By James Breckenridge. I caught a flashy ad promoting Shaw’s 5:30 PM Global National program. The ad had clips from a story about an Ontario woman being denied medical treatment by the Ontario government, telling viewers to tune into Global National for the full story.
The ad really didn’t provide me any incentive to tune into Global National since anyone familiar with today’s media knows the probable form and content of the story. More importantly, they know what type of information the story needs to include but won’t include.
From the ad it was clear the subject of the story has a terminal illness; a terminal illness with a high probably of being among those illnesses classified as a ‘rare disease’; meaning treatment will be new (perhaps still in the experimental stage or in clinical trials) and extremely expensive.
With evident grief family and friends will speak of what a wonderful person she is, how terrible her loss would be, how sad/devastating the thought of her death is to them and how outraged they are the villains, the Ontario Government, refuses to pay for the treatment.
If there are children, there will be film of her great relationship with her children; of her looking ill and limited by the disease while the children look concerned and upset. There will be testimony of what a great and loving mother she is. She will speak of how she wants to live so she can “see her children grow-up”. The children will speak of how much they love their mother and how they do not want the villainous government people to make her die.
If the family has a dog (pet) there will be pictures of the woman and dog enjoying a wonderful relationship and testimony as to how it will devastate the dog is she dies.
The report will provide the name of the disease, how it slowly sucks away the life of the person with the disease and how there is a cure (or an on occasion successful treatment) but the government will not cover the cost – a cost the family cannot afford to pay itself.
There will be interviews with the villains, the Ontario Government officials who state that the Ontario government does not cover (pay for) experimental treatments.
The tone of the piece may evoke enough of a negative response that the Ontario Government, because it is all about politics, is forced to pay for the treatment.
Should the government be forced to pay for the non-covered experimental treatment, the tone of the report will be self congratulatory.
The information the report won’t include is who died or went without treatment because Global National caused the life of the woman in the story to be deemed more important than the lives of other Ontario citizens.
Healthcare is a zero sum game. When money is spent on something/someone not in the budget (the woman’s treatment) the money to pay for the unbudgeted spending is taken from somewhere/something/someone that money was budgeted for. The reallocation of the money to pay for the unbudgeted healthcare expense means someone does not receive the services that were originally (before reallocation) going to be received.
The same political reasons/pressures that result in money being ‘reallocated’, make the powerless, the unpopular, those unable to speak for themselves those most like to lose services.
Reallocation of resources has left the psych ward at Abbotsford Hospital overwhelmed. I knew someone who was on the waiting list to get into treatment for his substance abuse. As a result of this ongoing struggle his head was in a black and dangerous space. Recognizing how dark and dangerous his head space was we spoke of his need to go to the hospital if it worsened.
It did, he went to the overtaxed, overwhelmed hospital and was turned away. Upon leaving the hospital he killed himself.
Cutting healthcare does not require (or mean) cutting the dollars spent on healthcare. Healthcare costs continue to rise and unless the percentage increase in the budget matches the percentage increase in the cost to buy the same healthcare services as last year – you cannot buy the same health services as last year. Meaning health services have been cut.
As a consequence any ‘NEW’ services come at the expense of existing services – cutbacks or eliminations of those existing services providing the $$$$ to pay for the ‘NEW’ services.
I am not sure whether it is a result of ‘burying your head in the sand’ or ‘wilful denial’ or ‘refusing to think’ but people act as though they can have unlimited healthcare – without paying for it. Using “The government can find the money – if they want to” mantra. Ignoring that common sense and basic mathematics require the government have an orchard of money trees behind the legislature or Rumpelstiltskin in the basement of the legislature (parliament) spinning straw into gold to pay for all the healthcare people want but refuse to pay for.
Politicians – the government – are not villains for imposing limits on health care that have negative consequences, up to and including death, for citizens. Their villainy lies in protecting their jobs (re-election) and gold-plated retirement benefits at the expense of citizen’s healthcare and standard of living by refusing to tell voters something voters do not want to hear.
Refusing to address the issues voters don’t want to hear about does not mean the issues won’t be addressed at some point. It merely postpones the very painful consequences until government and citizens are forced, in the same manner as was Greece, to deal with the issues arising from economic and financial realities.
Telling ourselves that ‘Canada is not Greece’ will not stop the consequences of our spend, spend, spend, pay only a portion, borrow, borrow, sell the future of Canadian children – from coming home to roost or change how painful the correction of personal, corporate and government financial mismanagement will be
In running around broadcasting reports about the need for new hospitals, more healthcare, more education, more of this more, more of that……… without asking how we pay for those items; fostering the impression that the financial and economic issues looming over the future of citizens are the fault of government and have nothing to do with unreasonable demands from the public for services they refuse to pay for; not asking either Mr. Vander Zalm or Mr. Dix why they thought sending $1.5 billion back to Ottawa was a better idea than spending at least a billion dollars of that amount on hospital infrastructure; completely ignoring the financial and economic challenges facing governments………
……media has become villains in this drama, a significant part of the problem, a major impediment to addressing the issues and a threat to Canadians standard of living.
The motto of the media has changed from “all the news you need to know” to today’s “only the news you want to hear, and nothing you don’t want to hear.”
Media is all about selling the sizzle and ignoring the fact the meat is full of salmonella and/or e-coli.