I’m still alive
As I write this column, I am in the intensive care unit at Markham Stouffville Hospital with a multitude of wires and tubes connected to, going in and coming out of various parts of my body, including my neck. I must look like some high-tech version of Frankenstein’s monster.
I had some heart problems on Thursday, went to Uxbridge Cottage Hospital and then was transferred down to MSH. I have lost count of the number of people it has taken to look after this one aging curmudgeon: paramedics, nurses, doctors, a variety of technicians and, in the background, administrative staff and food services. On top of that, I’ve been given access to the latest in health-care technology, such as X-rays, ultrasounds and CAT scans and round-the clock monitoring.
Hospital stays are never pleasant, but all who have had a hand in caring for me have shown me nothing but kindness, compassion and understanding. At times, it has been overwhelming. All this for one person. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what the total cost must be.
Lying in hospital gives one the opportunity to think about a lot of things, but it’s those costs that have been foremost in my mind. Surely, if I was presented a bill it would probably range in the thousands of dollars. Just for one person. Then I began to think about how the provinces are battling the federal government in an attempt to receive more money for health care services and how the federal government is digging its heels in.
According to a report by The Canadian Press in December 2016, the Trudeau government adopted the stance taken by the Harper government of reducing increases in health-care transfers to the provinces to three per cent annually from six per cent. They might increase that slightly, but only if the additional money is spent on home care and mental health services.
Many hospitals, including MHS, struggle with finances. The MHS website says: “Markham Stouffville Hospital must rely on fundraising dollars more than ever before. Government can’t fund all of our hospital’s needs.”
But it seems government can fund lots of other needs. In 2016, the federal government handed out over $1.38 billion (that’s Billion, folks) in funding to 50 companies, with $85,800,000 going to Chrysler. Bombardier received over $54 million and $12 million went to the Acadian Wild Blueberry Co. Twelve million, for blueberries!
Now, compared to the $36 billion in total federal health transfers to the provinces and territories in 2016-17, $1.38 billion might seem like a drop in the bucket. However, when one considers that most of the provincial governments also hand out subsidies to corporations, that figure would likely double. That’s all money that could go to providing health care to Canadians, instead of bolstering the bottom lines of corporations and increasing the bonuses of CEOs. Instead, hospitals such as MSH have to call out to the public for donations.
How many of those reading this column will make a donation? Hard to say, but I’d bet a dollar to a donut that it would be fewer than those helping to support multi-millionaires by paying top dollar to go to the Air Canada Centre to watch a hockey game or a basketball game and paying (last time I went, years ago) $6.50 for a Snickers bar. Or the multitudes who pay hundreds of dollars each year so that they can walk around like slack-jawed zombies with their eyes glued to some mobile device, oblivious to the world around them.
I know the health-care sector, including hospitals, have some problems for which they can be criticized directly, but it seems to me that our society has a really screwed up set of priorities when our hospitals have to beg for money and a blueberry processing company gets a gift of $12 million.
Tell me, am I wrong?
Editor’s note: We at the Cosmos are happy to inform readers that Roger is back home and has resumed taking up his regular posts at various coffee shops around town, getting the news and information that you need to know! Continue to get better, Roger, and thank you for all you do.