Thursday, January 11, 2007

Press Conference: Harper Loves Kids

Originally posted at Prairie Wrangler

You have to admit, Harper can be the master of political theater. Today, he gave a speech at Toronto's Sick Kids Hospital, regarding the development of a Pediatric Wait Times Guarantee for surgical procedures for children. Surely, this is a step in the right direction, unless, of course, you hate kids and want them to die on a waiting list. You don't hate kids and want them to die on a waiting list, do you? Good, glad you're onside...

The Globe:

"The federal government will unveil a pilot project today aimed at helping reduce waiting times for children's surgery, sources say.

But the government has earmarked only $2-million to $3-million for the project, an Ontario government source said, not nearly enough to make a major dent in waiting times.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Health Minister Tony Clement will make the announcement at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

Ontario Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Marie Bountrogianni said last night that Ottawa is making an "insignificant contribution" to the health of nearly three million children in the province. She learned about the project, involving information systems, after Mr. Harper's office issued a media advisory late yesterday about the announcement."

In fairness, it's only a "pilot" project, which is obviously going to cost much, much less then the comprehensive program. However, this is essentially a non-announcement that will be trumped up as "meeting a promise" to implement wait times guarantees, when in fact it's only a pilot project towards "information gathering" in a narrow field (pediatrics); kids will have to wait at least 15 months for any real guarantees, and anyone who isn't a kid, well, you should have thought of that before you slipped on a patch of black ice, old man.

This failure by the Conservatives has been highlighted in the past, as the only priority in the fabled "5 priorities" where absolutely no progress has been made. So is this progress on wait times? I guess technically it's progress, but it doesn't amount to much. The big challenge in implementing comprehensive guarantees will be to get the provinces to agree to whatever standards are set, and hashing out exactly how much it's going to cost the Federal government - I assure you, the provinces will absolutely not agree to pay for extra-jurisdictional treatment without further financial contribution from the Federal government.

Jesus, they can't even agree on the level of federal money going into a federal fact finding mission, calling it an "insignificant contribution". What the hell does Bountro care how much the Federal government spends on a measly pilot project? She doesn't, she just wants to make the point at every possible opportunity that the provinces need more money, not from raising taxes, but from the federal government.

Maybe I've been forever jaded from my thesis on the topic, but putting up with the provinces when it comes to passing the buck on health care is insufferable. In this field at least, we need a strong hand at the Federal helm, as the sound thrashing of Paul Martin in the 2004 health care summit attests to.

In any case, this wait times guarantee for poor wittle sick kids at the Poor Wittle Sick Kids Hospital is brilliant political theater, but largely without substance. I know Harper has been busy, but what the hell has Tony Clement been doing for a year?


Tramathon said...

Harper doesn't love kids. Just like he doesn't love immigrants or women. All he cares about are the white farmers who got him to power in the first place. This whole thing is a sham, just like the Clean Air Act.

Olaf said...

Well that was a particularly ignorant comment. Congrats!