Wednesday, June 19, 2013

You say "tow-MAY-tow", I say "tow-MAH-tow"...

Never a shortage of things to talk about, is there, Nation?

Just a shortage of time in which to do so.

  • Health Care has been a big topic of discussion in Alberta as of late (yes, bigger than usual), with the announcement (re-announcement? re-re-re-announcement?) of 24 locations for Family Care Clinics to be set up...  eventually. I'm sure there will be an announcement.
  • Cuts to programming for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (or "PDD", for people who prefer to frame those cuts as attacks against the people rather than programs) have drawn a lot of ire from opposition politicians looking to draw media attention during the dry summer months.
  • Fred Horne went all "Chuck Norris" on the board of Alberta Health for their refusal to follow his instructions regarding pay-out of contractual bonuses to non-union executives. Critics have decried this as political interference in the management of the system. My father would call it a study in "the Golden Rule": He who controls the gold, makes the rules. And since it's MY gold - and yours - I'm glad someone is finally showing a willingness to say "No. Health - you've had enough cookies. No more. You'll spoil your dinner."

The last Health Care-related bit I wanted to touch on today is the insane argument I'm hearing about whether certain services should be delivered by not-for-profit entities, for-profit corporations, local organizations, out-of-province outfits... you know the one I mean.

Are we seriously debating this?

The service should be provided by the organization that can provide the best service with the greatest value to taxpayers. All stop.

To borrow a phrase from the late Ralph Klein, I don't give a tinker's damn if it's the local Shriners club or a giant health care company with headquarters in Chicoutimi or Cincinnati... can they provide the service, and can they provide value for our tax dollars?

It's that simple.

The front-line staff - the people on the ground, providing service - live in Alberta. Nobody's driving from Kelowna to Calgary every morning to work as a nurse. So the argument about keeping tax dollars in Alberta is a red herring - the people getting paychecks to perform these tasks DO live here. Beyond which, it's also a complete and utter distraction from what the real issue should be: Are people getting the quality health care they need, as quickly as is feasible? I don't care if the money goes to Drayton Valley or Abu Dhabi... the health system isn't a wealth distribution mechanism. It's a system built to provide medical services to the people of Alberta. Where the money goes is so secondary a concern as to be laughable.

I understand that people are concerned about their jobs, and the jobs of their loved ones. I would be too. But as a province, we have to accept that the health care system is broken. The days of it swallowing up every job even remotely related to health provision and making it a full-time, salaried government position are long past.

Can you provide the service, and can you do so in a cost-effective way, respecting that every dollar spent is a dollar that belongs to the people of Alberta?

If your answer to both questions is "yes", I couldn't care less what area code your CEO's business card has on it.

Let's get to work.