A sound investment
It's been said there are about 127,000 volunteer firefighters in Canada; a staggering number, indeed.
We won't even hazard a guess at how much it would cost annually to replace these dedicated and selfless men and women with full-time staff. Lets just say it would be well into the billions of dollars.
Editorial staff at community newspapers in this province often interact with these volunteers, whether it's at their annual ball and awards night, at the scene of a major emergency, or chatting while waiting in line at the local convenience store.
They usually have a few things in common: they love their communities, enjoy the comradeship and take a genuine interest in the safety and well-being of not only their family and friends, but all citizens.
Many of us have attended emergencies where these volunteers, often in the dead of winter, are risking their own health and safety for the benefit of others. It's something to see. They also dedicate many hours to training and fund-raising.
Most volunteer firefighters are talented individuals who excel at improvisation, fabrication and "making due with less." These are much-needed skills in many volunteer fire departments, where limited resources and aging equipment often require a creative approach to keeping it all in working order and ready to respond.
And in many cases, the local fire brigade is often a crucial piece of the foundation that keeps a community strong and spirited and united.
What that said, we felt a nod of approval to the provincial government was in order. After many years of being dismissed and ignored by our elected officials, the provincial government is recognizing the benefit of investing public funds into volunteer fire departments.
Millions have been spent in recent years on the purchase of pumper trucks, rescue units and aerial ladders, and in most cases the communities are only asked to pay 10 per cent of the purchase price. This year alone, the province is spending $2.5 million for 11 new vehicles, including a much-need quint aerial ladder for the Carbonear Volunteer Fire Department.
These investments do more than just allow for the purchase of a shiny new truck and improve emergency services. They also boost the morale of the volunteers who often form the backbone of these communities, many of which are struggling to remain viable in the face of declining and aging populations.
Sure, it's smart politics, and we're confident in saying the politicians who get to turn over the keys expect to be rewarded at the ballot box when election time rolls around. That's reality. But more importantly, these volunteers are receiving a much-deserved show of support. That's something we can all be pleased about. Dear editor,
Germany, also known as the Federal Republic of Germany, is located in Central Europe. Germany is surrounded by the North Sea, Denmark and the Baltic Sea (North); Poland and Czech Republic (East); Austria and Switzerland (South); and France, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands (West).
During the Otto von Bismarck regime, Germany became the first nation on earth to implement some form of universal public health plan for certain German health consumers — low income residents and civil servents — in 1883.
Like Belgium, Finland, Great Britain, Ireland and Sweden, Germany provides a national universal health care system, including pharmacare, to most of its 82 million health consumers. However, Germany is unique among European nations in having a complex system of public and private health insurance coverage for everyone who lives within its borders. Certain Germans can opt into the private system, provided they earn 69,000 Euros ($87,675.17 CAD) or more for three consecutive years, or they can remain in the public medicare system.
The German population falls within three categories: public insurance based on income (74 per cent); voluntarily covered by public insurance ( 14 per cent); and those residents covered under private insurance (10 per cent).
The German public health care system, including pharmacare, is financed mainly by employee and employer “payroll tax” deduction Premiums, unemployment insurance and retired pension plan deductions, and general tax revenue. Certain German health consumers are “exempted” from any cost-sharing arrangements — unemployed spouses, children under 18 years, and people with chronic mental and/ or physical health conditions/disabilities.
For those Germans who are covered by the public plan, most have to pay anywhere from five Euros ($6.35 CAD) to 10 Euros ($ 12.71 CAD) for each medication they received. German health consumers, covered under the public insurance system, can obtain coverage to about 2,300 prescription drugs, and like Sweden, it is mandatory for consumers to purchase the less-costlier “generic” drugs that are available.
It is the German federal health ministry, and the 315 non-profit centres — Gesetzliche Krankenkasser — who administer the German public drug plan.
Like other European countries, Australia and New Zealand, Germany has shown that a national government can provide a national pharmacare for its residents. Here in Canada, Canadians have to pursue assistance from any one of Canada’s 14 federal or provincial/territorial drug plans. Edward Sawdon