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.
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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