While it’s not a new topic of discussion in Ontario, we’ve heard a lot of talk in the last while about hospitals and public health spending. A rocky economy and two elections in 2011 and now some additional revelations about health CEO perks and salaries show us that the conversation isn’t going to cease anytime soon. But what are we NOT talking about?
About a year ago, I had an exciting opportunity. I was able to spend time in our hospitals for several days observing the work that is done there. All the nurses and staff work harder than I had ever imagined, but what was most surprising to me was how ill-equipped they actually were. Even more surprising was my first adventure in prison economics and trading.
A couple RNs were trying to perform a procedure and tests and required a 9-volt battery, of all things. They hadn’t any extras and were told it would take weeks to get more. There were none in the ward or available on the floor. A patient laid waiting for a good 30 minutes while we went on an adventure to another floor where we met with surgeons. I stood aside as the RN negotiated an off-the-books loan, promising to replace the battery weeks later and a return favour should the surgeon lend her a battery. After a short exchange, we finally got our battery upon the condition it was indeed replaced when possible. At this point, I was surprised a “pack of smokes” wasn’t part of the deal.
We’re reading articles about public health CEOs getting perks like plastic surgery, cars, golf trips, and several hundred thousand dollar salaries and our hospitals are keeping waiting rooms full while medical professionals hunt for a $5 battery!?
Back during the provincial elections, there was one local debate in which the topic of “chronic pain” treatment came up. Apparently we have a problem in the area with long waiting lists and persons dealing with chronic pain + illness are struggling very difficult lives and not getting the support they need. A question was posed to the candidates, asking them what they’d do about it. One of the candidates, Brian White, had already found a very simple solution to the problem. He had previously talked to the local doctor who deals with this issue to ask what needed to be done and the answer was simple – if the doctor was paid to work another day each week, waiting lists could have been chopped down significantly.
It seems pretty clear that people’s lives here in Sarnia-Lambton could be significantly improved by moving money from the CEO perk and salary budget in Ontario into covering these sort of costs. Is the public hospital system designed to bring health to residents or wealth to a few?
Public healthcare can be the topic of much debate. However, whether you’re one of the millions of families depending on the services provided or one who would rather we didn’t have the system we have, it’s clear that it’s not going away anytime soon and millions of dollars will continue to pour into the hospitals.
One thing it does provide is an incredible opportunity to bring unity amongst all of us.
Rather than argue about our political or ideological differences, why don’t we stand together and demand that so long as money is being spent on our healthcare, that it goes to effective places where it actually betters our communities and effectively combats and reduces illness amongst us. I think we can all agree that taxpayer money that goes into healthcare is best spent on actual healthcare, not inflated salaries for overseers and extra perks. I have no problem with people doing well for themselves, but when it comes to taxpayer money, prioritization is needed. If you want to pave the road to an eventual million dollar a year salary, go work in the private sector.
Adam W. Young