I am one of many doctors raising the alarm on Ontario's health-care crisis. And I'm worried that nobody's listening.
What's worse, Bob Rae, an infamous NDP/Liberal political leader, tweeted dismissively about the crisis. It's shocking that he took something as complex as a broken health-care system and twisted it into a story complete with a bad guy and a motive in less than 140 characters.
That, right there, is some skilled politicking.
On @metromorning doctor kept saying "we're fighting for better health care" - OMA is a union fighting for higher incomes for docs. Period.
— Bob Rae (@BobRae48) February 7, 2017
And while I may not be anywhere near as slick as him, I can at least recognize it for what it is: dangerous.
Flippant statements about something as serious as a health-care system in crisis are dangerous. It lets people -- important people like those in government -- ignore the danger. And then, they don't have to fix it.
This week, the Liberal government announced new investments in health care. Naively, I became excited. Until I heard about the new Malignant Hematology program at Sunnybrook to expand treatment for blood cancers like leukemia.
They shipped patients across the border to get treatment that should have been available here.
Do you remember Laura Hillier? I do. She was a Burlington teenager who died because the waitlist for stem cell transplants was too long. The waitlist was so long that the Liberal government spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars outsourcing care to the U.S. last year. Seriously. They shipped patients across the border to get treatment that should have been available here.
Doctors saw it coming. They raised the alarm in 2008. Cancer Care Ontario agreed. And the Liberal government listened -- after Laura Hillier died. As the clock ticked, others died: mothers, fathers, children -- all died from a treatable cancer.
Think about it: Ontario's health-care system can no longer even cover life-saving treatment for everyone. The government stopped funding enough doctors, nurses and hospital beds back in 2008. And it's not funding enough now. Ontario's health-care system is crumbling because the building blocks of patient care -- doctors, nurses, hospitals beds, home care -- are all missing. And patients see it.
Former interim Liberal leader Bob Rae speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Mar. 6, 2013. (Photo: Chris Wattie/Reuters)
This brings me back to Bob Rae. As a lifelong politician, Bob Rae need never worry about waitlists. Should he or his family need health care that they have to wait for, our tax dollars give him the means to pay for treatment elsewhere. No waiting for Bob Rae.
It was not that long ago that Bob said, "I am Super Elite."
His recent tweet makes me wonder if he still feels the same way.
In the meantime, doctors like me have to look our patients in the eye every time the health-care system fails them. And we do our best to cobble together a plan to get by. But I'm sad to say, that it is happening more and more often now.
So doctors are raising the alarm. But this time, I'm asking for your help. Help me make this government listen.
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Former President Theodore Roosevelt champions national health insurance as he unsuccessfully tries to ride his progressive Bull Moose Party back to the White House. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
President Franklin D. Roosevelt favors creating national health insurance amid the Great Depression but decides to push for Social Security first. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Roosevelt establishes wage and price controls during World War II. Businesses can't attract workers with higher pay so they compete through added benefits, including health insurance, which grows into a workplace perk. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
President Harry Truman calls on Congress to create a national insurance program for those who pay voluntary fees. The American Medical Association denounces the idea as "socialized medicine" and it goes nowhere. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
John F. Kennedy makes health care a major campaign issue but as president can't get a plan for the elderly through Congress. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
President Lyndon B. Johnson's legendary arm-twisting and a Congress dominated by his fellow Democrats lead to creation of two landmark government health programs: Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
President Richard Nixon wants to require employers to cover their workers and create federal subsidies to help everyone else buy private insurance. The Watergate scandal intervenes. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
President Jimmy Carter pushes a mandatory national health plan, but economic recession helps push it aside. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)
President Ronald Reagan signs COBRA, a requirement that employers let former workers stay on the company health plan for 18 months after leaving a job, with workers bearing the cost. (MIKE SARGENT/AFP/Getty Images)
Congress expands Medicare by adding a prescription drug benefit and catastrophic care coverage. It doesn't last long. Barraged by protests from older Americans upset about paying a tax to finance the additional coverage, Congress repeals the law the next year. (TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)
President Bill Clinton puts first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in charge of developing what becomes a 1,300-page plan for universal coverage. It requires businesses to cover their workers and mandates that everyone have health insurance. The plan meets Republican opposition, divides Democrats and comes under a firestorm of lobbying from businesses and the health care industry. It dies in the Senate. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Clinton signs bipartisan legislation creating a state-federal program to provide coverage for millions of children in families of modest means whose incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid. (JAMAL A. WILSON/AFP/Getty Images)
President George W. Bush persuades Congress to add prescription drug coverage to Medicare in a major expansion of the program for older people. (STEPHEN JAFFE/AFP/Getty Images)
Hillary Rodham Clinton promotes a sweeping health care plan in her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. She loses to Obama, who has a less comprehensive plan. (PAUL RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress spend an intense year ironing out legislation to require most companies to cover their workers; mandate that everyone have coverage or pay a fine; require insurance companies to accept all comers, regardless of any pre-existing conditions; and assist people who can't afford insurance. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
With no Republican support, Congress passes the measure, designed to extend health care coverage to more than 30 million uninsured people. Republican opponents scorned the law as "Obamacare." (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
On a campaign tour in the Midwest, Obama himself embraces the term "Obamacare" and says the law shows "I do care." (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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