhere does Truscello bother to acknowledge or condemn the continual rocket and suicide attacks upon random Israelis. Hezbollah even indiscriminately bombed a Haifa neighborhood of predominantly Arab Israelis.

Truscello laughs off that Israel’s self-defense was “measured”. Would the degree of “response” better suit Truscello if it was more like in the good ole days of the Holocaust – ie none? Israelis are not playing in a “script”, as provocateurs like Truscello purport: this is not “Survivor” on TV - it’s survivor for real. The “endgame” Truscello ignores is the jihadist call for the end of Israel.

“What’s happening in the Middle East?” Truscello’s July 27, 2006 column asks. Well, Mike, it seems that Jew hating Islamo-fascists still keep on killing Israelis. And shamefully, it seems like many left-wing apologists can find no crime in that.”

I was reminded again of Truscello by this National Post column of July 28, 2008:

“The recent swap of live Hezbollah fighters for dead Israeli soldiers bothered many readers. But Eli William Benyacar Cadesky raised a question that may have gone unasked: “If captured alive, then how did those two brave soldiers die? Isn’t it contrary to UN regulations to murder captured soldiers or fail to supply them with necessary medical attention? If that is the case, why are we are not hearing outcries of human rights violations? I have asked this question to several papers and human right organizations and have never received a reply.”

Shameful ... and predictable.

Meaningless assurances from Jim Bradley

In light of the massive Niagara health care restructuring proposed by the NHS under the Liberal-run health care system, here are two articles worth reading side by side

The first is from the Welland Tribune, Aug. 30, 2007 – written less than a year ago – titled: “Prognosis good for Port hospital: Mayor Vance Badawey meets with health minister George Smitherman in Welland”:

“The prognosis for the Port Colborne hospital improved Wednesday morning.

Port Colborne Mayor Vance Badawey met with Health Minister George Smitherman Wednesday in Welland and came away feeling better.

Despite assurances from the Niagara Health System that the hospital remains a part of its plans, lakeside city residents have been uneasy about the state of their hospital, especially since the constant care unit closed temporarily in June.

According to Badawey, Smitherman reaffirmed the importance of the city's hospital, the future of the CCU and needed upgrades to the hospital's emergency room.

"We're a town and a town with a need. He looked me in the eye and said, 'We're going to work with you. Your needs will be met,'" Badawey said.

Smitherman's assurance was not a promise of spending, Badawey acknowledges. But he feels it is an indication the province feels there is a role for small town hospitals to play in providing health care.

Bob Muir, who also sat in on the meeting, said Smitherman noted there were "no roadblocks or obstacles" to upgrading the emergency room in the next year.

On June 11 the NHS temporarily closed Port Colborne's CCU, which provides care and monitoring for patients with heart problems.

Patients are stabilized, and if they cannot be stabilized are transferred to one of the three NHS sites that have intensive care units.

Without a CCU the hospital's emergency room is little more than a walk-in clinic, the mayor said.
Niagara Region councillor Bob Saracino said the timing of the health minister's visit is convenient.

Saracino expects further announcements as the provincial election nears.
"My view is there is going to be an announcement (to fund the emergency room upgrade) 2 1/2 weeks before the election," he said.

Badawey said the health minister's affirmation of the hospital's importance is a boost to the city and its health professionals.

He said it should also send a clear message to the NHS that the health ministry expects vital services to be provided in small town hospitals.

Badawey, who ran unsuccessfully for the Liberals in the 2003 provincial election, will meet with senior NHS staff early next month and plans to ask them when they plan to reopen the CCU.
In early June, Saracino wrote an e-mail to the Smitherman, urging him to give the $400,000 to $500,000 project the green light.

He also invited Smitherman to visit the hospital to see for himself how desperately the renovations are needed.

He followed that e-mail up with three phone calls before finally getting a response from ministry last week.

The ministry wrote: "Your e-mail regarding the request to upgrade the emergency department at Port Colborne General Hospital has been received. The ministry is focused on ensuring the successful implementation of the Niagara Health System's new state-of-the-art facility in St. Catharines. As such, we will review the hospital's Port Colborne request in a timely manner. At present, there is no time table for the review."

After receiving the ministry's e-mail, Saracino again called the ministry to tell them that Port Colborne's hospital has nothing to do with the St Catharines project.

He also renewed his invitation to the minister to visit the Port Colborne emergency department to see for himself how desperately needed the renovations are.

And after receiving the reply from the ministry, he also contacted MPP Peter Kormos, who will be running in the upcoming election to represent the people of Port Colborne as part of the expanded Welland riding.

Kormos' office, also, wrote a letter to the ministry urging them to expedite the approval of the renovations.

Saracino also spoke to St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley about the delays. He said Bradley assured him that he'd also speak to Smitherman about the issue.”


Now read this story from Niagara This Week, dated July 25, 2008, titled “Hospital SOS sounded; petition launched to save services at Port Colborne General”:

“Bob Saracino and Vance Badawey want to know the names of every Port Colborne resident.

They want to see those names signed to petitions created to stop the Niagara Health System from shutting down the local hospital’s emergency room and surgical services, which are slated close over the next five years under a hospital improvement plan submitted by the NHS to the Local Health Integration Network.

That just can’t happen, said Saracino, a regional councillor.“It’s too important,” he said. “We need an emergency room.”

The petition, which was drafted by the mayor, is a portion of the city’s master plan to keep the hospital as a 24-hour emergency site. Badawey said that plan includes the petition as well as a formal response. The mayor also hopes to take that a step and also include a proposal for the NHS.

The city’s physician recruitment committee has been given the task to prepare the response. They will meet Tuesday at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

“It’s a lot more than a petition,” he said. “And, at the guts of it will be credible, factual information. The NHS will be getting a response from the entire community of Port Colborne.”
Saracino will be rounding up an army of supporters Thursday at City Hall. He will be handing out petitions and recruiting volunteers for the Save Our Hospital campaign, a campaign he has been a part of three times now.

So far, support from the community has been phenomenal, Saracino said. “The people are just furious,” he said. “They are saying that we need an ER in Port Colborne.“And we do.”

While Saracino has been hearing from some that petitions don’t make an impact, he feels otherwise. Earlier this year the regional councillor slapped a petition with 6,963 names on the desk of the police services board. The board was reviewing a plan that called for the closure of the police detachment in Port.“That made a difference,” he said. “It has an impact. It’s people saying we won’t let this happen.”

Maria Rizzo was outside Port Colborne General Friday awaiting therapy treatment. She added her name to the growing list of Port Colborne residents who have already signed on.“It’s great to have an E.D. here,” she said. “It’s too far to go to Welland, we need it here.”

Saracino and Badawey are hoping all 18,000 Port Colborne residents, and another 8,000 from Wainfleet add their names to the petitions. They are also looking for support from Welland, where an influx of patients from Port Colborne and Wainfleet will attend for emergency care.

The petition, which reads “We the undersigned, petition the Niagara Health System, the Local Health Integration Network and the province of Ontario to maintain a 24-hour seven-day-per-week emergency department at the Port Colborne General site,” will be available at City Hall Thursday at 6 p.m.”


Let’s remember that Badawey actually ran FOR THE LIBERALS prior to the last election! How bloody embarrassed must this politician now be! From “prognosis is improving” to “Hospital SOS” all within a year!! He might have been “feeling better” then; now he, like thousands of other Niagarans, must be feeling DUPED – by their own Liberals !

A lot of FLICKING GOOD Badawey's talking to fellow Liberal Smitherman did, eh? As if Smitherman or Bradley could give a hoot about Port Colborne!

Why even bother talking to Jim Bradley about health care, anyway ?? Even as a cabinet minister, Jim Bradley’s “assurances” obviously were nothing more than useless Bradley B.S.

Doesn’t Badawey understand that his own Liberals have a healthcare monopoly to propagate, and that propping up the welfare of the system overrides concern for the patient? Who cares if there's no emergency room available after hours in certain cities in Niagara? All you have to do is plan ahead and make sure you get sick only during the times when the hospital is open!!

Unbelievable, but, unfortunately true. Ontario Liberals support an unaccountable health care monoply where there is no competition, no patient-payer choice, no alternatives for service. (well, thankfully, for real emergencies, there's still Buffalo) Furthermore, we should be thankful for what the Liberals have thrown at us!!

Doesn’t Badawey now see that contorted Orwellian Liberalism (see: Liberal Healthcare Duplicity) demands that health-care must be cut, in order to save health care?!

Remember, not even a year ago “Smitherman reaffirmed the importance of the city's hospital, the future of the CCU and needed upgrades to the hospital's emergency room.
"We're a town and a town with a need. He looked me in the eye and said, 'We're going to work with you. Your needs will be met,'" Badawey said.”

Badawey fell for the lies of his own Liberals, hook, line, and sinker. Smitherman looked him in the eye, and essentially lied. Sure, ‘your needs will be met’ – it's just that, apparently, they won't be met in Port Colborne!

Note that Smitherman’s office even told Saracino: "Your e-mail regarding the request to upgrade the emergency department at Port Colborne General Hospital has been received. The ministry is focused on ensuring the successful implementation of the Niagara Health System's new state-of-the-art facility in St. Catharines. As such, we will review the hospital's Port Colborne request in a timely manner. At present, there is no time table for the review."

But look – suddenly, after the election – we see there IS a review, it IS tied to the new hospital, and Port Colborne’s hospital IS going down. That was the plan all along, wasn’t it?! Or are the Liberals forcing the NHS (through their LHIN) to come up with all these drastic proposals now, so that the Liberals can look good by riding in on their white horse later with calculated compromises that aren't 'as bad' ?!!

No matter how former Liberal health minister Smitherman batted his eyes, the Liberal's intent was purely deceptive. Nothing has changed.

Jim Bradley keenly rubblizes health-care in Niagara

You gotta love the St. Catharines Standard's front-page story (“Concrete recycled to rebuild highway", by Matthew Van Dongen, July 28, 2008) for the way in which Jim Bradley’s Liberal ass was kissed in plain public view!

In the story, Bradley is brought in to blab about how on-site “rubblizing” (crushing and recycling aggregates within a project) is ‘saving the environment’, as Van Dongen spun it. “The St. Catharines MPP said he’s keen on “greener approaches to highway construction.” Isn't that precious!

As if this has never been done before!! As if adding shredded rubber or other materials to road aggregates and toppings has never been done before!! Anything to cast Ole Keener Jimmy in a glowing light, eh?!

Van Dongen writes Bradley "acknowledged not everyone believes words like “green” and “highway” can co-exist."

But it was Bradley himself who for years painted the idea that ‘green and highways’ can’t coexist!!

Van Dongen, the St. Catharines Standard's “Green Team” columnist laughably didn't bother to mention Jim’s other secret life as Mr. Greenpants personified!! Yet the words "Jim Bradley" and "FLICKING HYPOCRITE" do co-exist quite well.

Good Ole Jimmy for years keenly portrayed himself as a political Mr. Natural; that somehow he was against highways and for GO Transit. (See: Asking Liberal Transportation Minister Jim Bradley: Where is Niagara's GO Train? ) Now, Good Ole Roadbuildin’ Jimmy, as if in some dual-personality schizo state, smugly pretends that this stance was someone else’s, not his!!

Van Dongen also quoted Jim Bradley ominously saying: “Some people don’t want us to build any more highways”. WHO said that, Matthew? Why just leave such Bradleyesque utterings unchallenged? What kind of “reporting” is this, anyway? Bradley - Ontario's sorry Transportation Minister - says something like that, and there’s no follow-up question??

Was Bradley sniping at the Green Party, whose federal leader, Elizabeth May, was quoted in Niagara This Week (Nov.28, 2007) saying “I hate the idea of getting ready for the mid-pen…I want to stop it”? Or, was Bradley referring to his own Liberal party's games of deferring the mid-pen to repetitive EA’s?

What’s astounding is not so much that Van Dongen was brown-nosing Bradley, but that anyone at the St. Catharines Standard could even FIND our Stealth Minister, the elusive Jim Bradley!

It’s unbelievable – Jim Bradley is nowhere to be found in the St. Catharines Standard when his Liberal-government is “rubblizing” health care in Niagara - but, amazingly, Good Ole Jimbo pops up in a front-page Standard puff-piece extolling Good Ole Jimbo’s hallowed greenliness!!

Who cares about Jim Bradley's Liberal health care duplicity?

The Big News folks, is that Jim's Keener & Greener!!

Why didn't this St. Catharines Standard reporter - or any St. Catharines Standard reporter - take the opportunity of Jim Bradley's brief emergence from his Cone Of Silence, to grill Bradley about his failing health care policies?! Our health system is being crushed, while the local MPP blithely babbles about crushing stones?! THIS becomes front-page news?

Is Jim Bradley being given a soft ride by the local press? Is Jim Bradley even being asked to respond to the health care changes being unveiled by the NHS? Or, is Jim Bradley refusing to answer press and constituent questions regarding his Liberal health-care system?? We don't really know. Why are local press articles, when writing of the health care system, not plainly saying somewhere in the story that 'we contacted Mr. Bradley regarding this issue and have not received a reply' ? At least readers would be assured that the press is attempting to contact the MPP. How is it that Bradley is available for a story about stone-crushing, but not about health-care?

What’s next for the Standard, to tout Bradley as our hallowed Father of the Environmental Government?! (That’s been done, see: Liberal Jim "Aw, shucks" Bradley: Greenshevik Idol) .

How about linking the greenie '100-mile diet' fad to a new Bradley-led '100-mile health-care' fad?!!

Yep - Good Ole Jimmy can be portrayed by his St. Catharines Standard proxies touting the benefits of the NHS’s new HIP as “good for your hips”!

“Get out there and use your hips”, a bold, inspirational Jim Bradley can proclaim. Everyone in Niagara will be forced to another city for health care. “Anyway, it’s better for your hips if you walk to the hospital in another city! This will also save the environment!”

This kind of B.S. spin coming from the Liberals or their fawning sycophants is entirely possible. Of course, no one at the greenie column asked Jimbo what kind of environmental footprint would result from closing down the healthcare access to half of Niagara! Maybe Bradley will have to build a GO Train from Fort Erie to St. Catharines – by virtue of his Liberal skewed health care policies, he now has a reason!

Bradley’s own integrity (based on duplicitous Liberalism) has self-rubblized before our very eyes.
update: In the summer of 2011, Jim Bradley's Liberal health-care monopoly killed off some 32 Niagara-area patients (as of Aug.24, 2011) with C. difficile infection - yet the St.Catharines Standard STILL has not interviewed their Golden Boy Jim Bradley on that issue! With 32 patients dead, in Bradley's own backard, in Jim's own Liberal-controlled health monopoly, Bradley's buddies at the Standard still keep on wiping Jim Bradley's Liberal ass - as they've done for years.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

'There is nothing you can do' in a failing Liberal health-care monopoly

Did any one help but notice how the St. Catharines Standard’s competition in the Niagara market slammed them in a story about the NHS?
On July 25, 2008, Doug Draper of Niagara This Week wrote in his column about a Standard story (written by Matthew Van Dongen, July 19, 2008) titled “Oh baby! Health plan delivers for Garden City”. Draper wrote that this headline came across making the Standard look like a “public relations agent for the NHS since it announced its selection of the west St. Catharines site for the hospital some five years ago.
That newspaper’s panting over the possibility of the Garden City becoming “the baby capital of Niagara” notwithstanding, what the rest of us ought to remember is that this is the same NHS that, almost every time groups of doctors in our health system or others put forth a case for a more centrally located regional or “super” hospital for Niagara, responds with an out-worn line that it is committed, instead, to “community-based hospitals.””

Draper used to work at the Standard years ago as the token environment reporter. Maybe Draper’s kinda jealous of Van Dongen, seeing that he’s now the Standard’s ‘greenie’ guy, however, the Standard’s spin on this NHS plan was smugly self-satisfied, that’s certain. Spinning that St. Catharines will become the baby capital really hides the greater fact that other Niagara cities will be losing what they had before.

I agree with Draper that the NHS decision to move to the greenfields near Lincoln was an asinine move, but the Hotel Dieu property has already been sold off to developers.

Let’s recall St. Catharines Liberal MPP Jim Bradley’s bellicose blusterings when he was in Opposition, like this gem about hospital restructuring from the Legislature (Sept 25, 1996):

“Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have the following petition:
"Whereas the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario promised to cut not one cent from health care; and
"Whereas the Mike Harris government has proceeded to cut over $1 billion of much-needed dollars from the community hospitals; and
"Whereas the broken health care promise means that St Catharines General Hospital can no longer afford to employ 20% of its workforce resulting in 220 people paying the price for the funding shortfall from the provincial government; and
"Whereas the people of St Catharines have come to rely upon the caring professional service provided by health caregivers at the general hospital, the Shaver Hospital and the Hotel Dieu Hospital and who view this betrayal by the Mike Harris government as an attack on quality health care services in the Niagara region; and
"Whereas the only area where the government has experienced any success in the field of health has been in its ability to threaten institutions and organizations who have been cut off at the knees by drastic cuts that they will be cut even further or closed should they not cooperate;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario as follows:
"That the Ontario government keep their election promise and restore health care spending to the level at which they promised during the last election campaign so that the general hospital and other hospitals in St Catharines are able to keep the valuable services of all of their employees."
I affix my signature as I'm in complete agreement with this petition.”

It’s such a trip to the sepia-toned land of blissful Liberalism at its most defiant, its most poignantly hypocritical, isn’t it? Let’s not forget how Bradley blustered in opposition about ‘Harris closing the Hotel Dieu’ hospital in St. Catharines – but, it was actually sold off under Bradley’s government! Did you read the part above about Bradley’s allegations about ‘threatened closures if institutions don’t cooperate’?? This is what is happening under Bradley’s own Liberal government today!! (See the St. Catharines Standard, July 26, 2008, editorial further below)

The St Catharines Standard (Oct. 28, 1998) described a holier-than-thou Bradley blustering that “it was the "height of hypocrisy" for the premier to be extolling the virtues of restructuring when community hospitals are being closed.

"We have the most elderly population in this province," he said. "On all too frequent a basis, we have a crisis in emergency care. Yet Mike Harris's destruction commission has put the boots to the religious hospitallers of St. Joseph and those who have worked for that health-care facility and its patients for 50 years."

Wow, Jim – yet now, who’s denying the Ombudsman to investigate their health monopoly? Whose pathetic treatment of “the most elderly population in this province” has become the limited focus of another Ombudsman investigation…you bet – it’s Jimmy’s Liberals!!

And doncha jus’ love Jimbo’s use of the phrase “destruction commission”?! Precious!! That's the Good Ole Jimmy we miss today - that smug, B.S. spouting, big-mouthed monopoly-pushin’ Grit hypocrite!

Today - Bradley's Liberal healthcare system is proposing ‘putting the boots’ to and destroying half of Niagara’s health care facilities – and Jimmy’s nowhere to be found!!! His boots now are made for walkin’, so that’s what Jimmy’s gone and done!

Remember how the St. Catharines Standard (May 29, 1999) reported:

“"We have to put money back into the hospitals and other aspects of health care," said Jim Bradley, the Liberal incumbent running in St. Catharines riding.
Those funds could be found in the existing government budget through measures such as cutting multimillion-dollar consultants' contracts or advertising bills, Bradley said.
And Bradley, who has found health care is the issue voters most want to talk about, has a long list of government decisions over the past four years which must be reviewed, including everything from the final report of the restructuring commission to delisting drugs some seniors can no longer afford to buy.
"I don't believe St. Catharines can easily get by with one active- treatment hospital," said Bradley, alluding to the commission's decision Hotel Dieu will become and ambulatory-care centre and not have acute-care beds. In the Garden City, only St. Catharines General Hospital will have acute-care beds.”

Put money back”, eh, Jim? But now, where’s your multi-billion-dollar Health-Tax money gone, Jim?

Long list of decisions to review’, eh, Jim? Let’s review what you and your Liberal government knew about C. Diff and the high patient mortality-rate in St. Catharines General hospital, Jim.

You ‘don’t believe St. Catharines can get by with one hospital’, eh, Jim? But that’s what you went ahead and did, Jim! One hospital in St. Catharines!! Not only did your government do that, but it looks like your Liberals are going to force the entire region of Niagara to get by on one hospital!! Pretty soon, the ONLY Niagara acute-care beds will be in St. Catharines … (until those eventually get consolidated to Hamilton …to save medicare, of course)

I’ve previously written that the new hospital’s site should have been in downtown St. Catharines, according to the Harris government’s sensible “Smart Growth” development philosophy. Yet, the NHS, under the Liberals, made the decision to move to the exurbs, and no one, provincially, federally, municipally, or regionally, did anything to convince them otherwise. Draper moaning now about changing the site is really, I believe, almost too late, short of some shocking intervention by the new Liberal Health Minister, David Caplan.

The greater problem everyone seems to forget is the perspective that all of this restructuring is occurring in a MONOPOLY system. These problems have festered and come to roost because Ontario’s bloated system has been protected and coddled from competition and accountability, by all stripes of single-tier-health-care-ideology-addicted politicians. Socialists want even more disastrous medicare, over and above the demonstrably disastrous system we have now. Yet no one wants to talk about the kind of opportunities that would come from a private-parallel system.

The problem is with the Canada Health Act and the Liberal Commitment To the Future of Medicare Act. These two legislations have ultimately conspired to enable the NHS to close facilities in order to ‘save’ medicare!

Remember Kathleen Tod (Toronto Star , Mar.17, 1997) writing “As St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley succinctly put it at a public meeting protesting recommended closing of four Niagara hospitals: “The committee appears to concede that we must cut off our leg at the knee for fear the provincial government will cut it off at the hip.”"

Ah, yes…how can we forget Smug Ole Jim Bradley’s role in the mess that is the NHS. Ten years ago, in opposition, Jim was blabbing homilies about cutting your leg off at the knee, so as the government won’t cut it off at the hip later – how clever!! Gosh darn, the Star ate that stuff up!

(Oddly, that VERY SAME quote (“As St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley succinctly put it at a public meeting protesting recommended closing of four Niagara hospitals: “The committee appears to concede that we must cut off our leg at the knee for fear the provincial government will cut it off at the hip.''”) was used again, this time by Janet Davison in a St. Catharines Standard, on May 29, 1999 – over a year later!!

Smug quotes from Jim Bradley, the Oracle of Secord Dr., are apparently timeless classics, recyclable at any time that some additional Liberal health care duplicity is in order.

Yet today, a not-very-succinct Bradley is nowhere to be found WHEN HIS OWN LIBERAL HEALTH SYSTEM is actually doing what Bradley once accused that Mike Harris would do!

Is Draper onto something when he notes that the Standard has in a way become the voice of the NHS ‘status-quo’?

A case can be made that Good Ole Jimmy has for too long been getting an overly easy ride from the local press. There have been more than enough Standard health care stories and editorials where Jim Bradley’s comments, or a scrutiny of Jim Bradley’s influence upon the situation being written about, is simply not mentioned. No mention either whether Bradley had even been contacted for a response, but didn’t respond. It’s like Bradley is being protected from scrutiny.

So when Draper talks about The Standard as being, well, NHS friendly, is that like then acknowledging that the Standard is pretty much Liberal Bradley friendly, also?

Take a look at the Standard’s editorial today July 26, 2008, and ask yourself who (as Bradley once said of Harris) is now ‘extolling the virtues of restructuring when facilities are being closed’!
You just have to wonder how happily supportive of these restructuring proposals the Standard would be if Harris was in power!! You can bet that this very same proposal, had the NHS made it during Harris’s term, would have sent Smug Ole Jimmy Bradley into a flicking fit of political and rhetorical apoplexy. Now, the Standard endorses it and the local Liberal is nowhere to be found – no quotes in the local paper, no mention of Jim Bradley in the following editorial at all:

So here is the St. Catharines Standard editorial from July 26, 2008: (my comments are in italics)

“The NHS lays a solid plan for the future.

Get past the hysteria, and what you will see is a solid plan for the future operation of Niagara's hospitals. (yes…in a monopoly system. What happens if the McCreith/Holmes constitutional charter challenge ends up unfavourably for the McGuinty Liberal government?)

The Niagara Health System's Hospital Improvement Plan is being largely panned beyond the borders of St. Catharines.

(that’s because the rest of Niagara will be losing what they thought and expected was the healthcare promised to them by the Liberals. They are being short changed with a McGuinty bait and switch health-care routine – cutting nearby facilities and forcing people to go further for shrinking services. If this happened to St. Catharines, and the new super hospital was, say in Fort Erie, the Standard surely wouldn’t be singing this tune. Conversely, maybe the super hospital should be built, say, in Smithville – that’s pretty fairly central to everyone too, isn’t it? Would the Standard gloat about that option?)

There are concerns about closing emergency rooms in Port Colborne and Fort Erie. Welland and Niagara Falls face losing their maternity wards. (and they are valid concerns: were Niagarans aware of Dalton McGuinty’s
Liberal Healthcare Duplicity, when they voted in Oct. 2007!? We were assured by the Liberals that health care was fine, there were no problems!)

But the NHS is in a tough spot. The services it currently provides cost more than the money coming in. (the Standard fails to ask whether the Liberal’s monopolist Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act has anything to do with this – since the only legal payer for medical services is the Liberal government itself, why aren’t the services properly funded??? I mean, that’s what the lefties MUST DO since they have taken away our own right to pay for our own health care!)

It has major staffing shortfalls. Emergency rooms are crowded. (so how will closing facilities ease staffing? How will that ease emergency room overcrowding, when more patients will be trekking to fewer available facilities. Will patient volume somehow miraculously decline?)

The local health system needs to be modernized. (competition by its nature strives to improve and modernize its facilities and practices…something the Liberal’s health care monopoly is cosily protected from. Why should they 'modernize' (whatever that actually means) anyway? They don’t have to!! It’s not like they won’t get paid at the end of the day no matter how poorly they provide a service…in a no-choice, non-competitive monopoly, there is no real incentive to reinvest. The NHS facilities are oddly all sort of stopped in time in the 1960’s – when Tommy Douglas’s Great Leap Forward occurred, major local hospital redevelopment stopped.)

In an effort to address these issues, in particular the inability of the NHS to balance its budget, (why…it’s not because the Liberals funding model was faulty, was it?!)

the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Local Health Integration Network requested the HIP.
(that’s an interesting spin, that the LHIN, in their designated role in this health-care soap-opera as the ‘bad-guys’, “requested” this – but wasn’t it AFTER KIM CRAITOR started making noises about the NHS?
And wasn’t that AFTER the now-conveniently forgotten 2007 Ontario auditor’s report, which slammed the Liberal’s health system?
And didn’t Craitor begin to seriously start making theses noises back in early Dec. 2007 – only several days AFTER the Liberals were embarrassed by the revelation at the end of Nov. 2007 (conveniently for the Liberals, after the election!) that that the NHS hospital in St. Catharines had the third highest death-rate in Canada??
Wasn’t this when the NHS circus of ‘reviewing the reviews’ began, and former Liberal health minister Smitherman at the time hemmed-and-hawed about whether he even wanted to bother to do anything, anyway?
The same Smitherman who said that the NHS was in some kind of spending “free-for-all”? And Good Ole Jim Bradley – from St. Catharines – said SWEET FLICK ALL about the high mortality rate in his own riding!
Jimmy didn’t bother to call for any investigation!!
Jimmy even downplayed that a “review” was only “routine stuff’, anyway – nothing to see here, folks…move on!!
Let’s not pretend and spin it that somehow the LHIN initiated this HIP - there were many earlier underlying signs that the NHS was in serious trouble.
But it is crucial to note, that Jim Bradley to this day has not provided an explanation for the high death-rate in his own riding’s hospital.
The Liberals out and out denied that there was any funding link problem related to the high death-rate – and suddenly from that – we’ve got a major Niagara hospital consolidation plan!?! How are these things connected?? The Standard claims it’s because the NHS needs to balance its budget – but that doesn’t explain the death rate. Will the death-rate go up if the NHS cuts its spending?)

The result is a good blueprint prepared by Niagara doctors and nurses expected to shave $31.9 million off NHS expenditures, and turn a $17.9-million deficit last year into a $1.5-million surplus by 2013.
The deficit for this year is projected at $16.1 million. (Oh yay…more financial smoke and mirrors: again, what is “extra”, in a closed monopoly system, funded solely by the whim of the Liberal government?
It’s not “extra” at all, it’s just spin – it’s really an acknowledgement of lack of planning and of initial budgetary underfunding, isn’t it?! These “extras” are happily ‘topped up’ by politicians at convenient photo-ops.
Also, how - and why - would the NHS operate with a future surplus, for cryin’ out loud?! Similarly – how can a “surplus” exist in this same closed system – that also is a sign of inefficient capital deployment. There is no correlation between costs and expenses and services and efficiencies in Ontario’s closed, single-payer, central-planning-managed health care monopoly.
The ‘normal’ forces of a market have been purposefully skewed by socialist health-care economic policies. The concept of deficits and surpluses is an artificial construct within the monopoly, governed at the whim of the controlling majority Liberal government through their Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act.
‘Saving money’ by consolidating health services within a monopoly construct does not benefit the patient – it’s for strengthening the monopoly. These two goals are mutually exclusive – as the charade of the NHS plan is showing itself to be. We are told to accept the cuts, because we have to save some socialist system – which breeds more cuts.)

What is needed to calm the hysteria is some understanding about what is being proposed.

When you tell someone the emergency room in their community hospital is closing, it's understandable that they will get a little anxious, if not panic-stricken.
What many don't seem to know is that the emergency departments at Douglas Memorial Hospital in Fort Erie and Port Colborne General will be converted to prompt care centres.
This could be where the NHS needs to improve its message. (the message of bait and switch?)

There are two main differences between prompt care centres and emergency rooms. One, ambulances don't drop patients off at prompt care centres. Two, prompt care centres close overnight.
If the HIP is accepted and adopted, Douglas Memorial and Port Colborne General will effectively have fully-functioning emergency rooms -- open from 8 a. m. to 10 p. m. NHS senior staff say that will cover 97 per cent of the patients who currently frequent emergency services in those facilities. (so folks, make sure you don’t have an accident during the hours that your no-choice healthcare monopoly is closed! The reason it is closed is because we need to save the system, not necessarily YOU!
Man, I hope Michael Sicko Moore can use this comedy material for his next propaganda film)

As for obstetrics, maternity services will still be available in Niagara. But the field of medicine will be specialized and improved in the new St. Catharines hospital. It's a bit a drive for some, but it's not onerous. Many people in this province, both urban and rural, live a 30-minute drive, or more, from their closest hospital. (hey look – the beginnings of the 100-mile health care diet! It’s not onerous for you to drive/walk/crawl/be carried further to save Tommy Douglas’s reputation, is it?)

Absent the HIP prepared by the NHS, reforms could be imposed on the local health system from above.
(oh … you mean, just like Good Ole Jimmy Bradley threatened and fearmongered that Harris would do?! Such as that Harris “would threaten institutions and organizations who have been cut off at the knees by drastic cuts that they will be cut even further or closed should they not cooperate” - as Jim Bradley said in the Legislature (noted earlier) on Sept. 25, 1996?!!
Precious stuff…really!)

"If the ministry feels a hospital is not dealing with issues appropriately, it has the authority to send in an supervisor," NHS CEO Debbie Sevenpifer told an editorial board of Osprey Media's Niagara newspapers Thursday.
That supervisor would have the power to draft a reform plan and impose it on the local hospital system, and there are no guarantees it would be change that is for the best in Niagara. (if the ministry had sent in a supervisor, then the Ombudsman could legally investigate the NHS!!
Why didn’t the Standard’s editorial board ask the NHS whether they think that step would be preferable – for patient well-being?
Why didn’t the Standard also ask the NHS at the time to explain the reasons for their having the hospital with the third-highest mortality rate in Canada?
Why not ask the NHS how much information was provided about this situation to local MPP Jim Bradley’s Liberal government prior to his Oct.2007 re-election?
Was the Liberal’s funding model in any way related to the high mortality rate found by CIHI in Nov.2007?)

"We have all these services and programs in Niagara, but the ministry could dictate moving services out of the region," said Dr. Jeff Cranford, NHS chief of surgery. "If the LHIN wants to move services to Hamilton, there is nothing we can do about it.
(yikes … who’s spreading the alarmism now?
“Nothing we can do about it”?! That’s a telling attitude, and it contains a crucial insight: Patients can do NOTHING, because by Liberal law, we are trapped in their health care monopoly.
This is exactly what the McCreith/Holmes constitutional health-care challenge against McGuinty’s health system is all about.
We are forced to believe doomsday scenarios that “There is nothing we can do” because we are forced into this bind by the Liberals.
We are then fooled into believing that some stinking Liberals will then magically solve the problems, which they themselves were instrumental in creating.
Of course we can do something about it – we can ban Liberal healthcare monopolies. We can have patient-payer choices. We can have a private-parallel health system. Or, we can just close down more Niagara hospitals.)

"That is partly why it is important this plan be sensible, doable and hard for them to reject."
(once again, roll over for the Liberals, eh? Once again, kow-tow to please the Liberal monopolist masters!)

The HIP plan is solid, will help the NHS get out of the red and was made in Niagara by Niagara health-care professionals.
(again, why is the NHS in the red, and, why is that some kind of problem? Has it been proven that the NHS somehow squandered funds not for patient care? Has anyone actually investigated? Why isn’t the Liberal’s monopolist funding model - you know, the one Liberals adamantly kept saying is fine – not the focus of attention?)

It is a change, yes. But it is not change to fear. In the end, this plan will make health care in Niagara better, stronger and more efficient.” (hopeful conjecture)
If one re-reads the St. Catharines Standard’s editorial of Dec.4, 2007 (see: Ontario's broken health system cure: a big box of Band-Aids), and compares it to their July 26, 2008 Liberal-friendly apologist editorial above, it’s hard to believe that they are now writing about the same health care system!!

It’s hard to believe that within seven months, the Standard’s “new approach” to a “broken health care system” would really only amount to tinkering with closures and consolidations, and of acquiescing to the disease of 'status-quo' Liberal health care duplicity. (ie, the Liberal ass-kissing continues unabated...)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Mess in the NHS

In "Secretive Liberals hide from C. Diff accountability" I asked how Ontarians can force an arrogant Liberal Government to be held responsible for its healthcare monopoly, and whether indicting the government or its MPP’s or ministers is the ultimate way to obtain answers and accountability.

For example, Liberal St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley refuses to reveal why the hospital in his own city was found in a Nov. 2007 CIHI study to have the third highest mortality rate in Canada. (See: Jim Bradley and the entropy of Ontario's health care; see: Ontario's 'medicare' promises fulfilled by U.S. health-system)

Jim Bradley didn’t bother to answer my requests to provide an explanation of the reasons this has occurred under his Liberal nose in his own backyard. (See: Health care and Ontario's arrogant, irresponsive Liberals). Jim Bradley couldn’t even be bothered to call for or support initiating any inquiries into the matter. (See: Liberals ignore call for health-monopoly investigation). Jim Bradley ignored requests to allow Ontario’s Ombudsman legal authority to examine the Liberal’s hospital monopoly. (see: Liberals hide like cockroaches from Ombudsman's light). St. Catharines Stealth Minister, the elusive Jim Bradley, sat silent on these matters. No quotes or explanations are to be found in any local newspaper from Good Ole Jimmy B regarding his failing Liberal single-payer health monopoly.

At least in the C. Diff situation in Burlington, Ont., a class action lawsuit is being launched against the local hospital. The Welland Tribune (June 11, 2008) reported in “Judge must certify suit as a class action: Families file suit against Burlington hospital over outbreak of C. difficile”:

“Families whose loved ones died after contracting C. difficile - and one patient who says leaving hospital saved her life - have filed a $50-million lawsuit against Joseph Brant Memorial in Burlington.
There was no comment Wednesday from the hospital, where 91 patients infected with C. difficile died in a 20-month outbreak.
Experts say the hard-to-control bacterium caused or played a clear part in 62 of the deaths and contributed to 14 others.
The case is guided by Hamilton lawyer Stanley Tick, a lead counsel in the Walkerton tainted-water suit, and Harvey Strosberg, whose cases include the hepatitis C class action against Ottawa, which resulted in a $1.1-billion settlement.
The suit, filed Wednesday, claims the C. difficile outbreak was preventable and that Joseph Brant was negligent in the way it cleaned, maintained and disinfected the hospital.
The allegations made in the statement of claim have not been proven in court.
The proposed suit must be certified by a judge as a class action before it can go forward.
The suit asks for an additional $5 million in punitive, special and other damages in an action that Tick says is partly motivated by the families' wish never to see a repeat of what happened at the hospital.
The suit alleges Joseph Brant failed to recognize there was an outbreak and did not take reasonable steps to control C. difficile when it hit in 2006 and 2007.
Pat O'Sullivan, one of the claimants, has told the story publicly of how she entered Joseph Brant for knee surgery and caught C. difficile .
O'Sullivan believes she survived only because she checked herself out of hospital.
The husband of plaintiff Dorothy Elliott entered hospital for knee replacement, caught C. difficile and died of complications from the bug.
Jack Elliott was 79, one year younger than the average age of 80 for those who died over the 20 months.”

This kind of last-resort legal action will certainly become more prevalent as victimized patients face the Liberal’s failing, non-competitive, no-choice health monopoly. (See: Courts are a patient's last line of defence against Ontario's universal health-care demagogues) McGuinty’s Ontario Liberals smugly – if not negligently - ignored Quebec’s Chaoulli decision, pretending that Ontario’s health monopoly was somehow beyond reproach. This Brant lawsuit, and the previously-launched McCreith/Holmes constitutional challenge against McGuinty’s health monopoly, show the dangerous extremes to which Liberals have gone to propagate their health monopoly, even if it means putting patient/captives at unnecessary risk. The question is, will former Health Minister George Smitherman be made to testify as to what he and his Liberal ministry knew and did regarding the C. Diff outbreak for all of Ontario, and for Joeseph Brant hospital in particular? Or, will the Brant hospital managers or staff be hung out to dry on this one, while the Liberal government walks away smelling of roses?

On July 16, 2008 the Niagara Health System unveiled a massive proposal to centralize services by closing and restructuring its facilities in a move to supposedly rationalize its expenses; or, in other words, to keep itself out of a Liberal-government-monopoly-budget-funded, artificially-created deficit – which is itself astounding, since the Liberals created a new Health Tax (See: Dalton's deceptive health-care-tax ) in 2004 supposedly to avoid this very situation ... so, where has that tax-money gone? The Liberal-enforced monopoly prevents people paying for their own health care, thereby leaving patients hostage to the budgetary whims of an unaccountable health system controlled by an unaccountable government.

Of course, Liberal Stealth Minister Jim Bradley sits silent on this now, as well. We should remember (See: Liberal Jim Bradley's health-care fear-mongering and bombast: disheartening and predictable; or better yet, see: "My husband died while waiting for medical care", voter tells Liberal Jim Bradley) how a pompous, outraged Bradley blustered and huffed about alleged Conservative health care cuts in opposition – now, Jimmy’s own Liberals (under cover of the Liberal-created LHIN, naturally) will be doing the closing, the consolidating, the restructuring, the rationalization, the cutting (see:"Smitherman's a frickin' jerk" reader says) – because, hey, folks – you gave Jim and Kim and Dalton a majority government !!

So now, the Grits can do whatever they want, and now, Good Ole Jim has all but vanished from the health care scene! After all, as I wrote in "Collectivized health care is the problem", Bradley and his Liberals “are the problem today, and always were. We can't count on Jim Bradley to champion reforms against the failing monopoly system which he advocated and helped prop up. Looks like Bradley and his Liberals will let the courts decide and do their job for them. The Liberal's political will to run roughshod over patients with their health monopoly is inexcusable, if not outright negligent. The Liberals are more interested in power than patients.” (See also: Can Jim Bradley explain why he "stood up and said 'I hate doctors'"?)

Our other local Liberal, MPP Kim Craitor (See: Pat on the back, or kick in the butt?) from Niagara Falls, said he isn’t going to comment on the direction that the NHS should be taking! True Liberal leadership! Yet in "Sadistic Liberal health-care in Ontario", Craitor was publicly pontificating decentralizing the NHS!

Now, the Niagara Falls Review (July 21, 2008) wrote this comment about Craitor in “Brick to Craitor for missing opportunity to lead on NHS issue”:

“Brick: To Niagara Falls MPP Kim Craitor, who last week refused to speak publicly
about the Niagara Health System's Hospital Improvement plan that will see the maternity ward close at Greater Niagara General Hospital along with the emergency and operating rooms at Douglas Memorial Hospital in Fort Erie.
"My answer is simply this is just the first step. What I don't want to do and what I will not do is get into a discussion of the NHS plan," Craitor said.
This coming from the man who during the last provincial vote tried to make significant electoral hay at the expense of the NHS by calling for it to be broken up. This coming from the man who has spent a great deal of time over the past few weeks loudly demanding the Ministry of Health conduct a review of the NHS.
And now that the NHS has delivered its proposal - a proposal that came about in no small part due to Craitor's criticism - he has wimped out.
Yes, it's his job to represent the interests of his constituents. But it's also his job to lead. It's his duty to lead. How does he do that without telling us what he thinks?
He can't. And with this less-than-transparent approach, he has let everyone down.
This is one of the most blatant acts of political abdication we have witnessed in a very long time.”

Yet - if Craitor has blatantly committed an act of "political abdication", then WHAT ABOUT GOOD OLE JIM BRADLEY ?!

Bradley has said LESS THAN CRAITOR regarding Niagara's health care!!

Bradley has said practically NOTHING AT ALL on this issue!! If Craitor “wimped out”, then in comparison, Good Ole Jim Bradley has become a useless deadbeat on the issue!

Bradley has also "let everyone down".

Bradley has vacated his "duty to lead" as well.

Bradley also hides from "telling us what he thinks". Neither the press, nor constituents, have been blessed by blustery Bradley health-care proclamations. Jimmy's just gone and disappeared.

Even during the Oct. 2007 election campaign, Good Ole Jim Bradley said nothing about the systemic problems within his government-run health monopoly here in Niagara. Jim Bradley said nothing about the impending closures which his government must have known about - and if they didn’t know about these problems in Oct. of 2007, why didn’t they know? Leading up to the election, there were many stories in The St. Catharines Standard and Niagara This Week highlighting all kinds of various aspects of Niagara’s health-system inadequacies. So, of course, the Liberals, and Jim Bradley, knew – they just ignored it. (see: Another wait time death). Acknowledging the on-going failure of their health system is something Liberals didn’t want to trumpet during an election.

Jim Bradley pretended that everything was fine in Niagara's health system – Jim blabbed something about MRI’s at Sunnybrook (in Toronto!) once or twice at the all-candidate’s debates, and that was about it! (see: Liberal Jim Bradley: tired and uninspired during debate).

John Robbins reported in “Health minister urged to look at hospital funding before adopting NHS changes”, (St. Catharines Standard, July 24, 2008):

“Ontario's health minister should relegate the Niagara Health System's hospital improvement plan to the "recycling bin," says Niagara West-Glanbrook Conservative MPP Tim Hudak.
Instead, the government should examine whether Niagara's current hospital services are being adequately funded.”

[Let’s remember that former health minister Smitherman said back in Dec.7, 2007, in the St. Catharines Standard: that there is free-for-all spending occurring in the NHS!!

See: Liberals claim medicare is a "free-for-all": so they cut hospital beds and nurses!;
See: Liberal health-care: once, free for all; now, a free-for-all ;
See: Liberals ignore call for health-monopoly investigation;

Or, see: Hospital death-rate in Liberal Jim Bradley's St. Catharines: third-worst in Canada, where I wrote:

"The Toronto Star reported Jan.7, 2008, that Smitherman, talking of Brampton , "dismisses bids to link patient care troubles to funding model". Yet in Niagara, exactly a month ago, the St. Catharines Standard (Dec. 7, 2007) reported "Laurel Ostfield, a spokeswoman for Smitherman, said the spectre of a review of operations at the NHS isn't a direct response to high death rates at St. Catharines General Hospital, which made national headlines last week."
So: 'patient care troubles' are not related to funding - at least in Brampton, and as already predetermined by the person running the system, Smitherman! Are we just supposed to take this Liberal's word that this is true?!
And, what about the 'patient care troubles' in St. Catharines?
There, Smitherman's staff were also denying any link between the CIHI report and the subsequent Liberal NHS 'organizational review' .
You would think that the Liberals would show concern about the high death rates and launch, not a simple organizational review, but a full-fledged inquiry.
But no, in St. Catharines they didn't even acknowledge any link between the 'funding model' , the high death rates, and their so-called review. The Liberals also ignored that "The NHS has consistently maintained it doesn't receive enough funding from the provincial government to properly care for a population with a large mix of seniors and residents on the lower end of the socio-economic scale. "If a review brings in the results we need to get the funding we need, then we're all for it," [Betty-Lou Souter, chairwoman of the health system's board of trustees] said. "The bottom line is, we need to have more money to carry out the programs we're doing."" (St. Catharines Standard, Dec.7, 2007)
So why doesn't Jim Bradley explain why his Liberals are not sufficiently funding the health monopoly which they cherish so? Where's the money?"

Yes - it was Liberal health minister Smitherman who intimated that the NHS were simply spendthrifts who needed to live within their (Liberal-given) means! So now, the Liberal-run health ministry and the Liberal-created LHIN will be playing their assigned Good-cop/Bad-cop roles with Niagara's healthcare.]

Robbins story continues:

""The buck stops at the desk of the health minister," Hudak told Osprey News. "We have a new minister, who is not the one who initiated this process. His first step should be to evaluate whether funding for Niagara's hospital services is appropriate ... before contemplating any kind of service reductions."
The NHS plan, in a bid to cut its $17.9- million deficit and boost patient care, calls for several changes, including:
Closing the emergency department at Douglas Memorial Hospital in Fort Erie, and redeveloping the hospital as a community health centre and a slow-paced recovery and rehabilitation centre for people with complex needs.
Closing the ER at Port Colborne General Hospital and turning facility into a community health centre.
Closing the maternity units at Greater Niagara General Hospital and Welland County General Hospital in favour of creating a state-of-the-art, centralized unit at a new hospital in St. Catharines. Several types of surgical services would be centralized at GNGH if the plan is ultimately approved. "

[Closings galore, and cuts to emergency room hours to boot! Where will patients in need go when the emergency is closed? How will they get elsewhere? Will they be put at greater risk? Why isn't Michael Sicko Moore blabbing about this austere aspect of his beloved universal, single-payer government-run health-care system?!]

"Hudak said the plan isn't what most Niagara citizens expected to see, nor is it the type of health care the Liberals promised to deliver during the last election.
"It was just nine months ago that we were in the midst of a provincial election campaign and no word of the possibility of closing down the ER in Fort Erie or Port Colborne was ever breathed by Premier (Dalton) McGuinty, his health minister or any of our local Liberal candidates. It's somewhat dishonest that that was not brought out as something for people to know about when they were casting their votes," said Hudak.
Niagara Falls Liberal MPP Kim Craitor, who had pushed for a review of hospital operations since last fall, said the plan put forward for public comment is the NHS's plan -- not the government's.
Craitor said no matter what anyone thinks of the proposals, it's the first time since the health system's creation in the late 1990s the hospital board has been forced to make its long-term plans public.
Dr. Bill Shragge, the health system's chief of staff, said the NHS looks forward to public input and a review of its plan by the Local Health Integration Network that oversees Niagara hospitals.
However, maintaining the status quo isn't an option anymore.”"

[You want to know what exactly is meant by the phrase “status quo” here in Niagara when it comes to health-care??
See: Ontario's broken health system cure: a big box of Band-Aids;
See: High patient death rates deserve only "routine" Liberal review;
See: Can McGuinty's Liberals be held negligently liable for the suffering of Ontario patients? ]

""I haven't seen Mr. Hudak's comments, but I can tell you, the present scenarios are not
sustainable. They're not optimal," Shragge said.

"Frankly, many, many of the drivers that led to this vision by the health professionals, the doctors, the nursing staff relate very much to a human-resources crisis in terms of lack of staff. The number of vacancies we have in the system, we don't have staff to fill the vacancies."

[And yet, for example, when it came to nursing home staff shortages, health ministry spokesman Mark Nesbitt said staff shortages were not an issue, (St. Catharines Standard, July 3, 2008)]

There seem to be a lot of discrepancies as to why this review is even taking place; and how answers can be positioned to not reflect poorly on the Liberals. Remember, Jim Bradley had at the beginning simply fluffed off this NHS review as just typically "routine stuff", (Dec.7, 2007, St. Catharines Standard). Jim Bradley had no concerns about the 'status quo': the hospital in his own St. Catharines riding had the third-highest patient mortality rate in Canada, and yet Bradley didn't even bother to call for an investigation.

This Liberal MPP is flicking pathetic.

It's time people begin not only to review, but to condemn - not only the mess in the NHS, but also the underlying legislation which enables it, namely Dalton McGuinty's failing Liberal "Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act".

If patient-payer choice continues to be outlawed by monopoly-minded Liberals, then this NHS 'restructuring/review' will amount to little more than a pointless exercise of rearranging the Titanic's deck chairs.

Regrettably, no mainstream Ontario politician, be it NDP, Conservative, or Liberal, is willing to chart the course towards a pro-active, realistic private-parallel health system.

Rather, they all seemingly will wait for the courts to make the decision for them - forcing patients to suffer the consequences of the politicians' ideological addiction to single-tier health-care.
Fast forward from today's post to the month of July, 2011, and read some of the thirty+ posts that I wrote about the killer C. difficile outbreak which gripped Niagara three years later, which began shrouded in secrecy in mid-May 2011: the same Liberal scumbag secrecy that I was writing about here in 2008, was STILL there in 2011; there were more patients dead, and more secretive Liberal monopolists scurrying around, still pretending they had nothing to do with it.
This longstanding arc of Ontario Liberal political health-care negligence is sickening.