Friday, February 8, 2008

Why do we blame politicians for giving us what we asked for.

We are in the midst of a provincial election and healthcare which is a provincial responsibility has become a major issue.

Well over 10 years ago our government in an attempt to control the "spiralling" costs of healthcare imposed arbitray cutbacks of 25% on the healthcare sector. This meant beds closed, nurses laid off and cuts in the fees of those groups of physicians who were less well polically connected. This was accompanied by a cut in medical school positions across the country because we all knew that health care costs were proportional to the number of doctors and cuts in nursing schools (not that anybody really wanted to go into nursing knowing that there were no jobs). There was even a move at the CofE to replace most of the nurses with "smart-aids" who could be hired off the street, trained on the job and only require a high school education, if that. The CofE actually paid a consultant 7 figures to come up with that one.

Now the chickens have come home to roost.

The large cohort of older doctors that existed in the early 90s are retired, the newer graduates do not want to work the crazy hours the older docs did, a whole generation of nurses has been lost and the population is larger older and as, if not more, demanding.

Now our current Premier was handed this mess by his predecessor. Many people are saying that his government deserves to be brought down for their lack of forsight. Now I am not to going vote for him but I suspect that his party will get back in on the backs of the evangelicals, who make up 30% of the population, and the rural voters who distrust the city folk.

But essentially what the Conservatives give us except what we wanted?

In the 1993 election Ralph Klein, the conservative premier campaigned on "Brutal" cuts in public spending. His Liberal opponent campaigned on "Savage" cuts to public spending. Ralph Klein won narrowly we got "Brutal" instead of "Savage" cuts to public spending.

During his first full term in office Ralph Klein eviscerated the healthcare system among other areas the goverment was involved with. He was re-elected twice with increased majorities each time. He actually got more than 50% of the vote and I believe once got close to 60% of the vote. These numbers are unheard of in Canadian politics (our current Prime Minister got 37%). So in other words a whole lot of people agreed with what he was doing.

During that time I would see patients pre-operatively and they would complain about how long they had waited and how many times they had been cancelled. I used to say, "You shouldn't have voted for Klein". They would then go into a tirade about how they had always voted Liberal. In most cases they came from rural areas where the Conservative candidate usually gets about 70% of the vote. So you can conclude that only Liberal voters get sick.

Now in his last election Ralph Klein actually lost seats. The main reason he lost seats was because an even more right wing party took votes away from him. In other words there were people who wanted even more brutal or savage cuts (maybe medieval cuts).

Now I hope like hell that the Cons lose the election preferably in a Richard Hatfield-like fashion but people should remember that the Cons only gave people what they wanted.

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