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LETTER: 'Bubble gum' won't patch health-care worker shortage

'We don’t need lip service. We do not need baffle-gab, double-think nor hot air. We need solutions,' says reader
2021-06-21 Hospital
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BarrieToday welcomes letters to the editor at Please include your full name, daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is about the ongoing shortage of health-care workers in the province. 

Most of us already know that the health-care worker shortage is universal. I don’t need my premier to remind me that this crisis sounds like ‘business as usual’, or that Ontario is no different from other jurisdictions. That does nothing to mitigate or rectify the emergency.

Nor do I need my minister of health refusing to acknowledge the government’s dismal record of proactively working towards alleviating this situation (or acknowledging there even is a crisis, for that matter). And we will leave the deplorable conditions of long-term nursing facilities for another time.

Indeed our provincial government leads us to believe it is taking steps, so it seems, to deal with these emergencies. And, in fact, it has. But bubble gum doesn’t patch the hole.

Suffice it to say that in all this, we don’t need lip service. We do not need baffle-gab, double-think nor hot air. We need solutions. Who has solutions? Those who are affected by the situation — nurses, doctors, personal support workers, paramedics they know firsthand what is happening and what is needed, both short and long term.

They are not looking at this crisis to save face; they are looking at it to save lives and to get the health-care system back on track in the quickest and most efficient way possible.

Will it cost money? Yes, sort of! Will it cost more in the long term if not fixed? Most likely.

Maybe money could be moved from other not-so-essential needs and plans (Highway 413, Bradford Bypass, buck-a-beer). Kind of like taking from the vacation fund to fix the roof.

We also need inter-governmental co-operation. In the initial stages of the COVID outbreak, it was gratifying to see parties on both sides of the floor (at least federally) agreeing on many situations and, in some cases, solutions. Partisan politics seemed to be suspended for the ‘"greater good."

Unfortunately, yet not surprisingly, someone realized that elected officials must return to their party roots and decide upon solutions that suited party policy and not the needs of the constituents and the general population. Opposition members need not sound off and argue for the sake of argument. There are many elected members, civil servants and citizens of all stripes with the ability and knowledge to share and combine expertise to aid in solving any of the situations we now face including affordable housing, health care, inflation, worker shortages, et al.

Again, the ones with answers and solutions were/are oftentimes the ones often left out of the decision-making process.

Consensus is a word often thrown around a lot these days, but it is also a concept that is not used in its proper context. If two people fishing agree to call it quits because their catch has not been good that day, that may be consensus; however, both of them were of the same mind in the first place. If one of the two says it’s my boat and we fish until I say otherwise, or if one says I’m done so I’ll just sit here and do nothing, that is not consensus. If one wishes to keep fishing and the other wants to quit and both decide to fish for another hour, that is consensus.

Often it is external conditions that will dictate consensus. Regardless of what the two persons think, if there is a thunderstorm, they will probably agree to head for shore.

Even in an acute situation such as we are facing in this ‘post-pandemic’ economy, governments don’t seem to want to spend too much time seeking consensus across party lines… even though we are in the midst of that storm… even though viable solutions and remedies may exist beyond the expertise of the party in power and those who have those solutions may hold other political beliefs.

The thing we have to remember is that it took more than one person to cause this condition. It’ll take more than one to fix it.

We're all in this together and together we must fix it. 

Alastair MacLeod