BONOKOSKI: Canadians want options to a failing health-care system

There was a big stink late last year when an emergency patient at the Ottawa Hospital — crying in pain from a back injury, vomiting and begging for a place to curl up — was told by a fed-up staffer to lie on the floor.

Witnesses spoke of gasps of disbelief coming from the waiting room.

Such is the compassion of a healthcare system on life support.

This Nov. 25, 2016 file photo shows the Ottawa Hospital Civic Campus emergency entrance in Ottawa. (Jean Levac/Postmedia Network)

A few months ago, I was coincidentally at the same hospital, likewise in pain from a back that occasionally goes wonky and, after seven hours of waiting and being told an X-ray or CT scan would be unlikely, I hobbled out.

My family doctor later looked at a copy of the report and smiled.

The report had “WONS” scrawled across the page which, according to my GP, is apparently hospital shorthand for “walked out, not seen.”

Funny now perhaps, but not funny then.

Last week, a poll by Ipsos commissioned by the Canadian Constitution Foundation, a non-partisan charity, showed a strong majority of Canadians support private healthcare when provinces fail to provide timely medical treatment.

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Telling a patient in severe pain to lie on a dirty patch of tile in the ER of one of the country’s top hospitals would likely qualify as a failure.

None of us is getting younger, of course. The Boomer generation is quickly entering its geezer stage, and being forced into a health-care system that needs both a radical re-think and for government bureaucrats to get the hell out of delivering it, will only exacerbate an already untenable situation.

As now-retired Canada Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin put it, “Access to a waiting list is not access to health care.”

But this is where we are.

The Ottawa Hospital issued an apology, of course, to the patient who was told to lie on the floor, although he was later provided a stretcher.

The excuse was that the emergency department was extremely busy that night — et cetera et cetera — and that the moment would be “used as an opportunity to learn and improve.”

But when a hospital is at 108% capacity, there is only one place to lay the blame, and that’s at the feet of the provincial governments where 40% of their annual budgets are regularly earmarked for health care, which is enshrined as a right under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

There is so much dissatisfaction across the country, however, that the Ipsos poll has 75% of Canadians stating that the Charter should allow patients who have been on provincial health-care waiting lists beyond anything that could be considered reasonable to be able to seek private treatment.

Support for this is consistent. It ranges from a high of 80% in B.C. to a low of 67% in Atlantic Canada.

In Ontario, in a poll conducted by Ipsos for Global News around the time the Progressive Conservatives were imploding with internal chaos, the No. 1 concern in the minds of voters was health care.

To 40% of voters, the state of the province’s health-care system was the major concern, ahead of the economy (35%), and lower taxes (34).

High energy costs, which were in the headlines for months as more Ontarians had their power cut off in the dead of winter for unpaid electricity bills, came in fourth at 29%.

Proper healthcare eclipsed all.

As Howard Anglin, executive director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation put it, “No one is Canada should be forced to suffer while waiting for medically-necessary treatment because of government rationing of health care.”

Or be told to lie in pain on an ER floor.

But that’s the sorry state Canada is now in.

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Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies