Sunday, March 30, 2008

Bumbledore Dion's Amazing Liberal POOP-O-GRAMS

The Amazing Bumbledore, aka Liberal leader Stephane Dion, in early March 2008 has again proven worthy of his title. The Liberal Prince of Prevarication huffs and puffs his rhetoric, but when it’s time to put up or shut up, well, as a typical Liberal, he tries to bluff his way around doing both; but obviously he doesn’t even take his own puffery seriously. He doesn’t put himself up for an election, given, as Dion claims, that the sitting government is so bad. Yet Bumbeldore continues, time after insufferable time, not to shut up about how terribly unhappy he is with the current minority, either!

Bumbledore’s train-wreck of a Liberal opposition folded on Afghanistan, after posturing mightily that they wanted the troops out. They folded on ‘Gas Tank McTeague’s’ devious little RESP bluster. Despite turning their noses up at it, Liberals didn’t even bother to challenge the government’s budget!! (The saying 'they folded like a cheap lawn chair' has been updated; the saying now is: "Folded like a Dion Liberal."

On Mar.3, 2008, only 7 Liberals showed up in the House of Commons to vote on THEIR OWN amendments to the budget! If Liberals had bothered to show up for the Mar.3 confidence vote - on the very amendments they themselves introduced – then Canada would have had an election – allowing Bumbledore and his carnival of Not Ready For Prime Time Grits the opportunity to (again) put up or shut up and prove to Canadians that they can govern.

Then, on Mar. 4, 2008, unbelievably, only 11 Liberals showed up to vote on the final confidence vote on the federal budget!

And now that Bob Rae (the NDP ghoul from Ontario’s dark, disastrous socialist past who has resurrected himself as a Liberal) is (shudder) an MP, both Bumbledore and Canadians should watch their backs, and their wallets. Beware the Ides of March.

In the Toronto Star (Mar.27, 2008) former-Conservative-converted-to-Liberal MP Garth Turner derides “Tory poop-o-grams” when referring to the so-called ‘10 per-center’ flyers that all MP’s can send to their or other ridings. The Star revels in Turner’s language.

Yet, the Grits also send their own Liberal Poop-O-Grams; I recently received another smelly missive which outlined the Liberal's supposed-concern with “manufacturing”: this time, the Liberal’s crapola didn’t even have Dion’s face on it!

Apparently, the Liberals are trying to now put out their message without reminding Canadians of who the Liberals chose as their leader! (Because he might not be there much longer?)

Read: Buzz off, Dion
Read: Fantasy Liberal throne speech shows Bumbledore Dion's not a contender
Read: Bumbledore Dion puts foot in mouth again
Read: Stephane Bumbledore Dion's real Kyoto record
Read: Ballyhoo from Bali: Kyodiot rhetoric meets reality

Turner also whines about how he had to wait three weeks to use a Commons printer…perhaps Turner should help nationalize the printing industry in Canada, so that he can speed up the process of universal access to printing: much like his adopted Liberals did with monopoly health-care. Then, Turner can wait three months just to get an interview with a printer.

Garth doesn’t get it: Dion’s no leader. Quebec can tell him that.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Niagara Falls, Then and Now: Sand Plant Hill

Below, taken by R. Bobak on Sept.22, 2004: Looking southward, uphill, along the Niagara Falls-bound QEW at the old CN railroad overpass on Sand Plant Hill (between St. Catharines and Niagara Falls, Ontario, near Warner Rd. and the 'Screaming Tunnel') The four-lane QEW was always frighteningly narrow and restrictive at this particular railroad bridge, seen still in use at the left as preparations were being made for the eventual QEW widening and new rail overpass.
Above: view from same spot on Mar.28, 2008. The new bridge allowed room for six-lanes plus shoulders underneath, and a separate pedestrian bridge was also built directly beside it on the Niagara Falls (south) side of the railway bridge
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Below: Jun.21, 2007, taken by R. Bobak. Niagara Falls Hilton hotel addition under construction (looking from corner of Murray St. and Stanley Ave. towards the Niagara River) Formerly on this site was a stand-alone Denny's restaurant on the corner of Fallsview Blvd. and Murray St.
Below: same view, Sept.14, 2007 by R. Bobak.
Above: same view; progress as of Mar.28, 2008
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Below: Niagara Fallsview Casino under construction in Nov. 2002 (taken by R. Bobak from corner of Fallsview Blvd. and Dixon St.)
Above: same view Mar.28, 2008. Tips of Skylon Tower and the Fallsview hotel tower are visible above parking structure in foreground.
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Below: Taken by R. Bobak, Nov. 2002, from corner of Fallsview Blvd. and Dixon St, looking towards Embassy Suites under construction; also Oakes hotel at left side of photo was being expanded.
Above: same view, Mar.28, 2008. Building with white columns (former restaurant seen above on right of photo) is now gone.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

No GO Transit for Niagara - again. Jim Bradley and his GO promises are MIA

I was watching Dan McLean on CH News at 6pm (Mar.25, 2008), when he interviewed Liberal Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, just after the Ontario Liberal's budget was announced. McLean specifically asked Duncan about GO Transit and whether there would be GO Train or even bus service to St. Catharines. Good ol' Dunc rubbed his nose a little bit, then spent the whole time of his answer not answering the question. Liberal Dwight Duncan did not specifically answer McLean's question. Duncan specifically avoided saying anything about GO Transit and St. Catharines. Liberal Dwight Duncan has made Liberal Transportation Minister Jim Bradley (who is from St. Catharines and who on more than one occasion promised to bring GO Trains to Niagara) in all practicality, a liar. But who cares: Jim won the election is all that matters. His lies are in hibernation, to be awakened just in time for the next election. It works like a charm.

New Alberta Health Minister seeks quick reforms

Don Braid wrote in “New health minister all straight talk and action”, (Calgary Herald, Mar.14, 2008):

"Just before Christmas, Ron Liepert told me he believes health care is a looming mega-problem that will soon dwarf all others -- royalties, housing, labour, the works.
Liepert figured he was having a pretty easy time as education minister, announcing new schools and seeking a pension deal with the teachers.
The guy didn't have a clue he'd be health minister within three months.
Now he is, and Alberta is going to get a full dose of Ron Liepert. It's strong medicine. Liepert is a forceful guy who will say exactly what he's thinking.
That hasn't changed since I first knew him nearly 30 years ago when he was in the legislature as a TV reporter.
He startled everybody one day in 1980 by taking a job as Premier Peter Lougheed's press secretary.
Some reporters didn't like it when he went over the wall to the premier's office; but as time passed, I never saw evidence that he either gave a damn or held a grudge.
Liepert was good at his job. He and Lougheed developed a bad cop, good cop routine that kept reporters off balance. Not much escaped from the legislature if they wanted it to stay under wraps.
Today, Liepert remains impervious to media or opposition criticism. He only cares what his boss thinks and what the public thinks.
As education minister, for instance, Liepert calculated that the people who wanted new schools in their communities didn't care if they were built as P3s.
So he plunged in where other ministers feared to tread, braving the opposition blast. He might have saved thousands of Calgary votes for his party in the March 3 election.
Even before Liepert was sworn in Thursday, he was shaking up the health-care debate, alluding to the Mazankowski report and raising fears of privatization that are likely overblown.
But he's been doing that for months. One reason Premier Ed Stelmach gave him the job, he told me Thursday, "is that I kept saying health care was a big problem so he asked me if I wanted the chance to do something about it."
Other ministers are more reticent. They won't even get their mandate letters from Stelmach until next week. Nobody's going to say much until the premier tells them what to do -- except Liepert.
He and Stelmach have already talked. Their basic goal is to squeeze more value out of the system while improving access for patients.
This doesn't mean overall spending cuts, or even a halt to spending hikes. Stelmach knows those goals are impossible with a population that's both growing and aging.
Liepert and Stelmach both said Thursday that private health measures aren't a big part of their thinking. The premier, in one of his more striking phrases, pledged that Ralph Klein's old Third Way plan, whatever it meant, is dead on arrival.
Like Stelmach, Liepert is no right-wing idealogue. But he won't rule out the possibility of some private elements to the solutions he comes up with.
"We already have plenty of private things in the system," he says. "This doesn't mean I want an American-style private system, though -- absolutely not."
Liepert will shake up health care, no doubt about that. He'll try to re-establish central control and strive to make the regions accountable for spending. There will be tough reforms aimed at improving access and efficiency.
Most of all, he's going to drive the agenda at warp speed, without any more studies or commissions.
During the uproar that's coming, Liepert will be Ed Stelmach's heat shield.
He'll take all the blasts himself without ever losing a night's sleep; it's his old talent, employed at a somewhat higher level.”

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It’s good to see the sensible Mazankowski Report being talked about again. Here’s hoping that Liepert and Stelmach can find and deliver results for Alberta, and maybe set a model for the rest of Canada.

However, they should also keep in mind that their great plans for any real reform have to take into account the concept of health-care competition, not more heavy-handed centralized health-care monopolization.

People should know and trust that government will not lower their coverage, while also increasing their taxes at the same time, as Dalton McGuinty's Ontario Liberals have done since 2004.

Government has to take its paternalistic hand out of the health-care consumer's pocket - and keep it out. If the state introduces more competition through privatization (how else will it occur?), it cannot correspondingly maintain its previous tax structure as well!

While people need time to get weaned off their long forced dependence on the government-monopoly-medicare model, government will also have to wean itself off of its dependence as the sole clearing-house of our health-care cash.

Giving up their tax-fix is anathema to many good-intentioned governments.

'Code Orange' health-care alert in Ontario

Bill Tieleman wrote in “Sound the alarm on the B.C. gov’t”, (24 Hours Vancouver website, Mar.25, 2008):

“It's time to put patient care first. To do that, we must renew public health care, through better management, adequate funding, proper staffing and sound strategic planning. - Premier Gordon Campbell, 2001 election platform
What a long, sad gap there is between the B.C. Liberals' lofty health-care goals of 2001 and the grim reality of March 12, 2008.
That's when Surrey Memorial Hospital declared a Code Orange alert, cancelling all non-emergency surgeries because of massive emergency room overcrowding, calling in off-duty doctors and keeping health-care workers on overtime.
Code Orange is extremely rare, reserved for emergencies with mass casualties, like earthquakes or floods. A Code Orange was declared last year when a small aircraft crashed into a Richmond highrise.
But not this time. It was because Surrey's congested hospital had 41 patients admitted in the ER and not one bed free. And it also happened in January.
Then there's Code Purple - an overcapacity alert just below Code Orange requiring other nearby hospitals to provide resources.
On March 10, Kelowna General Hospital issued a Code Purple because it already had 176 patients in the emergency ward instead of an average 140.
And there's New Westminster's Royal Columbian Hospital, where, on February 12, the fire inspector ordered the emergency room cleared due to overcrowding.
That was the day of B.C.'s throne speech, which promised the government "will act to improve health care" and mentioned the word "health" 84 different times.
So you just might think all these alerts would alarm B.C. Liberal Health Minister George Abbott. Wrong.
"Anyone who thinks that the problem is going to go away is dreaming," Abbott actually told reporters, saying patients would have to get used to it.
"A lot of this demand is driven by a society that gets older, year over year, and is going to continue to do so," Abbott said. "This is going to be challenging for about the next 40 years, until the post-World War II baby boomers make their way through [the health-care system]."
Challenging for 40 years? Is Abbott kidding? Why should patients put up with substandard health care for four decades?
The B.C. Liberals have had seven years to deal with health-care problems. In their 2001 election platform, they even said: "Emergency rooms are overflowing in B.C."
Overflowing? Now overflowing emergency rooms prompt alerts reserved for floods!
And what has the government done? Closed St. Mary's Hospital in New Westminster with no replacement. Failed to meet a 2001 promise of 5,000 new long-term care beds by 2006. Closed acute care beds, causing increased waiting lists for surgery.
We need a Code Orange alright - for an incompetent, uncaring B.C. Liberal government that needs to hear the alarm.”

Tieleman’s above article from British Columbia follows on my similar earlier posts from an Ontario perspective:
State-run monopoly health-care should be illegal (Mar.24, 2008)
Sadistic Liberal health-care in Ontario (Mar.19, 2008)
Liberal "health-card" doesn't equal "health-care". (Mar.14, 2008)
Ludicrous Liberal two-tier health-care (Mar.12, 2008)
Doing our best not be bruised by the velvet fist of socialized medicare (Mar.12, 2008)

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Lofty Liberal government health-care promises yielding disastrous health-care… seems like a familiar pattern, a standard template, no matter where Liberals ply their trade: this could just as well be a story about Ontario’s Liberal-run health-system; the promises and the problems are the same.

My arrogant Ontario Liberal MPP, Jim Bradley (St. Catharines), refuses to answer when I ask about his health system’s continual failures. Why should Ontarians put up with his Liberal government’s sub-standard health-care for five years?

In 2003, Ontario Liberals yelped about costs and emergency rooms and wait times and emergency beds and ambulance services and long-term beds and nursing shortages and on and on: yet Ontario’s system has not become better after five years of Liberal health monopoly rule. The 2003 Ontario election was filled with false Liberal health-care and environmental promises!! In the 2007 election, they said little about their broken health-care and environmental promises.

I can envision Ontario’s Liberal Health Minister George Smitherman saying the same things along the line of B.C.’s Abbott: Yep, folks:

'the problem with health-care is YOU people - you’re getting older!! So, just stop it, you baby-boomer cohort of millions, from whom we’ve been collecting health taxes for years!! What did you people expect from us, anyhow – actual health-care when you got older and really needed it?! C’mon: we have no contract with you…we run a socio-economic experimental health monopoly…and by the way, we’re not directly accountable or held liable for the health-care promises which you mistakenly assumed we might have appeared to have made! We deal in political medicare ideology, not health-care delivery! We report to Tommy Douglas, not to actual patients!'

These Liberals are UN-FLICKING real; they’ve taken our money for health-care promises which they never intended to really keep, did they?

We need a Code Orange Alert in Ontario as well – for an incompetent, arrogant, and deceptive Ontario government practising Liberal health care duplicity.
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Monday, March 24, 2008

State-run monopoly health-care should be illegal

R. Bobak wrote in "Forced dependence on government health care is immoral and should be illegal", (St. Catharines Standard, Mar.24, 2008):

"Re: Doctors could have performed surgeries at other hospitals, Health Ministry says, The Standard, March 13.

Just three months ago, Ontario auditor Jim McCarter reported serious concerns regarding surgery wait times in Ontario's Liberal-run health system that included about 40 per cent of hospital operating rooms not being used during nine weeks in the summer of 2006.

He also said surgical facilities are frequently closed on weekends and during the Christmas holidays and March Break.

The report found the operating rooms were closed because of vacation staffing schedules.

The audit also showed that, despite government focus on surgical wait times, Ontario has no idea how many operating rooms the province has, nor does it have adequate information on how many patients are waiting for specific surgeries.

Astoundingly, during the October 2007 election campaign, the Liberals downplayed that there were any problems with their health monopoly! But now, during March Break 2008, we hear that some 190 Niagara patients had their elective surgeries cancelled.

Didn't the Liberal government know or heed any of the warnings contained in the auditor's report? Did the Liberals warn any of these patients that the availability of their health care was subject to previously-reported systemic risks within their government-run monopoly? Did the government bother to arrange alternative care for these patients?

Can't these patients collectively and justifiably launch a class-action lawsuit against the Ministry of Health, alleging that the government knew, or reasonably should have known, that it would not be able to deliver upon the health-care promises it makes?

Not only were these Niagara patients preyed upon by the Liberal's bait-and-switch routine (they were promised health-care, but were given a health-care waiting list), but they were also prohibited by the very same Liberal government from arranging for their own health care should the government monopoly fail to deliver - as it often does.

That kind of forced dependence is immoral, and should be illegal.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sadistic Liberal health-care in Ontario

I wonder if my MPP, St. Catharines Liberal Jim Bradley, has any public response to this letter, "Ministry of Health does little while it plays the blame game" (St. Catharines Standard, Mar.18, 2008) by Dr. Janice Willett, president of the Ontario Medical Association:

"Re: Doctors could have performed surgeries at other hospitals, Health Ministry says, The Standard, March 13.

It's disappointing to see the Minister of Health's spokesperson take such a short-sighted approach to the situation at the Niagara Health System.

Instead of working with the hospital and local doctors and nurses to implement solutions to fix the shortage of health professionals and lack of resources, the ministry has chosen to play the blame game. Unfortunately, this does little to address the reality of the problem and in no way improves access to care for patients.

It also diminishes the hard work and commitment local doctors have put forth to sustain medical care in the region. Frontline workers and the hospital administration should be applauded for working tirelessly to try to maintain access for patients.

When we see a breakdown in our health-care system, as we have seen in Niagara, Ontarians expect that the provincial government will become part of the solution. Instead, it has shown it has little understanding of the reality that moving surgical operations is not as simple as a game of musical chairs.

There are many factors involved in good surgical care, including pre-operative and post-operative diagnostics and treatment in order to ensure quality care and patient safety.

The provincial government has the opportunity to work with the hospital and the local doctors and nurses to develop sustainable, long-term solutions so the region can retain the doctors and nurses needed to provide care and patients can have access to the tests and treatments they need."

It’s astounding to see Bradley’s Ontario Liberals flounder for answers to justify the failures piling up in their socialized health-care system by trotting out that old David Peterson-era chestnut of ‘blame-the-doctors’ regarding the cancellation/postponement of some 190 surgeries in the Niagara Health System in mid-March 2008. I'm waiting to find out what Jim Bradley meant when he was quoted in a story saying he hates doctors? (See: Can Jim Bradley explain why he "stood up and said 'I hate doctors'"? )

I guess the Liberal Commitment To The Future Of Medicare Act has nothing to do with the shortages in Ontario's health system? (Maybe the Liberals should rename that Draconian health monopolist legislation of theirs ‘The Condemnation of Healthcare Act’)

The story in this case is that there weren’t enough nurses in Niagara to assist in the surgeries, as John Robbins wrote in “Surgeries postponed”, (Osprey News, Mar.12, 2008) Of course, we just came off an election campaign where the Liberals claimed they had hired 8,000 nurses? Where are they?

A headline in Niagara This Week (Mar.19, 2008) read “Surgery postponements could lead to NHS Review:Craitor. Public needs to be reassured, MPP says.

Look, if the death rate within the NHS (at the St. Catharines General Hospital - third highest in Canada in a Nov.2007 CIHI study) wasn't serious enough for Niagara Falls MPP Kim Craitor or his colleague in the next riding over in St. Catharines, Jim Bradley, to call for an immediate arm’s length INVESTIGATION of their health monopoly, why should anyone take seriously these spittin’-in-the-wind calls for some half-baked review, this time due to ‘surgery postponements’?! Especially seeing that Craitor has ALREADY, to no obvious benefit, ANNOUNCED THIS REVIEW SEVERAL TIMES BEFORE!

These Liberals pretend that the health monopoly which they control is fine – and then dance around the obvious evidence of its failures! Patients need to be reassured that the answer to better health-care in Ontario is NOT MORE GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION!

John Robbins wrote in “Break up the NHS”, (Niagara Falls Review, Sept.27, 2007):
“"I don't think Bart [Maves, then-Conservative candidate] has a clue about health care," said Craitor. "He's living in a utopia. To fix the existing hospitals (across Ontario) and to build the new ones we need, never mind what he's talking about, is about $8 billion."
Craitor said he was opposed to hospital restructuring in Niagara when Maves was MPP and he was a city councillor. Since he was elected MPP in 2003, said Craitor, he has tried to work with within the system the Tories created, but for sometime has felt the issue of hospital governance needs to be revisited.
During an all-candidates meeting in Fort Erie Tuesday evening, Craitor described the NHS as "too big and too complicated" to be efficiently managed.
On Wednesday, Craitor went farther, saying the solution to ongoing concerns about service delivery may be to split up the health system into smaller parts or even return to the previous model whereby each community hospital is independently governed.
"It's quite possible," said Craitor. "Maybe (the hospitals) have to go back to the communities."”

Maybe Craitor can actually get to the next plane of consciousness and realize that Ontario's hospitals and health-care system should not be monopolized by the State!

Craitor knows and has heard, as he himself says, of the problems in his health monopoly. Yet, his answer is to decentralize the NHS, creating more unaccountable government health-care fiefdoms??? And where is Craitor, who actually is the one living in a fantastically-unworkable health-care Utopia of his own Liberal party’s making, going to get the money for all of that duplication of services? Will the “communities” still get their health-cashola from the local Liberal franchise holder of the state purse-string? Liberals can’t fund one system properly – how is breaking it up going to help: more administrators? More real estate and maintenance costs? More contracts to Liberal lapdogs in the public-funded-health consultant industry? Will it really result in more doctors, nurses, and better patient service?

I don’t believe so. The problem is accountability between the system and the client-patients it serves – there is none. Ontario's Liberal single-payer-enforcing government has set itself up as the sole arbiter of health care in this province, yet, when problems arise, nothing effective is done about it: the 190 patients in Niagara being yet another example of the monopoly health system’s unaccountable, systemic failures.

As Anne Atkinson , a Niagara Health System V.P. said regarding the surgery cancellation/postponements for the 190 affected people (in "Nurse shortage blamed for 190 cancelled operations", Osprey News, March 13, 2008) patients should contact their physicians directly - not the hospital - if they have concerns about the status of their surgical procedures! Yep: go bother your doctor, not us! We're just a government-funded hospital system administering Liberal monopolistic no-choice health-care policies!
What are patients supposed to do in this bizarre - yet utterly predictable - Liberal health-care monopoly scenario?

The option for Ontarians to concurrently provide for themselves with private insurance when the government fails to deliver, is outlawed. So we are stuck in an endless circle of victimization by a paternalistic Liberal government forcing its monopolistic health-care ideology upon Ontario patients; meanwhile, we have no other alternatives to the government’s plodding, money-sucking, no-other-choice system.

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

“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."”

Isn't it interesting how Bradley, in that 2007 interview, referred to 2001 – but not to any events since 2003, when his Liberals ran the system as a majority government and could have added the beds!! Or is Bradley just being deceptively coy, referring to long-term rather than emergency beds?
(Notice reporter Mayer didn't bother to ask Ole Jimmy about that. Isn't Ole Liberal Jimmy a "local decision-maker"?!! )

Also, let’s not forget this report by James Wallace, “More hospital beds not in the cards: premier”, (St. Catharines Standard, Sept. 30, 2006):

“Premier Dalton McGuinty has poured cold water on a call by Ontario doctors to create more hospital beds to ease emergency room overcrowding.
McGuinty, in an exclusive interview with Osprey News yesterday, said emergency room doctors "got our attention," but deflected questions about funding additional beds to alleviate wait times.
"There is no easy magic solution to be found when it comes to addressing all of the challenges faced in our emergency rooms," he said.”

Well, here we are - two years and a provincial election later - and it’s as if nothing has changed. Apparently the Liberal magic solution is their stubborn insistence to impose monopoly medicare onto 13 million Ontarians!

Bed shortages are also causing delays in the system. Again, the evidence isn’t new – the Liberals have known of this problem for years!

John Robbins wrote in “Pressures mount for NHS: Bed shortage forces health system to postpone some elective surgeries” (Jan.5, 2007, Osprey News):

“Patients shuffled between hospitals.
Surgical procedures booked weeks or months in advance postponed, including six this week.
Ambulances lined up at emergency department doors waiting to off-load patients.
Front-line hospital staff working overtime.
Administrators scrambling to find beds.
These are the symptoms of a chronic problem facing the health-care system in Niagara: too many frail, elderly people needing care and too few nursing home beds for them, hospital officials say.”

Then there is Robbins’ story “Craitor pitches NHS review.Falls MPP to discuss concerns over management of system with health minister” (Osprey News, Dec.5, 2007):

“"We have spoken with (Niagara) MPPs a number of times about financial concerns," [NHS chair Betty-Lou] Souter said. "We're confident that (Craitor's) request for a review is to ensure that the NHS receives the resources it requires to operate a multi-site hospital and to provide the services we deserve in Niagara."
Souter said many of the problems patients and hospital staff deal with on a daily basis are provincewide issues, such as a chronic nursing shortage, as well as problems that stem from the shortage of long-term-care beds in the community.
"It's a challenge every day for the people on the front lines that have to deal with this," Souter said.
"They have no beds and they have these critical patients in the hallways and there's a bed (occupied) by some poor soul that's been waiting for how long to get into long-term care and can't.”

Bed shortages and hospital hallways acting as waiting rooms - yet the Liberals blithely insist there are no connections! If funding is an issue now, then it has been an issue long enough for the Liberals to stop blaming other governments and take responsibility for what has happened in Ontario health care since 2003 under their watch. The NHS has said it needs funding…Bradley said he’d approve more beds…where are the beds…the nurses…the doctors….the funding…the promised Utopian single-payer universality which we were all supposedly to have in Ontario? The Liberals imposed a new Health Tax that has brought in some 10 billion dollars to the Liberals – but they didn’t spend all of it exclusively on health care – they used it for other government expenses as well.

Brad Waters of the Toronto paramedics union said on Mar.19, 2008 that the 911 system in Toronto has failed because ambulances are forced to wait so long in hospital emergency hallways with patients, that they cannot respond to other calls.

In a Mar.19, 2008 interview on CFRB with Bill Carroll, Michael O’Mahoney, president of the Sick Children’s Hospital Foundation in Toronto, said “we don’t have enough money” and “we don’t have enough MRI’s”.

Yet, McGuinty's Liberals deny that they’re underfunding health care! The Liberals spent our tax money in 2004 actually confiscating private existing MRI’s in Ontario, rather than using tax funds for more MRI’s in places like Sick Kids!

The skewed priorities and excuses emanating from this sorry Liberal government are inexcusable. Health minister George Smitherman already admitted several years ago that his provincial government can’t “do it all” (James Wallace, “Finding a cure: RX: series for health care", St. Catharines Standard, Aug.11, 2005)

The sadistic part is neither he, nor Craitor, nor Bradley, will concede that their health monopoly is a colossal failure which is hurting patients.
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Sunday, March 16, 2008

"Smitherman's a frickin' jerk" reader says

Peter Downs wrote in “NHS finds it’s not alone in the red. Niagara Health System among province’s 75 hospitals facing deficits next fiscal; year.” (St. Catharines Standard, Mar.14, 2008):

“The NHS is among 75 of the province's 154 hospitals that the Ontario Hospital Association says are facing deficits next fiscal year.
That number is projected to rise to 104 the following year, according to the association.
"I didn't know it was that high," NHS board chairwoman Betty-Lou Souter said Thursday. "This just reaffirms that we are not unique."

Premier Dalton McGuinty said during the last election campaign, one-half of Ontario's entire budget is spent in just one department – the Ministry of Health. And now we hear reports that half of Ontario’s hospitals are running deficits, and more are expected to next year. And, if we remember that McGuinty in Oct.2007, promised (again) not to raises taxes…what are the Liberals going to do with this financial crunch?

Downs further reports: “Under new legislation, the provincial government prohibits hospitals from running deficits.
But the OHA contends the province doesn't provide hospitals enough base funding to account for increasing expenses, such as higher wage and energy costs.
The association maintains the province would have to invest an additional $1.2 billion to bring the spending on Ontario hospitals to a level equivalent to hospitals across the country.
Health Minister George Smitherman dismissed the OHA's predictions that nearly half of Ontario's hospitals are facing illegal deficits.
Smitherman wouldn't rule out cuts at cash-strapped hospitals as they scramble to avoid red ink.
"What is a cut?" Smitherman said after announcing a $100-million plan to add a new prescription drug to the province's publicly funded list.
"If a hospital alters its administration and some people are exited from that environment, is that a cut? No, I don't think so."
Some hospitals are reportedly contemplating service cuts to avoid running deficits.
But Smitherman pointed out that such doom-and-gloom predictions are common around budget time, when many groups are competing for more cash."

Isn’t it astounding to watch Smitherman slither around the definition of "cut"?!

When Smitherman asks “What is a cut?”, I’m reminded of President Clinton’s famous ‘what is the definition of “is”’ routine. Smitherman used the word “cut” many times when he was in opposition. What did he mean then, when he was saying "cut"??

The Liberals loved to allege that Harris cut health-care spending, yet Thomas Walkom wrote in “Liberal health care record withers under microscope”, (Toronto Star, Sept.15, 2007) that the Liberal's own “health-care tax revenues aren't necessarily spent on the province's roughly $38 billion annual bill for doctors, hospitals and drugs.
That has been the case with the McGuinty tax. Finance ministry figures show that the Liberal government raised $9.3 billion from their new tax between 2003 and 2007. But during the same period, health spending rose by only $8.5 billion.
The remaining $800 million went to pay bills incurred by the roughly $88 billion the government spends each year.
Curiously, health spending has increased at a slower rate under the Liberals than it did during the last years of the Tory regime. Between 1999 and 2003, the Tories increased the amount they devoted to health care by $8.7 billion, or 43 per cent. Between 2003 and 2007, and in spite of their new tax, the Liberals boosted health spending by just 30 per cent.”

It is good old George Smitherman who has cut health spending, all the while pretending he hasn't! It is his Liberals who have accumulated a sad track record of health-care duplicity since 2003!

Downs wrote: “Rather than dealing directly with the Health Ministry for more dollars, hospitals must negotiate with Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs).
Under a new funding structure set up by the province, the Health Ministry provides health-care dollars to LHINs, which will in turn decide how much to provide hospitals in their territories.
Souter said the NHS is involved in negotiations with the Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand, Brant LHIN leading up to the end of the fiscal year.”

Oh, yes: let’s not forget the LHINS…another Liberal parallel health-bureaucracy, set up and funded by the Liberal government with Liberal-appointed boards, which are now supposedly going to play the role of bad-cop to Smitherman’s supposed good-cop routine, forcing hospitals to ration their Liberal-given budgets! These LHINS are transparently nothing more than a layered punching bag to insulate and protect the Liberals from actual direct accountability!

By the way, on the Windsor Star website, Mar.12, 2008, "OUR HEALTHCARE SUCKS" posted this visceral, vernacular response to Smitherman's ignoring cancer patient Sylvia de Vries: "SMITHERMAN'S A FRICKIN' JERK. NEVER DID LIKE THAT IDIOT. THEY DON'T WANT YOU TO SEEK MEDICAL CARE IN THE U.S. BECAUSE THEY WOULD RATHER SEE YOU DIE. IF IT WERE HIM OR A RELATIVE, THEY'D GET THE BEST CARE AVAILABLE AND IMMEDIATELY!!!!!"

Friday, March 14, 2008

Liberal "health-card" doesn't equal "health-care".

In “Doctors could have performed surgeries at other hospitals, Health Ministry says”, the St. Catharines Standard (Mar.13, 2008) reported that our local monopoly health-care franchise, the NHS (Niagara Health System), “announced a “20% reduction in the elective surgery caseload at the hospital from March 17 to May 2. This decision to perform fewer operations could affect as many as 190 patients waiting for a variety of pre-scheduled, non-emergency procedures.”

Interesting, isn't it, how the Ministry of Health also quickly assigned blame onto doctors, as the Standard reported, by claiming that the postponement list at the Greater Niagara General Hospital in Niagara Falls is longer than it should be because “surgeons “rejected” the idea of operating on their patients at other Niagara Hospitals.

Forget about asking (or proving) whether any of the other NHS hospitals themselves were even prepared and able to assume this patient load…where specifically were these patients to go?? Welland? Pt. Colborne? St. Catharines? Grimsby? Hamilton? Toronto?

Why not just state the obvious and include Buffalo, then, as well. Or does Health Minister George Smitherman, whose system is so ready to shunt patients around, ‘reject’ that solution? Today, it’s elective surgery which the Liberals can’t deliver…what’ll it be tomorrow, a shortage of emergency surgeries?

Such blatant “fobbing off”, (as MPP Jim Bradley used to say), of the Health Ministry’s own policy failures under the stewardship of Captain Smitherman (or Mr. Medicare, as he fancies himself) reminds me of the attacks and doctor-bashing practised by the Ontario's David Peterson Liberal government in the 1980’s. (See: Can Jim Bradley explain why he "stood up and said 'I hate doctors'"?) I hope this Liberal 'blame the doctor' tactic isn’t rearing its ugly head again: it got the Liberals a lot of votes back then, didn’t it?

The Standard’s Mar.13, 2008 report also reminds me of the Ontario Auditor’s findings of just several months ago, which were already reporting indications of systemic closures and shortages through-out Ontario’s health-care monopoly, for extended periods of time.

In: Ombudsman must investigate Liberal health monopoly, (Dec.30, 2007) I wrote about this CTV report detailing the Ontario Auditor’s findings:

““Another concern raised in the annual audit surrounded wait times for surgeries. McCarter said about 40 per cent of hospital operating rooms were not being used during nine weeks in the summer of 2006. He also said surgical facilities are frequently closed on weekends and during the Christmas holidays and March Break. The report found vacation staffing schedules were behind the closed operating rooms. The audit also showed that despite government focus on surgical wait times, Ontario has no idea how many operating rooms the province has or adequate information on how many patients are waiting for specific surgeries.” [from report by Paul Bliss, CTV News, Dec. 12, 2007]
As if the above is not enough, add recent reports that the main hospital in Jim Bradley’s riding of St. Catharines has been found to have abnormally high patient death rates - which apparently wasn’t enough for Jim Bradley to immediately call for an inquiry.”

The Ontario Liberals and Premier Dalton McGuinty still have not responded to those findings. During the election, the Liberals pretended that there were no problems in their health-monopoly. (Let's not forget that the Auditor found health-care shortages occurred in 2006 during March break - and now, during March break 2008, it's happening again.)

Isn’t the experience of these 190 patients yet another concrete example of Liberal health-care duplicity, right in Niagara, where Liberal health-care promises made, were government promises not kept?

Can’t these 190 patients collectively launch a class action lawsuit against the Ministry of Health?

Did any of these patients actually have an enforceable contract with their government-run health-care system? Were they correct in assuming, or expecting, that they were actually going to receive the health-care promised by the McGuinty Liberal’s system? Or were they mistaken to assume that Liberal health-care rhetoric was the same thing as actual health-care provision? Was there some implict guarantee of receiving health-care from our government-run health monopoly? If so, is that a guarantee of anything at all?

What choice, recourse, or compensation was given to these patients? Aside from the patronizing political rhetoric, essentially these patients were told to lump it and wait. Yeah…you got an Ontario health card…but you got no Ontario health-care.

Shouldn’t the defendants be the Government of Ontario, and each Liberal MPP now sitting in that majority government? Should these politicians be personally shielded from accountability when their policies go haywire? Should these politicians be held harmless for not delivering what they promised? (Or is that, what they appeared to promise? In which case: they delivered exactly what they promised: an illusion of health-care, but not actual health-care!)

Should these politicians be immune to the hardships their policies cause patients? Weren’t these politicians (through their own government policies) negligent with providing necessary health-care; and, fraudulent, with their endless promises to do so? Taking on the burden, the mantle, of imposing and propagating a choice-denying health-monopoly, and then, failing to provide upon that obligation, is immoral, and should also be illegal.

Perhaps only after such a lawsuit is heard, can all Ontarians be armed with a specific legal definition next time any vote-buying politician of any stripe prefaces the phrase “health-care” with the vague assumptions embodied within words such as “universal”, or “two-tier”, or “single-payer”, or “timely”, or "covered", or “quality”, or “necessary”.

As it now stands, such loose, fluid, ambiguous “definitions” allow politicians incredible leeway to bamboozle us with their unaccountable, undeliverable health-care promises.

It’s one reason why Ontarians should pay attention to the health-care Charter challenges launched in 2007 by Mr. Lindsay McCreith and Ms. Shona Holmes. This may turn out to be Ontario’s health-care equivalent to Quebec’s Chaoulli decision.

As for these 190 inconvenienced Niagara patients – instead of not giving a shit, Mr. Smitherman should give them a chit which is redeemable in Quebec or the States so that they can get on with their treatment – with no mandatory grovelling at HSARB, either. Until Smitherman’s Liberal system can provide actual health-care when such care is demanded of it, this minister will have to set his rhetoric aside and allow these patients access to health-care elsewhere, where it is available. In any case, we are paying for this Liberal health-care fiasco, one way or another.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Buildings Lost and Found (Part TWELVE) Streetcars for Niagara Falls

[click on photos to enlarge]
Above: Showing the close proximity of the two railroad bridges crossing the Niagara River gorge, as seen from Niagara Falls, Ont. Canada, looking east towards Niagara Falls, N.Y., U.S.A. to the left (north) is the former Grand Trunk railway bridge, now owned by CN Rail; the tracks are still in daily use, for freight and passenger traffic. The VIA rail station, where Amtrack trains also stop, is just on the other side of this bridge after entering Canada. On the deck below is where passenger vehicles can cross the border. The bridge on the right is the old Michigan Central railroad bridge, from which once began the Canadian portion of the great Michigan Central train route from New York to Detroit, and beyond. This route also had a station right after entering Canada from the bridge - the Michigan Central station was on the south-east corner of Queen St. and Erie Ave., right across Queen St. from where the old Rosberg's department store building still stands. The line ran along a residential parkway before stopping at another station, on the corner of Clifton Hill and Victoria Ave., right in the heart of the tourist district. On the corner where this station once stood is now the Ripley's attraction. This line continued through the city till it reached what was once called the Fallsview station, which is the area right below the famous Loretto abbey. This spot, to this day, is probably the best location to view Niagara Falls from a high natural setting. It's all surrounded by high-rise hotel towers now, but the view from the rail right-of-way is still unparalleled, and it was a big bonus in the days of train travel - the Michigan Central prominently advertised this panoramic view that passengers would see looking down over the Horseshoe Falls and Upper Niagara River. It was a company policy for these normally-express (was bullet-train used back then?!) trains stop for some twenty minutes for passengers to take in the view. This unique Fallsview station, also known as Inspiration Point, was for viewing only - no passengers could board or disembark here. The turn of the century (I mean from 1999 on!) brought changes to this route - a second casino was planned for Niagara Falls, which was partially constructed on the old Michigan track right-of-way. The tracks were torn out from the bridge all the way to the old Fallsview viewing station below Loretto abbey. The city celebrated the fact that the tracks were finally removed, as the common perception was that the frequent long and ponderously slow freight trains were an ungainly eyesore running smack dab at all hours through the tourist district. The whole railway line, just over 200 miles, was decommissioned and abandoned, from the border at the Niagara Falls bridge, through the farmlands of Southern Ontario, all the way to the border again at Windsor/Detroit. The tracks that Michigan Central built throughout its South Ontario run were well-engineered straight runs, where steam locomotives used to cannonball towards Detroit setting speed records!

Above: Top photo, Apr.18, 2008 - Bridge St., (west side) between Erie St. and Zimmerman Ave. The old Hotel Trennick (on Bridge and Erie) can be seen at the right of both photos. The dark stone wall beside the sidewalk seen in both photos, bottom left, is part of the Federal building on Bridge St. The building formerly called the Empire House still stands. These hotels served travellers utilizing the railroad station which was directly across the street.
Below: Apr.18, 2008 - looking along the east side of Erie Ave., between Queen St. (which is further off to the right) and Park St. (off to the left)
Note the old Michigan Central railroad tracks still in the pavement in the forground, which once ran across Queen St. and across Erie Ave., and made their way on an odd, winding north-west course right through a residential area along the north side of Park St. towards Bridge St. and Victoria Ave., where it croseed that intersection right on the diagonal, continuing in a north-westerly direction. Several houses on Park Lane, west of Crysler Ave., actually had the train tracks right on their front lawn.


The previous photo above shows that today's restaurant building had once housed Clark's Hardware store, seen with the yellow hoarding. (In 1965, the proprietor was H. Clark Pattinson) The date of this photo is possibly in the 1970's. To the right of the restaurant today we see an empty lot, which was also seen vacant beside Clark's as well. In the photo above (date unknown, possibly 1950's) we see that there had been two buildings to the right of Clark's, whose sign is seen in both above shots. The closest building to Clark's has a sign painted on its window, but I can't make it out. Next to the right was a Rexall drugstore with the "cameras, lunches" and Coke "button" sign on it - this was a great location no doubt for the tourist trade, being within a block between two major railroad stations! The next building, at the far right, is the corner of today's Rosberg's department store, which has been boarded up for years, siting vacant since the late 1980's, on the north-east corner of Queen St. and Erie Ave. [update: the Rosbergs burned down in Oct. 2009] Above two photos from the Niagara Falls library archive.

Above: both photos were taken standing on River Rd., looking south towards the Michigan Central bridge. Top photo taken Apr.18, 2008. Second photo shows the exact same spot with streetcars, from Niagara Falls Library archive (ca.1920's?). The building seen at the far right was on the site of the old Elgin hotel.

Below: South side of Bridge St. between River Rd. (at left) and Cataract. Ave. (at right), Apr.16, 2008. Note the large wall in the upper-left background: that is a barbed-wire-topped security barrier built on top of the bridge across the now-unused railway tracks to prevent pedestrians from crossing the U.S. -Canada border.

Above: same location as previously above, with streetcar in foreground. Note the same house chimney towards right side in both photos. Note there is a train on the Michigan Central bridge, at the rear left. (This is where the border security wall would be built years later) The barber shop is still in same location today (the second door, with the stripes, from right corner) The NS&T ticket office was through the first door (seen open) from the corner. That part is now closed up (as seen previously above) where the white siding is just to the left of the red wall. The streetcars in Niagara Falls vanished just after WWII, in the late forties. B and W photos from the Niagara Falls Library. The taller building at the upper-left was on the site of the Elgin hotel; this building could have also been known after WWII as the "Campbell apartments".
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Below: Apr.7, 2008, Niagara Falls, Ont., by R. Bobak. Bridge St. looking south-east towards Cataract Ave. and River Rd. in the distance. The now-unused Michigan Central railway bridge, which spans the Niagara Gorge from the U.S. to Canada, can be seen in the background at the left. The white building with the red side houses Tony's Barber Shop (4122 Bridge St.) and Simon's Restaurant (4116 Bridge St.), both good places, respectively, for a cut and a coffee! Tony D'Annibale has barbered in his shop since 1952; it had been established in 1922, and Tony apprenticed under then-owner George Todoroff. Tony closed the barber shop in July 2013.
Next door to Tony's, Simon's says it's the oldest operating restaurant in Niagara - established 1884 - and had moved to this location at Bridge and River Rd. in the 1900's. [update: sad to hear that Simon's - run by Pat and Rosa Simon for some 50 years, and by Pat's father before that - was closed in early Dec.2012, around Dec.12. I'll miss them.]{Pat Simon died Jan.31, 2014, at the age of 83}
The restaurant and barber shop were located in the same building which was seen in the earlier photo. On the Cataract Ave. corner of the same building was once located the NS&T ticket office.
Above: same view, same spot as it was on Jun.3, 1948. The Niagara, St. Catharines and Toronto (NS&T) streetcar tracks on Bridge St. are being removed. A train can be seen crossing the Michigan Central bridge in the distance.
The peaked house roof with the chimney in the mid-picture right-side can be seen in both photos (This had most recently been the Simon house, at 4538 Cataract Ave., right behind Simon's restaurant, seen more fully in green in the 2008 photo. In the 2008 view, the house is seen clearly because a building had been knocked down: the building at the far right in the 1948 photos was the Royal Inn hotel) The raised block stone wall seen from where both pictures were taken forms a grade separation, because just to the left is another railroad track (CN, still in daily use) on another bridge, the Whirlpool bridge, crossing the Niagara river to the States. These two bridges across the Niagara River are only several hundred feet apart. Right behind and to the left of the spot from where the above two pictures were taken is the Niagara Falls CN/VIA train station, still in daily use.
Also, note the building with the crenellated roofline at the centre-right of the above photo: this was the Renown Printing shop, located at 4144 Bridge St. The roofline is hidden under a bulkhead in the 2008 photo, the former print shop now being a restaurant.
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Below: View looking south along Erie Ave. from Bridge St. The former Hotel Trennick to the left. [click to enlarge photos] (From Niagara Falls Library, Kiwanis Collection 252046) The gap at the left, behind the Trennick, where the angled-sidewall-building is seen, is where a railroad track (the Mary Ann spur) once ran, crossing Erie Ave. (just where the streetcar is seen) Don't know this photo's date, and can't tell if the railroad tracks are actually still there at this time. There would have been a diamond crossing here with the streetcar and railway tracks.

Above: Same view on Mar.12, 2008. The bus terminal (at right) now occupies the entire block along Erie Ave. between Bridge St. and Park St. Note at the left, the rear of the hotel has had an extension compare to the earlier photo, and the building with the angled sidewall is gone.
[The red building seen in the centre (lastly known as the Sui Sun Chinese restaurant, 4566-4568 Erie Ave.) was demolished on Nov.20, 2014. Earlier that summer, in late May to June 2014, a row of four neighbouring buildings south of the Sui Sun, stretching to the corner of Erie Ave. and Park St., were torn down. This was precipitated by the partial collapse of one of the buildings on May10, 2014, at around 1:30 pm., which ultimately led to the row of four buildings being demolished, due to their interconnected construction; the Sui Sun was the fifth and final building in that row to be razed. The restaurant was in business and working on the day the collapse occurred. Now, the old hotel on the corner (still boarded up as of Dec.2014) is the sole building left on the east side of Erie Ave. on this block.]
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I envision Niagara Falls developing a streetcar line, centered at the Bridge St train/bus station, tying together a route from Great Wolf Lodge to Marineland. It would make day-trips for tourists or convention visitors who arrive by bus, VIA train, (or possibly GO Train?) easy and enjoyable.

Even visitors who arrive by car could leave their vehicles in one location and travel the main artery of Niagara Falls to almost every desired destination. The route could travel the main streets (ie Bridge, Victoria, Stanley) or it could partially use the former Michigan Central Palmer Ave. right of way.

Many U.S. cities have restored or built new streetcar lines in recent years, Portland being a notable example where a new streetcar line was the catalyst for an extremely successful urban redevelopment plan. Many transit solutions are based on ‘commuter’ models; however a streetcar line in Niagara Falls has the beneficial, practical characteristic that it can function as a ‘circulator’ for both locals and the tourist-trade.

There is incredible opportunity and potential along the route for planned growth, infill, and revitalization nodes, especially within the downtown/Silvertown/railyard areas. That whole area has truly incredible potential for renewal.

Niagara Falls is no stranger to streetcars, having had them until just after WWII. Although replaced by buses, the streetcar’s underlying benefit, still valid today, is that it uses reliable electric technology and, in keeping with Niagara Falls’ tradition, renewable energy. Streetcars built today are available double-ended, meaning that they can be operated from either end, making loops unnecessary, and can be made wheelchair friendly.

Of course, there are pro and cons to be discussed. A feasibility study, shared by a business/government partnership, would quickly discover and quantify the upsides to move such a project forward. The Ontario Liberals have made funding announcements for transit, specifically mentioning streetcars. Seeing as Toronto is the only city in the province with streetcars, maybe it's time to belly-up to the bar and see what McGuinty can do for Niagara Falls.
It would be ideal, though, if such a project could occur with predominantly private funding, with as little government handout as possible; however, if a streetcar line would springboard the expected new tax-generating development, the costs would certainly turn out to be a worthy long-term capital investment for the city as well.
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See the next post in this series: Erie Ave. at the Niagara Falls Bus Terminal (Part THIRTEEN)
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See the first part of this series at Niagara Falls, Buildings Lost and Found, PART ONE
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Thanks for visiting Right In Niagara!
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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ludicrous Liberal two-tier health-care

Lisa Priest reported in “Health minister cites rules in cancer case, The province can’t fund ‘every hope mission’ to US’ aide says”, (Globe and Mail, Mar.12, 2008):

“The Ontario Health Minister sympathizes with anyone battling an illness, but he stopped short of offering any help to a cancer patient who paid $60,000 in the United States to have a massive tumour removed.
"There are rules that require an individual to apply for approval before receiving treatment out of country," Laurel Ostfield, press secretary to provincial Health Minister George Smitherman, wrote in an e-mail yesterday. "These laws are in place to preserve our public health-care system because if we funded every hope mission that presented itself, the system would be unable to keep up with the demand."
The comments follow a Globe and Mail story about Sylvia de Vries, who despite having an enormous tumour and fluid totalling 18 kilograms, could not obtain timely treatment in Canada. The Windsor, Ont., woman went to Pontiac, Mich., where a surgeon excised the tumour - 35 centimetres at its longest - along with her ovaries, appendix, Fallopian tubes, uterus and cervix. As well, 13 litres of fluid were drained during the October, 2006, operation.
Had she waited two weeks for treatment, Ms. de Vries would have faced potential multiorgan failure, rendering her unstable for surgery, wrote Michael L. Hicks, who performed the operation.
Sylvia de Vries and her husband, Adriaan, of Windsor spent their own money to get her potentially life-saving surgery in the United States for ovarian cancer.
To pay for the $60,000 worth of treatment, Ms. de Vries drained her savings, maxed out her credit cards, took out a line of credit and relied on friends who threw a spaghetti-dinner fundraiser that brought in $11,125.
The Ontario Health Insurance Plan would not pay for her ovarian cancer treatment, because she did not fill out the prior approval form before receiving out-of-country care. OHIP also says no medical documentation was submitted that indicated that a delay in obtaining the service in Ontario would result in death or medically significant, irreversible tissue damage.
Figures obtained yesterday reveal the number of patients approved for out-of-country care has nearly tripled over the past five years.
In fiscal 2002-2003, there were 2,083 patients approved for out-of-country care. Since April, 2007, a total of 6,132 patients have had their treatment approved, according to Health Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Woodward Fraser. (Those numbers do not include the referrals of emergency neurosurgery and cardiac patients sent to the U.S. for care.)
The number of people denied out-of-country treatments has also increased, though not nearly as much. In fiscal 2002-2003, 225 patients were denied funding through the program, compared with fiscal 2007, in which 388 patients have so far been denied.
To have an out-of-country treatment approved, the procedure must not be one performed in Ontario, cannot be experimental and should be deemed medically appropriate. However, patients can have out-of-country treatment funded even if it is available in Ontario so long as there is a delay that would cause irreversible tissue damage or death. Part of the form must be filled out by the patient's physician.
Yesterday, Progressive Conservative health critic Elizabeth Witmer called on the Health Minister to review the case of the ovarian cancer patient.
"They need to look at some of the extenuating circumstances and if it's deemed to be warranted, I think they have to recognize some of the challenges she faced," Ms. Witmer said in an interview. "... They need to very seriously review the situation."
Also yesterday, lawyer Kate Sellar, who represents Ms. de Vries, said the Health Minister's sympathy is not enough.
"Ms. de Vries can show that she meets the medical requirements for treatment in the U.S., but wasn't able to comply with all of OHIP's processes and procedures," Ms. Sellar wrote in an e-mail. "The minister should step in and make sure she doesn't pay for her choices with her life savings."
Ms. de Vries had bounced around the Ontario health-care system before a U.S. physician diagnosed her with ovarian cancer. He operated on her four days later.
"It's ludicrous," Ms. de Vries said yesterday. "Where's the judgment and the integrity in all of this?... I'm disappointed with the bureaucracy of it all.""

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Here we go again: another Ontario patient, another victim thrown into HSARB, that mysterious government star-chamber of monopoly-medicine, where the failed promises of Liberal medicare are appealed.

The smarmy gall of McGuinty's government to spin that patients – who were unable to obtain treatment in Ontario's Liberal health-care-monopoly - are to blame for not filling out some forms. Where is the part where the Liberal government is held liable and accountable for failing to provide their end of the socialist-medicare bargain? Dalton’s gang is held harmless, while patients in the mythical Liberal health care system suffer!

Once again, where would patients from Ontario go if they couldn’t find treatment in the States? The Dalton McGuinty Liberal health-care monopoly is failing on what should probably be seen as a criminal scale.

Didn’t we just go through almost the same scenario a year ago locally in St. Catharines, with Suzanne Aucoin?
Didn’t Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin tear a strip off Ontario's Liberal health-care system then?
Didn’t the Liberals pledge to improve things?
Didn’t St. Catharines single-payer-pushing healthcare-monopolist Liberal MPP Jim Bradley...


...{see: Can Jim Bradley explain why he "stood up and said 'I hate doctors'"?
or:

Jim Bradley and the entropy of Ontario's health care
or:

Liberal medicare unbelievably scary}...
    
...attend Aucoin’s memorial and blab about vague 'inequities in health care' - as if he had nothing to do with what his own Liberals did to Aucoin?! {..talk about Bradley's cognitive dissonance here! Bradley and his Liberals were the problem!}
Don’t the Liberals know that HSARB is a bell-weather for their failing monopoly?
Since Aucoin, have the Liberals improved procedures, access and staffing so that HSARB may become a help, not a hindrance, to those Ontarians who were victimized by the McGuinty's Liberal health-care monopoly, and who were forced to get treatment elsewhere (mostly in the U.S.)?

This is another example of Liberal health care duplicity, where the Liberals are practising two-tier medicine: the patient gets sick in Ontario and is greeted by a health-care waiting list, or, goes to the States and is treated with health-care.

The Liberals, in the meantime, collect the patients' taxes, but fail to provide the supposedly-promised "universal" treatment; and even better: no Liberals are ever held liable for the death and destruction which they create.

What a socialist scam.


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Lisa Priest previously wrote on Mar.11, 2008, on the same subject, titled “Even huge tumour can’t secure care in Ontario” (Globe and Mail):

“Inside Sylvia de Vries lurked an enormous tumour and fluid totalling 18 kilograms. But not even that massive weight gain and a diagnosis of ovarian cancer could assure her timely treatment in Canada.
Fighting for her life, the Windsor woman headed to the United States. In Pontiac, Mich., a surgeon excised the tumour - 35 centimetres at its longest - along with her ovaries, appendix, fallopian tubes, uterus and cervix. In addition, 13 litres of fluid were drained during that October, 2006, operation.
And there was little time to spare: Had she waited two weeks, she would have faced potential multiorgan failure, rendering her unstable for surgery, according to a letter from Michael L. Hicks, who performed the four-hour operation at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland.
"Based on my exam and experience as a gynecological oncologist, I felt it necessary to perform surgery within two weeks," said the letter written by Dr. Hicks, provided to Ms. de Vries's lawyer, Kate Sellar.
Sylvia de Vries and her husband, Adriaan, of Windsor spent their own money to get her potentially life-saving surgery in the United States for ovarian cancer.
But a devastating cancer diagnosis was only the beginning of Ms. de Vries's troubles.
The Ontario Health Insurance Plan says it won't pay for the $60,000 cancer treatment because Ms. de Vries did not fill out the correct form seeking preapproval for out-of-country care.
As well, it says no medical documentation was submitted that indicated a delay in obtaining the service in Ontario would result in death or medically significant, irreversible tissue damage.
That administrative misstep has left Ms. de Vries, a 51-year-old corporate communications manager, with a staggering cancer bill. She has drained her savings, maxed out her credit cards, taken out a line of credit and relied on friends to hold a spaghetti-dinner fundraiser, which earned $11,125.
"I feel abandoned; I was fighting for my life," Ms. de Vries said. "... I definitely would like to get some money back but more importantly, I would like to see the situation rectified so [other patients] don't go through this."
Ms. de Vries's case raises questions about OHIP's out-of-country health coverage program, which was put under a review more than a year ago after cancer patient Suzanne Aucoin of St. Catharines, Ont., was denied funding for treatment she received in the United States.
Only after ombudsman André Marin intervened was Ms. Aucoin reimbursed $76,018.23 in January, 2007, to cover costs associated with the colorectal cancer drug Erbitux, among other expenses and legal fees. (She has since died.)
At the time, Mr. Marin described the out-of-country approval process as "literally impossible for patients and physicians to understand."
Just two months before Mr. Marin made those comments, Ms. de Vries was trying to get access to that same program.
To have an out-of-country treatment approved, the procedure must not be performed in Ontario, cannot be experimental and should be deemed medically appropriate. However, patients can have out-of-country treatment funded even if it is available in Ontario so long as there is a delay that would cause irreversible tissue damage or death. Part of the form must be filled out by the patient's physician.
Patients denied preapproved, out-of-country treatment can appeal their cases to the Health Services Appeal and Review Board. And that is what OHIP has suggested to Ms. de Vries.
But her lawyer, Ms. Sellar, said such an appeal would be futile: Since Ms. de Vries did not fill out the out-of-country form before receiving treatment in the U.S., she cannot win the appeal.
Health Minister George Smitherman has the discretion to reimburse Ms. de Vries for treatment, if he chooses to do so. Ms. de Vries said she contacted her MPP, Sandra Pupatello, about it. In the end, she was told she had to go through the appeal process.
Bill Hryniuk, a past chairman of the board for the Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada, said cases like Ms. de Vries are "happening quite a bit." The problem, Dr. Hryniuk said, is that "no one is in charge. No one is in charge of the case and the patient bounces around. ... It really is a bad system. Really, it's no system."
Even after Ms. de Vries obtained a CT scan in the U.S. that suggested she had ovarian cancer, she still couldn't get treatment in Ontario. She was referred to a gynecologist who would not take her as a patient because she had dismissed his practice partner some years earlier. Another gynecologist said he did not believe she had ovarian cancer. And a general surgeon said she needed a gynecological oncologist.
At that point, in October, 2006, her condition was worsening - so she tapped her savings and went to the U.S.
After the surgery, she tried to get into the cancer system in Windsor, this time for chemotherapy. In November, she was told there was a six-week wait for chemotherapy, and she ended up getting chemo in the U.S. as well.
Ron Foster, vice-president of public affairs and communications for Windsor Regional Hospital, which includes the Windsor Regional Cancer Centre, said such a wait even back in 2006 would have been unusual - that it may have been as long as three weeks. Today, chemotherapy begins within one week of being referred by a doctor, he said.
Several improvements have also been made to the out-of-country process. A bulletin describing the program was mailed to the province's physicians, hospitals and associations in October, 2007. The next month, a special website was created. Those who receive denial letters are now provided a special telephone number to call for clarification on why the request was rejected, said Health Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Woodward Fraser.
But all that was too late for Ms. de Vries.
"I feel disappointed that when you're going through something like I did, you had to think about financial issues. It put a tremendous amount of strain on us," she said.
Her husband, Adriaan de Vries, an IT systems engineer, said they had no choice but to go to the U.S. "Nobody was in charge," he said, "and nobody really cared."”

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LOOK AT THAT: "Nobody was in charge... and nobody really cared" - - -  this is exactly what I’ve been writing about for several years now: read Liberal Healthcare Duplicity, An Ontario Overview 2003-2007 .

It's overwhelmigly sad what these Liberals have done to Ontario's health care system: they are more concerned about the health of their medicare-monopoly, than the actual health of individual patients.
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Doing our best not be bruised by the velvet fist of socialized medicare

[click photo to enlarge]

Here’s a typical headline and story similar to what Americans would also be seeing in their local papers if they finally are blessed with socialized, government-run, single-payer, universal health-care like we have in Ontario.

This article appeared in the St. Catharines Standard on Mar.12, 2008. and is nothing new for our system. In fact, unless you’re ill, no-one seems to care anymore: we are resigned to these constant delays and low-standard results from socialized medicare.

This headline, so typical in Canada, is a sample of the future the Americans have to look forward to if they pursue Ontario as a health-care role model to emulate. And if that happens in the States, where are Ontario’s Liberals going to send ill patients then?? At this time, the American system is there taking the pressure (and the accountability) off the Dalton McGuinty Liberal medicare-monopoly in Ontario. What will Liberals do when Buffalo no longer has room to accept Ontario patients, thanks to the spread of medical socialism down in the U.S.?

Liberal MPP Kim Craitor from Niagara Falls is still calling for a review of the NHS?!

What…again?! Craitor and Jim Bradley, another Liberal MPP from St. Catharines, were already through that phony charade months ago, as I’ve outlined several times.

How many times do these Liberal clowns keep re-announcing the same thing? They RUN THE HEALTH CARE system!! How is it possible that this Liberal government, after five years in power - and with a MAJORITY government - purports with frustration that they’re not satisfied with these results within the Niagara Health System? (As if these Liberals had no influence or bearing whatsoever on these results in the first place!) Who is accountable here?

The Liberal government has FULL control of the NHS! They can override the board and appoint a supervisor immediately – as they have ALREADY done in other failing health networks in monopoly-Ontario! They can then appoint the Ombudsman to investigate the NHS immediately!

The problem with that (for Liberals) is that Craitor and Bradley would also then have to reveal why the NHS was found by a Nov. 2007 CIHI study to have the third-highest death rate in Canada.

We’ve never heard Craitor, Bradley, or Liberal Premier McGuinty, or Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman give –or, more pointedly publicly even commit to finding out - the reasons behind that shocking revelation. We’ve also not heard them respond to the NHS request for more funding: are the hospital’s high death-rate and the surgery delays a result of Liberal funding decisions? Will we ever know?

This Liberal health-care monopoly charade just keeps on getting worse. Liberals like Craitor keep on spitting into the wind with their ‘Potemkin-village’ calls for some half-assed “operational” review of the NHS.

Having the Ministry of Health investigate itself will yield a report as phony as a three dollar bill.

The problem here is one of trust and accountability: there is none. This Liberal-run health system has no competition, no checks, no balances. We have no idea about the cost-effectiveness or appropriateness of any random Liberal health-care funding allocation. We just have to take their word for it, and accept what's handed out to us: legally, we have no alternatives.

The Liberals, in my opinion, can’t be trusted as the sole-distributors of health-care in Ontario, simply because they are held-harmless and unaccountable for the blow-back to patients caused by their Liberal health care duplicity. No criminal or civil charges will hold anyone to blame. The Liberals view their re-election as a pass to wreak more monopoly havoc upon Ontario patients. The Liberals believe only they have a divine right to spend the some-38 billion dollars of our health-care tax money.

Those 190 delayed patients (this just in Niagara; who knows how many others got cancelled today in the rest of Ontario…and, then, tomorrow’s yet another day…and another delay…) were inconvenienced and suffered on behalf of a phony health system propagated by the McGuinty government.

When a hospital spokeswoman said that “We fully recognize and appreciate the impact that any type of postponement has on our patients…” how contrite is that? How acceptable is that? Here’s a way for you to really “recognize” that you have a big problem: getting sued for your failure to provide health care services promised by the Liberal government.

There’s no other way (is there?) to hold these Liberal politicians accountable for their health care monopoly mess. What choice do we have: suffer and wait and put up with it; sue your local Liberal franchise monopoly representative, or go to Buffalo for your health care (which could soon also become a non-option). We have no “contract” to hold the Liberals to. Their political health-care posturing has the freedom of non-accountability, as we are seeing at the NHS. No one’s to blame, right? It’s “the system” vaguely to be blamed, right…NEVER any specific Liberal politician! The 'virtual' promises of the medicare salespeople are just that: virtual, not actually 'literal', or even enforceable.

“We’re doing our best…” the hospitals say. Well, they are put into an untenable and unwinnable position by the unrealistic monopoly-health-care politics of the Liberals. This is what socialized medicare looks like folks: this is the bruising we get from the velvet fist of Tommy Douglas.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ontario's 'medicare' promises fulfilled by U.S. health-system

Lisa Priest wrote in “Why Ontario keeps sending patients south”, (Globe and Mail, Mar.1, 2008):

Poor planning and bed shortages mean 'everything is jam packed'.

More than 400 Canadians in the full throes of a heart attack or other cardiac emergency have been sent to the United States because no hospital can provide the lifesaving care they require here.

Most of the heart patients who have been sent south since 2003 typically show up in Ontario hospitals, where they are given clot-busting drugs. If those drugs fail to open their clogged arteries, the scramble to locate angioplasty in the United States begins.

"They rushed me over to Detroit, did the whole closing of the tunnel," said Eric Bialkowski, 47, of the heart attack he had on March 14, 2007, in Windsor, Ont. "It was like Disneyworld customer service."

While other provinces have sent patients out of country - British Columbia has sent 75 pregnant women or their babies to Washington State since February, 2007 - nowhere is the problem as acute as in Ontario.

At least 188 neurosurgery patients and 421 emergency cardiac patients have been sent to the United States from Ontario since the 2003-2004 fiscal year to Feb. 21 this year. Add to that 25 women with high-risk pregnancies sent south of the border in 2007.

Although Queen's Park says it is ensuring patients receive emergency care when they need it, Progressive Conservative health critic Elizabeth Witmer says it reflects poor planning.
That is particularly the case with neurosurgery, she said, noting that four reports since 2003 have predicted a looming shortage.

"This province and the number of people going outside for care - it's increasing in every area," Ms. Witmer said.

"I definitely believe that it is very bad planning. ...We're simply unable to meet the demand, but we don't even know what the demand is."

Tom Closson, the Ontario Hospital Association's president and chief executive officer, said 30 per cent of Ontario's hospital medical beds are currently occupied by patients awaiting more appropriate placements, such as assisted living centres, a nursing home, a rehabilitation facility or even their own homes with proper home-care supports.

That squeezes the system at both ends: Patients in intensive care units whose condition improves cannot get into step-down units, and some emergency patients can't get a bed at all, he said, adding that "everything is jam-packed at the moment."

A method for determining the right mix of beds and health services required in Ontario needs to be developed, he said, noting that that task has not been undertaken on a provincial basis for a decade.

Laurel Ostfield, press secretary to provincial Health Minister George Smitherman, said that in emergencies, where the patient goes becomes a clinical decision.

It is preferable for someone with a heart attack in Windsor to be sent to Detroit, a few kilometres away, rather than on a long ride to London, Ont.

When demand has peaked, government has responded, she said. It struck a neurosurgery expert panel to study the problem and $4.1-million has been provided to stem the tide of U.S. neurosurgery patients.

As well, stand-alone angioplasty services were created in Windsor in May.
Canadian Medical Association president Brian Day said he couldn't speak about the Ontario problem, but noted this country is the last in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development to finance hospitals with global budgets.

Under that model, patients - and often doctors - are sometimes viewed as a financial drain.
"We keep coming back to the same root cause," Dr. Day said in a telephone interview from Ottawa. "The health system is not consumer-focused."

Patients first learn of the problem when they are critically ill.

Jennifer Walmsley went to Headwaters Health Care Centre in Orangeville in October and was diagnosed with a cerebral hemorrhage due to a ruptured aneurysm. That acute-care hospital does not have neurosurgery and no Ontario hospital that does could take her. She was then rushed to a Buffalo hospital.

Headwater's chief of staff, Jeff McKinnon, said three neurosurgery patients have been sent to Buffalo in the past year. Others have gone to Toronto, Mississauga, Hamilton and London.
Radiologist Louise Keevil said Headwaters has an arrangement with neurosurgeons at other Ontario hospitals to send electronic images for their assessment, but "the limiting factor is availability of beds in their hospital.

"The physicians are very accommodating but their hands are tied by availability of service."
Kaukab Usman had a heart attack after a gym workout in Windsor on Dec. 9. She was rushed to hospital and given clot-bursting drugs.

When they failed, she was sent to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, where she had angioplasty on one clogged artery and two stents inserted.

"It was a miracle for me to be alive," Ms. Usman said in a telephone interview from Somerset, New Jersey, where she is recuperating.

Aaron Kugelmass, director of the cardiac catheterization laboratory at Henry Ford Hospital, said a system is in place to get these patients the care they need expeditiously.

"We try to make their length of stay in the U.S. as short as possible," said Dr. Kugelmass, associate division chief of cardiology. "If they are stable for discharge, we discharge them to home in Windsor, with clear follow-up plans."

Cross-border emergency health care should become less frequent when Amr Morsi, an interventional cardiologist currently in Orlando, Florida, comes to work at Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital in Windsor in April; a second interventional cardiologist is to come on board there by end of year.

When the program is fully functional, Dr. Morsi expects Hotel-Dieu Grace to be able to do 500 angioplasties a year.

"The idea of starting the program in Windsor is that we will be able to do more of the angioplasty procedures in Windsor without having to send them to Detroit or London," said the Toronto native who did his cardiology training at the University of Toronto.

"It will take some time to decrease the numbers entirely, but that certainly is the long term plan."

Mr. Bialkowski of Lakeshore, a town east of Windsor, had angioplasty and received four stents. The stents, typically made of self-expanding, stainless steel mesh, were placed at the site of the fully blocked artery to keep it open.

The price to treat him, including a two-day hospital stay in March, 2007, was $40,826.21 (U.S.) With a 35 per cent discount from Henry Ford Hospital, the bill to the Ontario Health Insurance Plan tallied $26,537.03 (U.S.), according to a health ministry document, a copy of which was sent to Mr. Bialkowski.

The father of six, a human resources manager for a manufacturing company based in Windsor, is back at the gym and feels great. It didn't matter where he received the lifesaving care, he said, just so long as he obtained it.

"I guess the Canadian government took care of me," he said.”

*

I wonder if Liberal MPP Jim Bradley of St. Catharines can answer whether he thinks that it was the Canadian government that took care of this patient, or was it mostly thanks to his Ontario government?

Poor planning and bed shortages”… isn’t that the result of Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal policies, of Dalton McGuinty’s authoritarian Commitment to the Future of Health Care Act?
Wasn’t Ontario Premier McGuinty saying just a year and a half ago (Sept.30, 2006, St. Catharines Standard) that more hospital beds weren’t in the cards for the health monopoly which his Liberals run?

Liberal Health Minister George Smitherman's own spokesperson explains that where emergency patients are sent is a clinical decision. How very interesting. Yet, this is the over-riding question we must all ask ourselves:

Whose political decision forced these Ontario patients to the States ??

Priest wrote: “At least 188 neurosurgery patients and 421 emergency cardiac patients have been sent to the United States from Ontario since the 2003-2004 fiscal year to Feb. 21 this year. Add to that 25 women with high-risk pregnancies sent south of the border in 2007.”

Can Jim Bradley confirm that these figures are correct? Is Jim Bradley proud of these so-called achievements? I remember how a smug and arrogant Jim Bradley constantly sniffed his nose with disdain at the American system -  the same system to which Bradley’s own government now turns to, so as to help fulfill its dubious Liberal medicare claims.

Priest wrote: “Although Queen's Park says it is ensuring patients receive emergency care when they need it, Progressive Conservative health critic Elizabeth Witmer says it reflects poor planning.
That is particularly the case with neurosurgery, she said, noting that four reports since 2003 have predicted a looming shortage.
"This province and the number of people going outside for care - it's increasing in every area," Ms. Witmer said.
"I definitely believe that it is very bad planning. ...We're simply unable to meet the demand, but we don't even know what the demand is."”

Will Jim Bradley provide answers to the questions which the opposition is asking?
Or will Jim Bradley find a convenient ‘Harris/Eves’ boogeyman red-herring to distract us with?

Does Bradley share the sentiment that ‘it doesn’t matter where we receive lifesaving care, so long as we obtain it’?

I mean it seems patently obvious that the ‘care’ in question, isn’t found in the realm of Ontario politics, as practised by Bradley and his single-payer-monopoly- pushing Liberals.

The 'care' is found elsewhere, most conveniently in the U.S. - in health care facilities which would BE ILLEGAL in Jim Bradley's province of Ontario!!



Let’s recall Liberal Health Minister George Smitherman's hysteria several years ago as he was ridiculously deputizing Ontarians to stop Lifeline, a U.S. diagnostics provider, from crossing the border – a moronic stunt which St.Catharines Liberal MPP Jim Bradley supported.

Obviously, then, medicare-status-quo Liberal protectionists were fully prepared to show it does matter where we get our care!
And theses same Liberal monopolist hacks made sure Ontario patients weren't going to get in Ontario!

I think it’s obvious that it matters 100% WHERE we get our emergency care, and, WHY we are getting it elsewhere, not in Ontario.

I think the obvious question is: whose system is failing??
Is it a badge of honour now to trumpet that Liberal medicare 'works' and is a 'great policy success' because patients are treated by the health system in the United States - by that supposedly-sicko system that Jim Bradley sanctimoniously fear-mongers about?!?

Ontario’s health monopoly failed to be ready to meet its obligations, because there was no accountability, nor incentive, up the political chain of command regarding the provision of anticipated services and of the costs to provide them.
Nanny-State Liberals - and previous Ontario governments since the sixties, since Tommy The Commie Douglas’ socialist heyday - downplayed the power of ‘market-responses' to 'demand’.
The (mythical) belief that solely the State, from the top-down, will wisely guide and provide what is needed, is still practised to this day with the continual dumping of tax-cash into what so many now see as a health-care black-hole. Health care provision is essentially a commodity, but when politicians and moralizing socialists enter the fray with their overwhemingly skewed policies, well, we get what we have in Ontario in 2008.



When Ontario resident Ms. Kaukab Usman had a heart attack in Windsor, Ontario on Dec. 9, 2008 - yet was sent to Detroit for treatment - then there is something severely wrong with the Liberal health care politics in Ontario, which defend this kind of medical sadism to be 'normal', or 'acceptable', or a 'success'.

When Ms. Usman said: "It was a miracle for me to be alive," I hope Ontario Liberal MPP hack Jim Bradley - after his thirty years of medicare-promoting devastation in Ontario - is proud of his handi-work, because the 'miracle' for this Ontario patient didn’t occur in Ontario.

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By the way, will Liberal MPP Jim Bradley ever reveal why the Niagara Health System, in his own St. Catharines, Ontario riding, was found in a Nov. 2007 CIHI report to have the third-highest mortality rate in Canada?
Does Jim Bradley feel his monopoly-trumpeting Liberal government is absolved of any accountability to patients?
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