“Health care workers are a keystone in our society. They deserve to be treated well or we will lose them.”
By Linda McKellar
Posted August 17th, 2016 on Niagara At Large
(Linda McKellar, a retired nurse who emerged as an outspoken opponent of health care cuts at a time in the last decade when the Niagara Health System was moving to close hospitals in the Niagara municipalities of Fort Erie and Port Colborne, shared the following commentary with Niagara At Large in the wake of Ontario physicians rejecting a new agreement with the provincial government this August 15th on fees.)
How many workers in industry or other services would go two or three years without a contract?
Would industrial workers go on strike? Postal workers? Teachers? Cab drivers?
Now, have doctors ever completely withdrawn their services? How about nurses? There are several reasons for this.
1 – Health care workers are ESSENTIAL!
2 – Health care workers have ETHICS and a RESPONSIBILITY to the public. They could never, with a clear conscience, walk out on their patients. For example, if a nurse refuses to stay past her shift for a transfer they can be threatened with a charge of abandonment. They have patients, not customers. They produce health for humanity, not disposable things or produce for sale. People are not “products”.
3 – Try closing down hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices for a single day. It would be a disaster. Close schools for a few days or stop extracurricular activities and what would happen? A bit of inconvenience. People treat health care workers like they are simply obligated to be at the beck and call of the public and how dare they make reasonable demands for the life saving services they provide.
4 – What kind of hours do these people put in? Some have almost no private and family life at all. My doctor has offices in two towns and seems to be at one or the other from early morning until 7 or 8 PM. I’m sure he gets frequent calls in the night for emergencies. Does that happen to factory workers?
I can recall the nurse’s union (formed long after their trade and industry contemporaries) signing a contract three years after the old one had expired and, in fact, by the time it was signed, the new one had also already expired.
In addition, when pay equity was first attempted by the clueless government, nurses were equated with pastry chefs!!!!
So much for the value of health care. The government uses binding arbitration to settle these disputes. They don’t care how long it takes.
Something the public doesn’t consider when they think about how much doctors earn is – they have to provide savings for their retirement, they have immense educational bills to pay off after years of university, particularly if they are specialists. Some have exorbitant insurance fees (eg., OB/GYN), they must maintain offices and staff, as well as staff to do their paperwork. How many of us have all of those bills hanging over our heads?
Now, how about some comparative salaries?
Dr Eric Hoskins, the Minister of Health, costs tax payers, according to the Toronto Sun, $7.7 million annually when his salary, deputies, constituency office, communications and office operating costs are figured in.
Meanwhile, according to the same article, TVO’s host Steve Paikin made $308,000 last year. The Pan Am games secretary made $300,000. How many lives did they save? How many calls do they get at 3am? How many freebies do they get?
Health care workers are a keystone in our society. They deserve to be treated well or we will lose them by retirement or a brain drain to the US.
Is that really what we want or need?
We need more doctors, not fewer. Will we have to go to a US style system for doctors to be well paid as the government tries to abrogate its responsibility for our system? God help us if that happens because our health care taxes are FAR less than private premiums.
Our system in Ontario and Canada costs far less per capita than in the U.S. system thanks to eliminating the greedy private insurance company middle men who do nothing but collect cash.
According to 2014 international statistics, as a percentage of the GDP spent on health care, Canada is reasonably economical.
Canada spends about eight per cent of its GDP on health care. By comparison, U.S. spending ranks atthe top of a list of 34 nations in percentage of GDP spent on health care and ranks 38th for overall health care quality.
People here in Ontario and Canada often bitch about their doctor or hospitals but what would you do if they were gone?
Linda McKellar has been a Niagara, Ontario resident most of her life and a front-line hospital nurse for 40 years, working in ICU/CCU and, for over 20 years prior to my retirement, in the ER. She has also been a patient several times in Welland, McMaster and London, and frequently transferred patients to Toronto, Hamilton and elsewhere where she has seen conditions in other areas of the province and the deterioration due to government cutbacks in the health care system.
For a related story on this issue, posted this August 16th on Niagara At Large, click on –
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