Medicare System Not Quite Dead – Town Hall Meeting on Health Care not well Attended – Cornwall Ontario – February 8, 2010 – Editorial

Medicare not quite dead….yet.

There was a meeting last week here in Cornwall Ontario.  It was  a town hall meeting and the subject was something that plays a role in every person’s life in Canada, and in particular Ontario. LINK

It focused on the budget for the local hospital which our community strongly supports.    The hospital in Cornwall is a great example of how a community can really pull together and have a higher standard of care.

However it’s not like that in many communities and there are a lot of areas that could be better here if there was more support from the system.  It was very brave of MPP Jim Brownell to attend and take some of the flak for issues definitely not of his making.

I heard from him after the meeting:

As a follow-up to the Town Hall meeting by the Cornwall Health Coalition on Wednesday, February 3, 2010, I wish to express my thoughts on the state of hospital investments in Ontario, and in the Riding of Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry.

As the Member of Provincial Parliament for the Riding, I am extremely proud of the outstanding support given to the Riding by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Champlain Local Health Integration Network.  Since my arrival at Queen’s Park in 2003, I have had the distinct honour to advocate for hospital supports to the Riding, and I can say that three Ministers of Health and Long-Term Care have truly supported the need to modernize and improve healthcare in Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry.

The Honourable George Smitherman, the Honourable David Caplan, and the Honourable Deb Matthews have been true friends to healthcare supports in the Riding, and they have certainly contributed to the success of the capital projects and operating opportunites at our hospitals.  The Cornwall Community Hospital, the Winchester District Memorial Hospital, and the St. Joseph’s Continuing Care Centre have been the beneficiaries of the attention and financial supports from the McGuinty government.

As recently as January 2010, the Cornwall Community Hospital received the attention of the Ministry and local LHIN, with a baseline infusion of $5 billion to the operations budget, at the hospital.  This is government investment to health in the Riding, and this is the investment that I am particularly proud to advocate for, on behalf of the constituents.  We’ve delivered to better healthcare in the Riding, and the Cornwall Health Coalition should realize these investments, and speak positively about them.

At the provincial level, the McGuinty government has increased hospital funding from $10.9 billion in 2003/04 to $15.5 billion this year, a 42% increase.  This year, we’ve increased hospital funding by $696 million, a 4.7% increase over last year.

Hospital boards across Ontario are aware of the serious financial challenges we are facing in the province, and each hospital is working diligently with their Local Health Integration Network, as they plan for the coming year.  In spite of the challenges we face in the province, the McGuinty government will continue to reduce wait times and increase access to primary care.  These are our top priorities.

At this time, we are in the middle of the budget process, and we want to ensure that we are building on our successes to create a sustainable healthcare system for all Ontarians.

It is important to remember that healthcare exists beyond the walls of our hospitals.  We are commited to expanding the number of family health teams, community health centres, and nurse practitioner clinics.  In the Riding, we are in the midst of two important projects that will take some pressure off our hospitals.  The Seaway Valley Community Health Centre will open in Cornwall in 2010, and South Glengarry will see the development of a Nurse Practitioner Clinic in Lancaster.  These are the investments that have been delivered to the Riding, by the McGuinty government, and these are the investments that so many community leaders have worked so hard to bring to fruition.

With the launch of the government’s groundbreaking “Aging at Home” Stategy, and the increase of long term care beds, we are taking pressure off the hospitals, and we are significantly reducing wait times.  Healthcare is a holistic community system, and this system is being supported very well in Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry.

To the healthcare professionals at our hospitals, to the CEOs and Board members, and to all the volunteers who labour in love for community healthcare, I say “thank you” for all that you do for the constituents of the Riding.  You continue to advocate for the best in healthcare, and you continue to deliver with compassion and care.  Your contributions and investments in healthcare are appreciated.

Darlene Jalbert, Federal NDP candidate for this riding also commented:

What’s to say, no matter how much Jim Brownell professes what a good job he is doing, and I will be the first to admit, he seems to work hard.

That doesn’t change the fact that there is not enough money in the budget to cover the cost of our hospital.  It is only going to get worse in the future unless the government increases funding.  That leads to more cuts to a hospital that is all ready efficient.

To me the sanctity of our Medicare system should be beyond partisan politics.   I’m not suggesting Ms Jalbert or MPP Brownell are being partisan in their quotes.   I think that it will take immense political will for Canadians to force their government to make the system accountable and efficient.

It will never be perfect; but right now it’s being purposefully ineffective and costing thousands of people their lives each and every year.  It’s not getting better.   Our hospital here in Cornwall Ontario does an amazing job.   I’ve been there; used their services, but for example in today’s age of nasty bugs in hospitals I witnessed a patient having to be transported to Ottawa for a basic treatment that should’ve been available here.

The hospital in Ottawa was not as clean as in Cornwall and any bugs potentially picked up there were then transported to Cornwall.

We as Canadians need to focus more on our health care system.   I can tell you that the meeting last week was poorly attended and poorly supported in the local media.   The MPP was there as were a three city councilors and other politicians of various stripes, but where were the most important people in this equation?    Watching American Idol?

People talk about apathy and maybe they’re right.    But if we don’t grasp the importance of taking control of our tax dollars and implementing via our politicians what we want then one day we could end up like the satirical piece below.


What do you want the government to do regarding the Medicare system?

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(Comments and opinions of Editorials, Letters to the Editor, and comments from readers are purely their own and don’t necessarily reflect those of the owners of the Cornwall Free News, their staff, or sponsors.)

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  1. “People talk about apathy and maybe they’re right. But if we don’t grasp the importance of taking control of our tax dollars….”

    Most people DON`T grasp the importance of taking control of their tax dollars as evidenced by the acceptance of this costly,ineffective,unwarranted Legislation passed into law by the Ontario Liberals in 2005.
    “……disclosure could reasonably be expected to be injurious to the financial interests of the Government of Ontario, ….”

    and they DON`T hold Politicians accountable.

    That is YOUR money that should be going to Health care,Education,Seniors,Children….

    If you really do grasp the importance of taking care of your tax dollars urge all Ontario MPP`s to support MPP Cheri DiNovo`s Bill 222



  2. I read the whole thing and only see 2 word groups. “More support from the system” & Governement increases funding”
    You and I are the places more funding comes from period. Better spending is needed, soon.
    Many people like me must be upset, but have young families and need an income so getting on the soapbox for 4 years is very difficult. Thanks Free News for allowing voices of the little guy. (and gal)

  3. Author

    Hi Eric,

    Is the solution more funding or more accountability of the dollars being spent so far in the system?

  4. As much as Canadians love to talk about how “health care,” is one of their deepest values, our behaviours tell a different story. Less than 10% of Candians (3% of Americans) do even basic things to ensure their health such as not smoke, eat minimal fruit and vegetables, exercise and maintain a healthy weight. This tells me Canadians don’t really value their health at all. Actions speak louder than words.
    What Canadians value is “free,” medical treatment which of course is not free at all. To make it worse, while it can save a life in the short term, medical treatment was never designed to produce health and therefore cannot deliver it.
    As Canadians, we must decide what OUTCOMES we desire. If it is “free,” treatment let us keep going as we have until the system goes broke. If we decide we want a healthy, vital and productive life then let us change our approach and build accountabilty into the system. Personal accountablilty and systemic accountabilty that will demand the health of the population actually improves, not decline as it is now.

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