Tasha Kheriddin wrote in "Paying more and getting less" (National Post, Nov.23, 2010):
“I’m eating my cookie – can’t you see I’m eating my cookie?”
If Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach has any sense, these will go down as the famous last words in the career of one Dr. Stephen Duckett, President and CEO Alberta Health Services (AHS). Dr. Duckett made the remarks to reporters on Nov. 19, after a meeting about hospital wait times and overcrowded emergency rooms. Journalists wanted answers to some simple questions; Dr. Duckett wanted to stuff his mouth with starch. The ensuing exchange has the entire province talking about the CEO’s arrogance, the dire state of the province’s health-care system, and what to do next.
To date, the incident has been seen by over 70,000 viewers on YouTube, and countless others on television newscasts. The next day, Dr. Duckett issued an apology on his website, but didn’t face the media. He wrote, “I’m sorry. I know I got it wrong this time.” The provincial health minister, Gene Zwozdesky, stated that the AHS Board Chair will look into the comments, but that he retains confidence in his cookie-chomping CEO. Premier Ed Stelmach blogged that “Albertans are tiring of the recent theatrics which have garnered most of the attention, and so am I.”
Talk about missing the point. Dr. Duckett’s fit of pique wasn’t a case of theatrics – it was a case of poor judgment. Not punishing it is a similar error. The CEO’s arrogant performance comes at a sensitive time: On Oct. 22, 2010, a letter from the head of emergency services for the Alberta Medical Association, Paul Parks, was leaked to the media. It warned that emergency rooms faced “potential catastrophic collapse … There must be intervention immediately.” The letter unleashed a public furor as stories emerged about 20-hour emergency room waits, a woman having her cervix examined in view of other patients, and a heart patient dying while waiting for treatment.
Ironically, the day before Dr. Duckett morphed into the cookie monster, Raj Sherman, the parliamentary assistant to the health minister blamed the agency he heads for this situation. “They’ve got the biggest (budgetary) pay raise in history to deliver health care. They’ve been given the best staff in the nation … The leadership in AHS needs to inspire the frontline staff.” The current tab for Mr. Duckett’s leadership clocks in at $575,000 a year in salary, plus up to $144,000 in bonuses.
But it’s not just Alberta officials who fiddle while Rome burns. There are health horror stories from one end of the country to the other, from care to cash. In Quebec, emergency room wait times average close to 20 hours; on Sept. 30, a diabetic man died after waiting 7 hours for care. At the same time, on Nov. 18, a report issued by the Conference Board of Canada concluded that Quebec’s health-care system will consume 63% of that province’s budget by 2030-31.
Next door, things are apparently worse: according to the Fraser Institute, Ontario’s spending on health care would require 100% of its own projected source revenue by 2030. Meanwhile, just last year, an audit revealed successive Ontario governments wasted $1-billion on an eHealth project that produced no results.
It’s no wonder that the population gets angry when confronted with the arrogant attitude of a Dr. Duckett. Paying more and getting less is an unacceptable state of affairs, particularly when it comes to health care.
Of course, the elephant in the room is the whole notion that our state-funded, single payer monopoly system is sustainable. Politicians are just as pig-headed about this as Dr. Duckett was about eating his cookie, refusing to talk about alternatives even though polls show an increasing appetite for private insurance and user fees. Instead, they try to patch a broken system, devoid of competition and incentive for improvement, with predictable results.
Albert Einstein famously quipped, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Mr. Stelmach and his fellow premiers should heed that advice. At the end of the day, you cannot have your cookie and eat it, too."
Lost in the uproar over Duckett, people conveniently overlook Shitbag Liberal Premier Liar of Ontario Dalton McGuinty's smarmy episode of ignoring the concerns of cancer patient Mike Brady while McGuinty was shamelessly trolling a hospital lobby in Toronto looking for votes!!
Scumbag McGuinty - Ontario's Liberal health-care-cutting premier - slithered away like the FLICKING snake he is when Brady refused to shake McGuinty's greasy hand.
That video's been on You Tube for several years - see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UzKjfwtXrE&feature=related.
How different from Duckett's was Dalton's attitude of 'I'm walking away... walking awa-aaay... can't hear you, you ungrateful cancer patient... get lost, buddy - can't you see I'm trolling for votes here?'
The cookie crumbled favourably for McGuinty, because, naturally, he's a Liberal, and therefore can do no wrong. Why, he's good-hearted, doncha know!! Duckett, on the other hand, is evil, 'cause he's not a Liberal. [30!] [Say no more!] [Word]
Dalton McGuinty's Liberal health-care-monopolist scumbag liars do the same thing over and over again - who ever gives them Einstein's advice?!
ps - don't tell Michael Moore or Dukakis about the wait times in Canada's health-care nirvana... shhhh.