One of the great unreported stories of the Canadian healthcare system is the avidity of hospitals to use limited taxpayer funds to hire lawyers, with the acquiescence of political leaders, in an effort to evade accountability or to silence families and others who raise inconvenient questions.
Ultimately, Canadians really haven't been giving much thought to the importance of charity transparency. There is a commonly-held belief that all Canadian charities are poor and desperately need money. In fact, some of them are surprising wealthy.
There is a medical emergency rolling across the land and into its hospital rooms. It is the epidemic of hospital medical errors that is literally killing thousands of patients each year. There are numerous reasons that have been put forth as to why there continue to be so many medical errors. Perhaps what is required is not a no-fault culture, but one where it actually becomes unlawful not to report medical errors.
Many Canadians have learned the hard way that their healthcare system is not nearly as safe as it needs to be. My family's eye-opening experience began a few years ago with the sudden hospitalization of our elderly mother, who sustained a serious brain injury after a fall. We knew this was going to be a life-altering event. What we did not anticipate was a second trauma caused by horrific failures during her hospitalization.
Over the last several months, the federal government has repeatedly thrown up the claim that theirs is "the most transparent government in Canadian history," even in the face of overwhelming evidence that it is categorically untrue. Even the practice of stomping on backbenchers who push for more transparency is nothing new for this government.
At present, Canadians are of the belief that the political class has sunk so far beyond redemption that little of importance remains in the Senate. That's an illusion, and deserves some further thought and reflection. While there are non-trivial problems within the Canadian senate, it still serves a purpose.
Since 2009, the Liberals have shuffled ministers in and out of the Ministers of Citizens' Services and Open Government role so quickly that there's hardly been a chance to make any meaningful progress.
There is nothing wrong with encouraging your fellow citizens to be involved in the political process by supporting candidates, voting, making donations, or even by trying to persuade them to vote for candidates more in line with your (and, hopefully, their) interests. All of these behaviours are part of a healthy democracy. Given the low voter turnout in many elections, more rather than less such engagement is required.
Our towns and cities do not function in isolation. They do not exist in a vacuum. Municipalities can learn from one another's experiences. More importantly, citizens can too.
In B.C. and across Canada, the past 12 months have seen information rights make headlines on a regular basis. And usually not in a good way. At the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, much of our year was spent (once again) in sparring matches with the provincial government over access, transparency, and privacy issues.