Thursday, July 3, 2008

Jim Bradley: Liberal not responsible for seniors

In “ Another wait time death” (Oct.19, 2007) R. Bobak wrote:

“A story, “Wait times longest for seniors: study” (St. Catharines Standard, Oct.19, 2007) reported that across Canada, 10% of patients admitted to ER had to wait 15 hours or longer for a bed and that the average age of those waiting 24 hours or more was 67, and 52% of these patients were female.

Three days earlier on Oct. 16, 2007, the St.Catharines Standard ran another story, “Warning sounded on bed shortages” stating that “bed shortages in local hospitals are getting worse”, with an eyewitness account from Dr. Keith Greenway about a cancer patient right in Niagara who passed away while waiting in the hallway for a bed.

Yet, it was only on Sept.30, 2006 that the Standard ran a story, “More hospital beds not in the cards: premier”, where Dalton McGuinty “deflected answers about funding additional beds to alleviate wait times.”

On Sept.29, 2007, during the election campaign, the Standard ran a story, “Emergency in health care”, as well as another story featuring Suzanne Aucoin, “Groups call for improved cancer care”, as well as James Wallace's “Clock ticking on healthcare system”, all detailing a plethora of problems within our health system.

Yet during the Sept. 2007 election campaign, Liberal Jim Bradley said precious little about these healthcare issues that have been fermenting under his government’s reign, as he was busy fear mongering about an imaginary fragmentation of our school system!

In each of these preceding St. Catharines Standard stories, no mention was made of, and no reaction was reported from our local MPP, Jim Bradley. Readers would like to know whether Jim Bradley is being contacted for local story reactions or not, with a comment in the story from the local reporter such as ‘Bradley’s office was contacted for reaction about this issue, but declined comment’.

It's as if good ol’Jim Bradley, Minister for Seniors, conveniently doesn’t have much to do about any of these severe systemic healthcare problems which he and his party have helped create.”

Speaking further of seniors issues, today’s St. Catharines Standard, July 3, 2008, headline story (credited to Monique Beech and The Canadian Press) was titled: “Staff crunch blamed for nursing home woes”. Yet, contrary to the Standard’s headline, towards the end of this story the Standard wrote: “Staffing is not the issue, Nesbitt said”. (Ministry of Health spokesman, Mark Nesbitt).

So are staffing shortages to blame, as the Standard says, for St. Catharines’ long term care homes to “rack up dozens of provincial infractions”?

And why is some Brock University prof’s opinion being given prominence in this issue, anyway?

What does the responsible local Liberal MPP, Jim Bradley, have to say about this?

Why isn't Bradley blustering mightily trying to back up the Ministry of Health's position that staffing is NOT to blame? After all, Bradley and his Liberals raised billions of dollars of new health taxes to supposedly alleviate these very kinds of shortages being talked about today!

Where is Jim Bradley’s smug commentary today; where is Bradley's finely-tuned outrage; where is Bradley's ever-so-vaunted huffery… or, his eloquent puffery; where is Bradley's ever so-righteous indignation; or his smug elitism, or his sarcastic rebuttal?

So…where IS Jim Bradley? What’s he got to say for himself and his Liberal policies now? Who’s Jimmy gonna blame now?! Well, no one knows!!

Did the Liberals not trumpet that they were going to revolutionize (whatever that meant) senior’s care?

And wasn’t Good Ole Liberal MPP Jim Bradley from St. Catharines the “Minister Responsible for Seniors” in the previous Liberal cabinet?

What did Jim Bradley ever do to help alleviate these problems – which as we can see, festered all the way through Bradley’s tenure? Wasn’t seniors minister Bradley aware of these LTC problems?!

What exactly WAS Bradley responsible FOR, anyway? Did the sad state of Ontario’s LTC facilities have nothing to do with, ah, ‘seniors’?

Maybe if Bradley was forced to publicly answer questions before an Ombudsman’s investigation, we’d know what Jim Bradley was actually “responsible” for at the time.

But, at the moment, sadly, a smug and unresponsive Liberal Jim Bradley doesn’t have to answer any constituent questions about his role in any matter, health-care related or not.

In “Ombudsman preparing to investigate conditions in Ontario's nursing homes”, July 3, 2008, Canadian Press was reporting that Ontario’s Ombudsman Andre Marin is nosing around this LTC aspect of Liberal-run health care - as well he should, although, again, the Liberals are preventing the Ombudsman from conducting any full health-care inquiry.

Oddly, the St. Catharines Standard’s story mentioned above - “Staff crunch…” – contained no mention of the Ombudsman whatsoever; nor was there any mention of, or reaction available in our local paper from, St. Catharines MPP, Former-Minister-Somehow-Not-Really-That-Responsible-For-Seniors, Jim Bradley.

Maybe tomorrow’s St. Catharines Standard edition will mention the Ombudsman and Jim Bradley??

This is the CP story from July 3, 2008:

“The "horror stories" about shocking conditions in the province's nursing homes have prompted Ontario's watchdog to prepare for an investigation into whether the governing Liberals are doing enough to ensure the safety and dignity of elderly residents, The Canadian Press has learned.
Ombudsman Andre Marin said his office has been doing a "pre-investigation" for the last three months to determine whether a full-blown probe is needed and he expects to make an announcement in the coming days.
"There is no doubt with an aging population and some of the horror stories and allegations you hear, the public needs to have confidence that these places are working properly and that the checks and balances that are there are actually doing their job," Marin said in an interview. "These are allegations that need to be assessed."
His decision comes in the wake of an investigation by The Canadian Press which found three-quarters of the province's nursing homes had been cited for failing to meet some of the government's 400 standards - a proportion that hasn't changed significantly since 2004 when then-health minister George Smitherman promised a "revolution" in the province's long-term care.
Inspection reports from April 2007 to March this year show some long-term care homes were cited repeatedly for failing to provide a minimum of two baths a week while inspectors found other residents didn't own a toothbrush.
At other homes, inspectors found residents with greasy, unkempt hair wallowing in soiled, "foul-smelling" diapers.
More than 60 per cent of the homes in Ontario were cited for violating the specific set of standards that ensure residents are well-fed, clean and free of pain, as well as dictating how homes care for incontinent residents and when they use restraints.
These figures just add "grist to the mill," Marin said.
"These are very serious allegations and they resonate with the kind of complaints that we've been hearing from people," said Marin, adding his office gets hundreds of complaints relating to hospitals and long-term care facilities each year.
"We've heard allegations that these people are condemned to live a life of neglect and humiliation . . . As shocking as they are, they're unfortunately not all that rare."
Unlike his counterparts in Alberta, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and the Yukon, Marin doesn't have the power to directly investigate Ontario's publicly funded long-term care homes.
Although Marin and others have been pushing unsuccessfully for the Liberals to extend his jurisdiction to include long-term care homes, Marin said in the meantime he can look at whether the Liberal government is holding the homes to account.
"The public is really wondering," he said. "People have expectations and it's an area that has to have full public confidence in order to operate properly."
Alan Findlay, spokesman for new Health Minister David Caplan, said Caplan had no comment Thursday on the prospect of an investigation by the ombudsman and had nothing to add to his earlier commitment to transparency.
Caplan has said the ministry focuses on the most egregious infractions that effect resident care and ensures those are corrected quickly. And while the proportion of homes still having difficulty meeting the standards hasn't changed, Caplan said the number of violations across Ontario has been steadily dropping thanks to increased investigations.
"I'm still learning about the specifics of the files and all of the actions that have been taken," Caplan said in an interview Wednesday. "First and foremost, the focus of the Ministry of Health is on the circumstances that effect direct patient care."
Janet Lambert, executive director of the Ontario Long-Term Care Association, said it doesn't make much financial sense for the ombudsman's office to investigate nursing homes when he receives so few complaints about resident care.
"I don't think public confidence is enhanced with an ombudsman," she said. "I think public confidence is enhanced with folks who see what they see and know what they know in a long-term care home."
But critics say an ombudsman's investigation is just what's needed to kickstart the Liberal government into improving the conditions in long-term care homes.
Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory said it's "insane" that three-quarters of Ontario's homes failed to meet some of the province's standards of care long after the Liberals promised a "revolution."
"There is certainly no question that Che Guevara and Fidel Castro don't have to worry about their place in history as revolutionaries alongside George Smitherman," Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory said in an interview.
"The revolution never happened . . . This is insane. We're spending billions of dollars on this and we say there are people out there in large numbers who don't have a toothbrush? All this stuff was the same stuff that was being written about in 2003."
New Democrat France Gelinas said she's thrilled Marin is looking at launching an investigation even though the Liberals have ruled out giving him full jurisdiction over the health-care sector. Marin's investigation would "shine a light on a sector of the health care system that has been kept in the dark for way too long."
There is no point in having some 400 standards to protect nursing home residents if they aren't being met, she added.
"There is a reason why the government put those standards in place - it's to protect the most vulnerable," said Gelinas, adding Caplan's lack of action is unacceptable. "He should be part of the people who are outraged that our most vulnerable are not getting the quality care that is set out in regulation."
Long-term care homes are expected to satisfy 400 rules relating to everything from what temperature food must be served at to ensuring a clean, safe and respectful environment for residents. Many of the province's standards relate to documentation and paperwork and more than one-third of Ontario's homes have been cited for administrative infractions.”


Let’s especially examine this quote from new health Minister David Caplan, the Liberal solely responsible for the government healthcare monopoly forced upon some thirteen million Ontarians:

- "I'm still learning about the specifics of the files and all of the actions that have been taken," Caplan said in an interview Wednesday.
STILL FLICKIN' LEARNING’ ?! How long will this transition last …'oh, hey, I’m new here, so…ah, bear with me…I’m trying to figure out what I’m doing…'’ IS THIS WHAT NOW PASSES FOR RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT? Buying time while people suffer in YOUR health-scare monopoly?

- "First and foremost, the focus of the Ministry of Health is on the circumstances that effect direct patient care." Yeah, and everyone else: you just gotta wait, cause we toldja so. Of course, no one knows what Liberals like Caplan exactly mean when he says the words “direct” or “effect” or “care”. It’s a meaningless placebo of Liberalese jibber-jabber - mellifluous, vague, unenforceable.

Will our Stealth MPP, the elusive Jim Bradley, our local Liberal champion of obfuscation, interpret for us what the new Liberal Czar of Health actually means? Does Jim even know?

Or is all this simply lost in translation? How many more Ontarians will suffer and die under McGuinty’s Not-Ready-For-Primetime Liberal government?

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