Friday, August 5, 2022

Politicians Are Responsible For Our Health Care System

Let's place blame where blame is due...

Seemingly you won't find a politician anywhere who will admit to causing the health care crisis in Canada. But history has a lesson to teach us: continual, decades-long budget cuts have long term consequences.

Circa 1973: the Davis government in Ontario started following the trend of "re-organizing" their health care spending, defunding institutions such as the Rideau Regional Center in Smiths Falls ON, dumping all 2,500 mentally and physically challenged residents onto the streets, who then had to depend on inadequately funded group homes and various hospital's out-patient facilities throughout the area. And that’s just one example of many other budget cut projects throughout Canada. Geeze, I wonder how the urban homeless street-people problem started? It's actually a no-brainer; ask any soup kitchen volunteer.

Following the corporate model of hacking and slashing at a budget with the purpose of finding more "efficiencies" through re-orgs, etc. is a fool's errand when it comes to health care, and only suits the short-term quarterly report mentality. Thinking that we can continuously do more with less with "fiscal restraint" is like saying we can eventually do everything with nothing.

The current health care crisis happening across Canada with over worked and burned out staff wanting to retire begs the question: why is no one recognizing the source problem of decades-long under-funding? Our health care system needs serious RE-funding if we want to save it from collapse. I'm not suggesting we re-institutionalize health care recipients; only that we should apply adequate funding to our current system that is circling the drain thanks to a half-century of blood-letting, which only encourages the refinement of a two-tier health care system, Tommy Douglas be damned.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Book Review: Rick Mercer's "Talking To Canadians" - a Memoir

There’s always a first time. A first time to buy a memoir, and a first time to read one. And—a first time to actually review one.  My gosh, I haven’t done a book review in 10 years, let alone of one that wasn’t fiction. My pen name/nom de plume/fake online character “George Wolf” of the POD world (Print On Demand) was a self deprecating drunk who reveled in handing out D minuses to scores of vanity press authors who knew nothing of basic publishing rules, such as “don’t rely on self-editing”.  So, all these firsts culminate in the joy of handling a professionally written, edited, and published physical book—no Kindles here; I love flipping real pages. And this book’s a gem.

Rick Mercer’s memoir “Talking To Canadians” is an engaging read to say the least; as Canada’s court jester, his candour and humour shine through like nobody’s business... I lost count of the number of times he made me snort out loud, laugh hysterically, and yes—shed a few genuine tears.  In case you’ve been living under a rock, Rick Mercer is a writer/actor/producer/comedian from St. John’s Newfoundland that is best known for his stints on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, and The Rick Mercer Report. His other accomplishments are too many to list here, but include a whole shitload of political satire that even had the country’s leaders falling all over themselves to get on his shows.

As a typical Canadian he’s polite, so his put-downs are rare... unless of course you want to classify harpooning America’s lack of knowledge of Canadian politics and geography as insulting. The memoir itself is a generously respectful and intriguing account of his life from childhood to the end of his stint at The Rick Mercer Report.  He leaves no stone unturned when heaping love and gratitude on all the people that touched his life in the various stages that it took him to become the success he is today.  

The memoir picks up pace the more you get into it, as it lays the groundwork for understanding the amazing successes and milestones he accomplishes.  From performing 150 one-man shows touring across Canada, to snagging an interview with Jean Chretien at a Harvey’s, to putting together two separate shows overseas to entertain our Canadian troops in the middle east, his account of how he got all this done held me spellbound.  And had me laughing my pants off.  To paraphrase Mr. Mercer, if he had pinched himself for every amazing feat he pulled off, he’d be black and blue all over. (Sorry Rick, I’m too lazy to look up the exact quote.)

You can google him to list all his awards and accolades, and there are many (25 Geminis for example).  Yet his humility and down-to-earth way of relating to the reader leaves you feeling like you know each other.  He’s a national treasure, and an iconic personality in the entertainment business and beyond.  I felt privileged reading his memoir, but he wrote it as though we were sitting around a pot belly stove eating a bowl of seafood chowder.  The last chapter left me wanting more.  Another first for me...

So Rick, what’s next?


Jim Hutchison is a wannabe author and reviewer who resides in Fox Cove-Mortier, Newfoundland with his wife Moira and Pumpkin the cat.