23 August 2010

Survey: can Canadian baby-boomers survive our health-care system?

A heavy topic in today's newspapers. Each time the subject crops up the babyboomers are in for it again - taking the blame for the inadequacies of the system and the ageist attitudes of health-care workers, the media, and the government itself.

Following are three comments I have left in comments sections of various newspapers today, before I go off the local swimming pool to get some exercise.

It's no wonder people surveyed see the babyboomers as the ones responsible for the problems of the medical system. It's the only perception of this important social issue that news and opinion articles impart to the public. I don't believe the CMA really wants a national debate (see article - "on the kind of health-care system Canadians want"). Why, otherwise, have they waited so long to say this. I became interested in aging while a student at university in the early 1990's. Even then, we could see there would be a problem at some point, if nothing was done. And so now, finally, when Canada's citizens are riled up from reading about the problems "caused" by the babyboomers, the CMA says it wants to hear what Canadians have to say? One thing that would help would be if health-care workers did their jobs to the best of their ability (and got them in the first place on that basis - that they were good at what they did). (Canadians bracing, National Post, Aug 23, 2010).

Mary wrote "The health care system in Canada gives each patient a rating when admitted."

I had thought it was more informal than that, that it was the hospital staff, or the doctor's, who rated the patient according to the knowledge they had on hand at that moment. They must look at social ratings - does this person work, have children, a husband, own a home, or is well-established within the community. All these things count. Then, of course, we have to deal with the biases of hospital staff themselves. If I break an ankle, can I, an older woman without a husband, a job, or home that I own, expect to be treated fairly by an orthopedic surgeon who got his training at a university in Libya? Not only am I dealing with ageist, sexist, and class-based biases from people who grew up Canadian, but I also have to deal with foreign attitudes of the medical staff.

Being able to walk and have the independence that allows is important for older people. To have that taken away at the whim of the medical staff, and other health-care practitioners, is the fault of the attitudes that actually seem to be encouraged in our country. Canada is not a nice place to live, for many of us. (comment, Most Canadians, CTV, Aug 23, 2010).

pkmills (8/23/2010 8:57:16 AM) has hit the nail on the head. Not just politicians, but anyone who is not liked, for whatever reason - the work they do, where they live, their beliefs - can end up having inadequate or dangerous decisions made about them by health-care workers. It's such an arbitrary process that some people without insurance can get what they need from the medical system, without paying extra, while others just won't get it no matter how hard they try. I'm talking about people such as unliked political figures, people who raise controversial issues about society, immigrants, the homeless, the unemployed, and so on.

What I would hope is that people who work in the medical system would do their job as best they can, and not let personal or political biases get in the way. For older people getting helpful treatment in the community is not always that easy, when ageism and other factors result in games being played that place obstacles in the way of their getting what they need. In the end, what causes an unnecessary drain on the system is having increasing numbers of babyboomers who don't get the proper information and so become less able to remain mobile and independent in their homes and out of them. (comment, Survey finds, G&M, Aug 23, 2010).

4. added Aug 28, 2010
Possibly there's something to this 'Charter for Patient Centred Care'. It might seem obvious to most of us, but to citizens age 30 and under it might not. Just as every new generation has to learn the basics, perhaps this generation of young men and women in docs' offices and hospitals also have to learn. Hence the 3 items listed in the article.

If all health-care workers followed these guidelines instead of current norms in society which encourage the playing of mindgames and language games, and using one's power in whatever way one chooses, hospitals and doctors' offices would be better places. When there are no religious beliefs to direct a person through their lifetime - a sense of alienation, Marx would say - anything can happen. Health workers have the ability, knowledge, and skills for the job they are hired to do. So it's a matter of using them the right way to get the job done. (comment, Baby steps, Nat Post, August 26, 2010).

Aug 29, 2010
One of the ways people manage to silence the ones they wish would stop talking is to make life so hard that it becomes a real struggle to survive.

Continuous obstacles set in one's path take up most of one's time and energy. Some cause one's health to suffer. Even those who should be on your side end up benefiting by making life harder for you. When they can't win by intimidating, or by skillful or not-so-skillful manipulation of the English language, they do so by lying outright, turning people against you and destroying your reputation. I know people this has happened to. Some commit suicide, some suffer silently, and some conform and laugh about it while in public. Some kill. But still the world carries on, blindly. Why doesn't anyone listen?

Baby steps to better health care, but still a long way to go
By Tasha Kheiriddin
National Post Full Comment
Aug 26, 2010

Canadians bracing for health-care system 'silver tsunami'
By Meagan Fitzpatrick, Postmedia News
National Post
Aug 23, 2010
This article is no longer available; nor are the comments (April 9, 2012). See Edmonton Journal, below, for the article.

Canadians expect health-care strain as they brace for 'silver tsunami': poll
By Meagan Fitzpatrick, Postmedia News
Edmonton Journal
Aug 23, 2010

Doctors and medicare
Toronto Star
Aug 27, 2010

Most Canadians fear for health system: report card
By CTV.ca News Staff
Aug 23, 2010

Survey finds most fear boomers will cripple health-care system
By André Picard, Niagara Falls, Ont.
Globe and Mail
Aug 23, 2010

'You can’t be cured by an idea’
Toronto Star
Aug 28, 2010

Links updated June 2012

22 August 2010

Immigrants and refugees - and Canadians: cultural norms, health care and employment

Revised July, 2012

On the individual level, people from other countries can be lovely people, but what about our attitudes towards them in general, we - as self-perceived true Canadians, and what do they think of us and being in Canada? Furthermore, is it being foreign that matters, or is what matters what such travellers bring with them when they come - money, resources, access to culture in foreign lands, or important connections. Are foreigners disliked because we don't understand their culture or their goals in coming here, or are they disliked because they are strangers, a burden on our medical and employment systems, or just because they are different.

Ratna Omidvar claims that "While recent immigrants are more highly educated than previous cohorts and the Canadian-born, they earn lower wages and have more difficulties entering the labour market in the first place" (Immigrants want success now, 2010). I first became aware of this problem on the job at Western’s career centre, while a student. I spoke to immigrants who were waiting to earn accreditation in courses or exams that would raise them to the level of Canadians in the same profession, a really unfair situation, it seemed to me, with no easy solution at hand. Now I see things differently, having been unable to get the support I needed to follow through on a career, or even to complete my education the way I would have wanted.

Even Canadian university grads often have a hard time finding decent work, as opportunities so often depend on one’s family background and social network. If an immigrant can manage to enter Canada, through marriage or association with friends already here, or through having the kind of reputation that would do them good here, they can get a head start on a career. But to assume that any Canadian who has any ability at all will automatically find work is to ignore the politics of the workplace.

Nowhere is this more obvious, to those willing to open their minds, than in the experience of Marc Lépine, who was excluded from university as feminists opened up male-dominated fields of education – and the careers that followed - to women (Remembering tragedies of today, 2008). Whether he had merit or not, or the ability to complete the engineering program, is no longer the issue I once thought it was, as it takes something other than merit for a man or women to be accepted into program of higher learning and to get to complete it. Anyone who attempts to use Marc Lépine’s supposed lack of ability to do the work is indeed misguided, (and that’s giving them the benefit of the doubt).

One commenter said on Aug 20, 2010, in the comments’ section following Kelly McParland’s article (Poll shows Canadians are nasty, 2010), "Canadians are welcome to those that can come here and look after themselves and contribute. We're not and never have been welcoming to those that want to sit on our system costing us even more money."

But it’s not just immigrants who get accused of shirking their duty, being lazy, or not trying hard enough. Having to listen to the privileged in society, who got their careers going through people they knew or married or had relations with, or who their parents were, can be annoying. I know from my own experience, of being treated well and getting jobs I felt I deserved, and then later on in my life of not getting anything at all, despite the knowledge and ability I had acquired, that getting the job often has little to do with merit. There are dozens or even hundreds of qualified applicants for any decent job nowadays, but it takes something extra if one is going to be the person who gets it.

George Jonas uses four categories of immigrants: "gold digger," "exile," "homesteader" and "conquistador," which focus on the reasons they come here, or their expectations (Scenes from a Canadian gold mine, 2010). It was the fourth category he saw as problematic, and about which he wrote another article, Beware the colonizers, 2010, the title of which says it all.

More recently, ‘Sweeping Immigration changes’ (2012), tells of plans to address the criminal element in Canada, which threatens to ‘invade’ us, legally, that is. The last paragraph of this article also addresses other matters, to do with health coverage for immigrants and although unsaid, immigrants who might be applying as seniors for OAS. Two articles that address the immigration and refugee healthcare issue are ‘Health groups urge Ottawa’ (2012) and ‘Kenney rejects refugee health care’ (2012).  Not a word, however, on how introducing foreigners into Canada might be affecting opportunities for work, for Canadians themselves.

Beware the colonizers
By George Jonas
National Post, Full Comment
Aug 18, 2010

Health groups urge Ottawa to save refugee services
By Maureen Brosnahan
CBC News
May 18, 2012

Immigrants want success now, not tomorrow
By Ratna Omidvar
Globe and Mail
Aug 04, 2010

Kenney rejects refugee health care concerns from provinces, doctors
By Kristy Kirkup, Parliamentary Bureau
June 29, 2012

Poll shows Canadians are nasty, anti-immigrant SOBs
By Kelly McParland
National Post, Full Comment
Aug 20, 2010

Remembering tragedies of today and yesteryear: Oshawa and the Montreal Massacre
By Sue McPherson
Sue’s Views on the News
Dec 6, 2008

Scenes from the Canadian gold mine
By George Jonas
National Post, Full Comment
Aug 11, 2010

Sweeping immigration changes to give new power to minister
By Laura Payton

CBC News
Jun 20, 2012


Links updated July, 2012

13 August 2010

Cory McMullan: Belleville police chief victim of a violent incident

Belleville, Ontario, police Chief Cory McMullan suffered a broken arm in an incident one week ago. She says she was the victim of domestic violence, but it is likely that it was simply an 'incident,' using police terms, and not the kind of violence against women that so many women in society have to endure, due to powerlessness in their home circumstances. One has to wonder what her retired 53-year old husband has experienced himself, in this new kind of society where men are more likely to leave work early, while the wife continues the family career.

Mrs McMullan apparently stated that, "given her position in the community, 'it is important to acknowledge that I am the victim' " (Belleville police chief victim, CBC, Aug 11, 2010). But it may well have been that there were two victims in this case. It is hard to believe that the husband, retired police officer Dave McMullen, would use violence intentionally to try to control his police chief wife. If this was a situation of domestic violence, it wasn't the traditional kind that many wives experienced before they gained financial independence in their lives.

In my comment submitted to the CBC online article, at 8:53 am ET Aug 13, I wrote the following:

Eliza Doolittle writes, "I suggest we wait until the other side of the story is told before jumping to any conclusions."

The problem here is that her arm got broken, and in our society, that kind of violence is usually the deciding factor in any cases of abuse. Psychological, emotional, sexual, or economic abuse is less likely to be recognized, particularly as is applies to men being victimized. Our society has changed so much in the last 30 or 40 years, with women often working past the time when their husbands retire. We don't know the situation here, but we do know how difficult it can be for any man who retires at an early age. The woman, Cory McMullan, has apparently stated, "it is important to acknowledge that I am the victim." Like many women of today, and men of yesteryear, it may be difficult for her to see that there might be another side to the story.

Belleville Police Chief speaks out as a domestic abuse victim
By Natalie Stechyson and Adrian Morrow, Toronto and Belleville
Globe and Mail
Aug. 12, 2010

Belleville police chief victim of 'domestic incident'
The Canadian Press
CBC News
August 11, 2010

Belleville’s abuzz over police chief as victim of domestic violence
By Carola Vyhnak, Staff Reporter
Toronto Star
Aug 12, 2010

Domestic Violence’ narratives: the murders of Lois Mordue and Dave Lucio
By Sue McPherson
Sue's Views on the News
June 9, 2010

Ontario police chief says she was victim of domestic abuse
By QMI Agency
Aug 11, 2010

Public life, public victim
By Joseph Brean
Financial Post
Aug. 12, 2010
no longer available through this link

Added Aug 24, 2010

Belleville Mayor denies affair with police chief
Carola Vyhnak, Urban Affairs Reporter
Toronto Star
Aug 23 2010

Belleville mayor denies having affair with police chief
By W. Brice McVicar, QMI Agency
Peterborough Examiner
Aug 24, 2010

Belleville mayor denies rumours of affair with police chief
By Adrian Morrow, Belleville
Globe and Mail
Aug. 23, 2010
available online through Globe&Mail

links updated April 11, 2012