Con­fi­dence in health care needs a de­fib­ril­la­tor be­fore fourth quar­ter

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - OPINION - By Ryan Dahlman

There it was Oct. 9, tweeted out in the morn­ing and the MLA for Cal­gary-Aca­dia showed one more time why he is that one guy on your team that just can’t help him­self but get into trou­ble.

Of course Al­berta Health min­is­ter Tyler Shan­dro has been in so much po­lit­i­cal hot wa­ter you won­der how his ca­reer hasn’t been to­tally cooked by now.

But there he is, pay­ing no at­ten­tion to the in­vis­i­ble, steelyeyed stares from much of the physi­cians and nurses in the health com­mu­nity, pa­tients of all ages who live in small towns who are an­gry at all the changes and the stress caused.

Be­sides the gov­ern­ment, the only other per­son go­ing pub­lic is Con­ser­va­tive sup­porter Rick Bell of the Cal­gary Sun., equally as smug, Shan­dro and Bell both an­nounced with glee, an in­crease in the num­ber of doc­tors in Al­berta dur­ing the third quar­ter from July to Septem­ber of this year.

“For the first time in Al­berta’s his­tory, more than 11,000 doc­tors have reg­is­tered to prac­tise in Al­berta.

This rep­re­sents a net gain of 247 doc­tors over 2019 – a 2.3% in­crease,” said Shan­dro and added in a quick fact file that nine re­turned to Al­berta; 142 are newly li­censed who were trained in Al­berta, plus 139 are newly li­censed in Al­berta but were trained else­where. “This re­port shows that doc­tors con­tinue to choose to live and prac­tise in Al­berta in im­pres­sive num­bers – and for good rea­son. Al­berta pays more than any other prov­ince, has lower taxes, and now has the most at­trac­tive com­pen­sa­tion pack­age avail­able for rural and re­mote doc­tors in Canada… The CPSA re­port puts to shame the claim that there's an ex­o­dus of physi­cians, a false­hood backed by noth­ing more than a few NDP news re­leases, thin re­port­ing, and so­cial me­dia dis­in­for­ma­tion.”

Maybe with a lot of gov­ern­ments or min­is­ters, one would think, maybe there’s some truth in there, but with the so­cial me­dia at­tacks by such heat seek­ing mis­siles like Ken­ney right hand man Matt Wolf who at­tack, ridicule or be­lit­tle peo­ple who dis­credit their poli­cies, all of this sounds like the po­lit­i­cal ver­sion of a re­ceiver in foot­ball spik­ing the ball at the feet of a de­fen­sive back af­ter scoring a touch­down. A hockey player do­ing a vic­tory dance right in from t of the goalie he just scored on… you get the idea.

That’s the trou­ble when you come across ar­ro­gant, you will never get the ben­e­fit of the doubt. Right-wing, large and small “c” po­lit­i­cal par­ties and unions don’t get along. But in the 40 years of PC rule in Al­berta has there ever been this kind of bat­tle and this kind of an­gry and sad out­cry from physi­cians. As much as Shan­dro can point to th­ese stats, Sa­man­tha Myhr said that it takes time for a doc­tor to ac­tu­ally pick up and move out of a prac­tice.

When the gov­ern­ment passed Bill 21 late last year, it ba­si­cally can­celled the work­ing agree­ment with physi­cians lead­ing to a law­suit. Not ex­actly a trust­ful sit­u­a­tion. Or how about the June sur­vey of 400 Uni­ver­sity of Al­berta and Uni­ver­sity of Cal­gary med­i­cal stu­dents which in­di­cated that 79 per cent of those stu­dents were un­likely to pur­sue fur­ther med­i­cal train­ing in Al­berta; 91 per cent of those were un­will­ing to con­tinue to prac­tise in Al­berta upon com­ple­tion 87 per cent of cur­rent fam­ily medicine res­i­dents who are set to prac­tise in the next one or two years, feel the same way re­gard­ing prac­tis­ing in Al­berta.

So while Shan­dro’s stats look good now, what with the fourth quar­ter look like now that the Bill has been in full af­fect and doc­tors have had time to process the ram­i­fi­ca­tions? Merry Christ­mas rural Al­berta, try to find a new doc­tor be­cause yours has left.

Con­sider other signs like the late July sur­vey of the 13,000 mem­bers of the Al­berta Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion said that 98 per cent of the 8,900 mem­bers who re­sponded have no con­fi­dence with Shan­dro as health min­is­ter.

When the fairly right wing con­ser­va­tive PostMedia editorial board pens an editorial last week en­ti­tled: “Time for a new health min­is­ter”, you know you have is­sues.

How­ever, this seems like of no con­se­quence to Pre­mier Ja­son Ken­ney. Why? Be­cause Shan­dro is do­ing ex­actly as he is be­ing told. If one thinks that Shan­dro is the one com­pletely mas­ter­mind­ing all of th­ese poli­cies, strate­gies and changes to health care, they would be mis­taken. Sure there are ad­vi­sors, bu­reau­crats and lawyers fine tun­ing the lan­guage but ul­ti­mately, the luck(s) start and stop with Ken­ney.

And as far as Shan­dro’s pa­tient bed­side man­ner or the per­ceived lack thereof, again, look no fur­ther than Ken­ney.

Much of Ken­ney’s cab­i­net is out­wardly bold, maybe even brash which does three things. First, it dis­suades any­one who has com­plaints about pol­icy or wants to ne­go­ti­ate. Be­ing in the union or in mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment, one can see there is no room for ne­go­ti­a­tion. So you don’t even try. The UCP have an agenda and they are go­ing to fol­low it and there is no time or room for ne­go­ti­a­tion. For them, hav­ing no op­po­si­tion makes life much eas­ier.

Sec­ond, when you have that per­ceived ar­ro­gance, one tends not to care about what any­one thinks, tales of dif­fi­cult times make no dif­fer­ence to them be­cause they can’t hear it. See: hold­ing up hands to ears and half yelling “la-la-la-a-lala-la-la, can’t hear you­uuu!”

How­ever, the third thing that this in­ces­sant, non-stop of bully style of pol­i­tics does is that af­ter a while vot­ers just give up try­ing to un­der­stand or rea­son with them. Ba­si­cally, if the gov­ern­ment doesn’t come through and Al­berta health care qual­ity de­cline and the econ­omy doesn’t im­prove, peo­ple still don’t have jobs, med­i­cal pro­fes­sional build­ings are empty other than the ones who have U.S. style pay-for type of physi­cians, then Ken­ney may have a hard time con­vinc­ing vot­ers to give him and his team a sec­ond chance. Af­ter all, Al­ber­tans proved they can voted in a NDP gov­ern­ment af­ter four decades of non-stop Con­ser­va­tive rule.

How­ever, Ken­ney isn’t too wor­ried. He has un­til between March 1, 2023, and May 31, 2023 be­fore the next elec­tion is sched­uled to be called. Sure, Al­ber­tans are an­gry and up­set now, but they will for­get and come to love Tyler and the rest of the UCP right?

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