Blood Bags, Indignities and Sensitivity
Christopher C. Goodfellow
February 24 1999

"It does not take a long stretch of the imagination to think how outraged the premier would be if a full page ad were displayed showing a whole of one thing and a half of another with more personal relevance to him."

An outrage. The use of blood bags by any government in Canada to make such a crude analogy about spending is not only distasteful but it is, itself, vulgar and offensive for many reasons not the least of which is the psychological manipulation of the present fears of Quebeckers over their health care. But perhaps most outrageous is the lack of sensitivity to all those that have suffered at the hands of tainted blood.

To the current government that lets no opportunity go by to remind Quebeckers that health care is a provincial responsibility, it should be pointed out that if that indeed is the case, where were they in defending Quebeckers from tainted blood?

Where was the government when the gentleman expired from a heart attack this week because he couldn't face the wait in the ER?

Where was the government when a good friend of LaurentianWeb recently had to make a trip to Hawkesbury in the middle of the night with an acute kidney stone only to be sent home with pain killers? The next day involved a trip to The Royal Victoria in Montreal with one of only two lithropters in the region to be turned away again as everything was closed for the weekend. This individual was then admitted to Ste. Agathe Hospital that night.

This is madness. It is a terrible waste of resources as ambulances bounce from emergency room to emergency room. This is not rational management. It isn't even crisis management. It is clearly chaos. The situation is out of control.

And where was this government? Gloating over the blood bag ads? It is not at all clear if they are in touch with reality. This government is not thinking of its citizens riding around in ambulances in the night but at how to get at Ottawa.

The health system in Quebec is in crisis and this government persists in playing the political angle.

All these ads are simply sick and most especially to those who have suffered recently in overcrowded, understaffed emergency rooms. Not only do we think Mr. Bouchard and Madame Marois should be ashamed by approving these ads, the firm that conceived of this ad should be publicly identified as well for a total lack of sensitivity especially to the group of Canadians who did receive tainted blood because bureaucrats weren't doing their jobs. It does not take a long stretch of the imagination to think how outraged the premier would be if a full page ad were displayed showing a whole of one thing and a half of another with more personal relevance to him.

Sensitivity can be very, very personal especially when directed towards those least able to defend themselves when ill.

Today's response by Mr. Pettigrew and the federal forces are equally offensive to all of us. Most Quebeckers have had it up to you know where with our politicians waging what can only be desribed as a PR campaign with our money.

It is a very sick approach as long as any single Canadian sits in any hallway across this great land in need of health services.

The Quebec government would have us believe Quebec gets the short end of the stick every time. I'm pretty sure that won't fly any more as most people in Quebec are aware that in the end Quebec gets more out of confederation on a per capita basis than it puts in. More money, more federal jobs, more cabinet ministers, more mandarins. It is preposterous for the Quebec government to attempt to perpetuate this myth of Quebec as the poor cousin in federalism.

What is needed here is a level of maturity on both Mr. Chretien's and Mr. Bouchard's part and an acknowledgment that with limited resources, every effort must be made to stretch every dollar as far as possible in providing services to Canadians who are hurting and not in maintaining a bloated bureaucracy or friends' advertising or polling firms.

There is lots of money in lots of government departments that could be re-directed to health care and let us just start with a little advertisement in the newspapers this past week by "Le Conseil des Arts et Lettres du Quebec". Go to the website where you will learn that $46 million is available in grants and bourses to support the Arts in Quebec. From grants to free apartments in Paris and New York, it is there for any taxpayer to read in black and white. When push gets to shove in a society that has spent beyond its means for years, there are areas that will simply have to be cut to get us back into a competitive position as a country and a province.

We've had 30 years of credit card largesse that has now come to an end. The problems in the hospitals are the tip of the iceberg. Many other areas of government activity are falling apart and perhaps rightly so. A mature approach is one to re-address society's priorities and move forward with true constructive solutions. We do not believe Mr. Martin has turned the country around yet. He has made a very fragile start. The Quebec government needs to get on the same bus and work with the federal government and other provinces to the benefit of Quebeckers instead of always being odd man out at the table. It's an old, tired approach and Quebeckers won't stand for it, much less can they afford any more of this.

Save the staged indignities. Save the ads. The real truth is that there are huge items still in the budget that could be red-lined and some of those funds could be re-directed. Start with the OLF and the hundreds of "Regies" that we simply cannot afford. Health care is the number one priority right now.

We should all be ashamed to let the dialogue descend to these levels. This is a rich country that just needs a little mature leadership to get the priorities right.

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