By Jack Brezina
The recent agreement on health care transfers and the attendant side deals notwithstanding, there is still a lot to be done to improve health care in this country. And while the federal government can throw some additional funds at the problem in hopes that dollars will somehow buy a solution, there is only one place where improvements to the health care system can originate. Health care is the responsibility of the provincial governments. Responsibility for any improvements or further deterioration in the delivery of health care belongs with the province, the health ministry…..politicians elected on a four year cycle and hopefully backed by a phalanx of knowledgeable civil servants.
Now, before I go any further, let’s make one thing clear: health care is not free in this country. Everyone pays for it through their taxes. Basically, citizens have been “advance billed” for the convenience of visiting the emergency department or doctor’s office and simply walking out after treatment. I am always amazed that is what we experience.
Politicians acquire their position and power because we have chosen them to manage things for us until the next election and we all supply the funding to make that happen.
If you do not like what is going on in the health care system, you know where to direct your message: MPP Laurie Scott, Health Minister Sylvia Jones and Premier Doug Ford. These people and their colleagues are ultimately responsible for how well the health system works. They control the levers of change and your money, which ultimately enables those changes.
So, if you are unhappy with the hours of nursing care residents receive in long-term care facilities, or the length of time it takes to be seen in the emergency department, the introduction of more for-profit entities in the public health care system, or the inability to find a family doctor who will take you or your family on as patients, the buck stops at Queen’s Park. The politicians are the only ones who can enact the changes to make these and a myriad of problem areas better.
Our healthcare system is a complicated, multi-faceted machine. It is difficult to fathom how it all works. However, when you need to access a health care service, that need quickly focuses your attention on how well the system does or does not function. Recalling my encounters, in most cases it has worked efficiently and with the right degree of care and compassion. Others may have a different experience. There are times, for whatever reason, when it falls short of expectations. Those moments highlight gaps and shortcomings that make us wonder if is in fact a system in crisis.
I love our public health care system and the fact that everyone has access, no matter the amount of money in your wallet. Even with its shortcomings, it sure beats what is offered in most other countries around the world. But, as beneficiaries and funders of the system, it needs your care and attention. Those who manage our – and I can’t emphasize enough that it is “our” system – need to hear our concerns and they need to listen to those who work within it. Don’t give up on making it better because there are all sorts of ways it can be improved. The Premier, the Health Minister and our MPP need to hear about our concerns and our expectations.
At some time in our lives, we will all access health care services. Only by caring now can you ensure the system you’ll need will be there for you when you need it.