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Ontario Elevator Strike: Not an Uplifting Experience for Patients

07/04/2013 06:05 EDT | Updated 09/03/2013 05:12 EDT

This is just a short rant by a resident of Toronto, and a medical doctor (me). Please take a look at the picture from a hospital below, and imagine an elderly patient trying to climb five stories to see his/her doctor in an outpatient clinic. Should this be happening in Canada, the country we love, where we respect our elders and care for the sick? Have service disruptions become one of the only few ways to conduct negotiations and resolve issues?

2013-07-04-ElevatorOutOfOrderTorontoJuly2013.jpg

There was a strike recently (from May 1, 2013, with a service disruption for all affected elevators until July 9, 2013), by the union representing the Ontario elevator workers. Thankfully, as per news reports, the strike has reached an end, and the International Union of Elevator Constructors says that the National Elevator and Escalator Association has agreed that all employees will be returned to work by July 10, 2013 at the latest.

Now, I am not interested in analyzing the details of this strike (why did this happen? Who is right? Who is wrong?), since I am just an ordinary citizen who wants to go about his daily routine, and one cannot worry about everything that happens in the world all the time. But I can sure share my thought that such strikes are not good for Ontario, and especially for hospitals in Ontario. I hope that such strikes do not happen again, and that God forbid, if they do, they will not affect hospitals.

Here is a hypothetical question: "What if the people responsible for the strike, or any of their family members fell ill, and had to go to some affected hospital for treatment? Would you or they enjoy climbing five flights of stairs or more?" It is not fair for patients to suffer because of disruptions like this.

For the future, I propose that elevator services in Ontario hospitals should be covered under essential services, and should be protected by the consequences of such strikes. Healthcare is an essential service. Please let us not allow it to be affected adversely by government, political, union, or corporate problems...

For now, I hope that hospitals receive first priority when the Ontario elevator workers / professionals return to work on July 10, 2013. I also hope that no patient in Ontario has suffered any serious distress, as a result of this strike. This was not an "uplifting" experience at all for the patients.

I will end, however (without taking any sides), by thanking the elevator workers and their management executives for doing what they do in normal circumstances -- maintaining the elevator services. We citizens may not bump into you everyday to thank you for your services, but we sure enjoy the elevator rides more than stair climbing, especially in this hot Toronto summer!

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