Um, maybe there isn't a crisis?

Peter
Peter Jackson
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Here's a thought. Is it possible Ross Wiseman is not the most incompetent health minister since the dawn of recorded history?

The idea goes against the overwhelming tide of public discourse lately.

But let me play devil's advocate.

Yes, Wiseman deserves some of the blame for his media image. If he's inept at anything, it's his ability to handle himself well in front of the cameras.

Here's a thought. Is it possible Ross Wiseman is not the most incompetent health minister since the dawn of recorded history?

The idea goes against the overwhelming tide of public discourse lately.

But let me play devil's advocate.

Yes, Wiseman deserves some of the blame for his media image. If he's inept at anything, it's his ability to handle himself well in front of the cameras.

But give the man his due. He's not causing these problems. He's not even the only health minister dealing with them.

Even true crises, like the faulty breast cancer testing that led to last year's Cameron inquiry, have cropped up in other provinces. Quebec is only now grappling with a study that found unacceptable error rates with the same tests.

Cancer tests notwithstanding, most of the problems in health care boil down to a perpetual lack of funds.

In a submission to the Cameron inquiry, Toronto law professor Bernard Dickens wrote this, "The dilemma for provincial governments is that, under conditions of unavoidable scarcity, funds devoted to serve the health needs of one member of the public, through provision for instance of hospital services and health service personnel, will leave another member's needs unmet, or incompletely met."

We see this in action every other day. Someone falls just shy of a cutoff point, or they get caught up in an eddy of contradictory protocols. The health minister may eventually intervene, but someone else will inevitably fall through another crack. It's the price we pay for universal health care.

These stories are compelling, and they generate outpourings of sympathy and support. But they should not be used to pad a thesis that health care is in "crisis."

Chronic staff shortages and the fallout of the Cameron inquiry continue to pose huge challenges. But the system as a whole is still chugging along, wheels intact.

And speaking of the Cameron inquiry, remember all those questions about which minister and which political staffer knew what when? It appeared the government was blissfully unaware of the magnitude of the problem in the early days.

Well, last week, everyone had their knickers in a knot because the government actually did know about some further missed cancer patients. In fact, they were the ones who pushed Eastern Health to release the news, pronto, in early April.

When the news release came out - late on a Friday, with the meat of the story buried deep under an innocuous headline - Premier Danny Williams blew a gasket. He and Wiseman indicated they were as surprised and disgusted as everyone else.

Now, there's no doubt Wiseman was particularly disingenuous about the matter. He told the House of Assembly he was unaware of the new findings, when his department had been informed at least a week earlier. And there's some evidence that he or his senior officials had vetted the release on the afternoon it was sent.

But the real question should be, what is the government expected to do in these cases? Eastern Health is ultimately responsible for the news release, but the government can hardly take a laissez-faire approach after the lessons of the Cameron inquiry. Williams and Wiseman wanted the information made public, but Eastern Health still engineered the evasive manner of its ultimate unveiling.

This is a situation in flux. Eastern Health must establish firm protocols for unveiling sensitive information. And the government must establish its specific role in those situations.

The finger-pointing must stop - and that applies as much to the premier as anyone else. The time to get together and sort things out has long past.

As for Ross Wiseman, he may have an instinct for understating the issue, but that doesn't give the rest of us license to blow it out of proportion.

Peter Jackson is The Telegram's editorial page editor. He can be contacted by e-mail at pjackson@nl.rogers.com.

Organizations: The Telegram

Geographic location: Eastern Health, Quebec, Toronto

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Recent comments

  • Alexander
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    As usual Bert opens his mouth and nothing comes out. Enough about that. Great observations Peter most of us get it the Berts of the world find the truth too hard to handle.

  • Bert
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    Barry, Graham and the boys sure did a great brainwashing on you. Each item they write on these blogs say that Ross is only a mouthpiece for Danny . If it is said enough than people like you will buy it. Let me ask you a question if this is true and Ross is only a mouthpiece for Danny than why should you guys keep askjing the premier to fire Ross? You admit its not Ross's words but the premiers. Think little fellow, you can't have it both ways.;

  • Bert
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    Bones I do not believe that Graham wrote either of these columns. Why you ask? will I will tell you why, because he actually did not use any filth in his writing. Although it was the same rhetoric so who knows it could be him!!

  • Barry Hunt
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    Wiseman is only allowed to say and do whatever Williams tells him to say and do anyway. Danny says jump Ross says how high sir. People died while Williams and Wiseman lied and its still happening. Apparently many of us have no problem with all that as long as it dosent affect us. Why else would King Danny be so popular? The Williams way is to blame everone else nothing is ever his responsability. Wisemans standard answer seems to be.....I WAS NOT MADE AWARE OF ANY SITUATION THAT I MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN MADE AWARE OF IF INDEED THERE WAS A NEED FOR ME TO BE MADE AWARE......The best one is.....I CANT RECALL EVER HAVING BEING TOLD ANYTHING THAT I MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN ACTUALLY BEEN TOLD IN THE EVENT THERE WAS A NEED FOR ME TO BE TOLD ANYTHING AT ALL. No wonder theres NO CRISIS Mr Wiseman has it all under control and he has Williams seal of approval for everything he does.

  • Bones
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    What truth would that be Alexander? The fact that haters STILL argue with rhetoric and hearsay, or the fact that what the haters say has far less substance than they think?
    Truth is, the haters of our wonderful population are growing more desperate as time moves on. Despite their best, collective efforts, the King - not Elvis, is still in the building! LOL

  • Graham
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Bones if recall correctly it was one Richard M Nixion that started off every seach with MY FELLOW AMERICANS. Every time you come out of hideing to attack your so called Danny bashers or Danny haters you start off with MY FELLOW NEWFOUNDLANDERS. Umm we all know what a genius Nixon turned out to be dont we now. I was getting worried about you Bones so by saying anything at all I knew it would draw you out of your usual hideing spot and we all know where that is now dont we Bones. If you heard thunder where you say your head usually is Bones it wasnt the attack on me it was a f a r t from Danny. One would think your use to that by now. By the way why is Bones defending Bert and often Bert defends Bones. Ummm one of the same perhaps. Who knows. Better yet who really cares. Enjoy your day Bert Bones. I await your prompt response as usual. Please dont stay up all night waiting for me to respond again my job here is done. Now that I know your up to your usual form I can sleep well tonight knowing that you were concearned about me and knowing that Danny is watching over me. What more do I need? My life is now complete.

  • Bones
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Hahaha, now that's rich. Is Bert's 'attack' upsetting you Graham? Sorry guys, it was such a loud, thunderous attack, I heard it even with my head right where it usually is.
    ;)

    My fellow Newfoundlander and Labradorean, please do not call the kettle black, or throw stones in glass houses, or whatever other cliche would be appropriate, lol.

  • Bert
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Graham, I would like to tell you that Bones and I are the same person but I cannot take the credit for his writing. He can explain himself much better than I can. But thanks again for the compliment!!

  • Andrea
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Poor old Bert. Not much of a life you have is it. I will never understand the spell Danny Williams has cast on people like you Bert but whatever the hell it is it seems to work. You practically worship the ground he walks on. Dont walk too close Bert because lately the ground behind him is getting covered in bull s h i t. Wouldnt want you to have to go in hospital Bert you might have to spend 8 hours on a gurney in the corridor before someone can see you. Thank God Danny and Ross tell us there is NO CRISIS. I sleep mush better at night knowing that.

  • Bones
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Comparing me to Nixon? Hahaha, I though the first one was rich! You've taken it upon yourself to assume quite a bit of information. Your own assumptions are, frankly, so wrong, I am certain they must be contributing factors to your, overall, invalid claims and rhetoric. I don't have tunnel vision and am quite willing to read any documentation you have regarding the destruction caused by this administration. Blogs do not count, lol. So here's your chance........yet again.

    I'm glad Bert didn't upset you if that's what you were trying to say. :)

  • Graham
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    You must be desperate there Bert even when I dont say anything you attack me. Had no idea you would miss me that much. No need to comment anymore Bert knows what I will say even if I dont say it. Your a genius Bert. Now tell me the 649 numbers to pick for tomorrow Bert and we can go halfers on it. You know everything else so I bet you know that too.

  • Alexander
    July 01, 2010 - 20:25

    As usual Bert opens his mouth and nothing comes out. Enough about that. Great observations Peter most of us get it the Berts of the world find the truth too hard to handle.

  • Bert
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    Barry, Graham and the boys sure did a great brainwashing on you. Each item they write on these blogs say that Ross is only a mouthpiece for Danny . If it is said enough than people like you will buy it. Let me ask you a question if this is true and Ross is only a mouthpiece for Danny than why should you guys keep askjing the premier to fire Ross? You admit its not Ross's words but the premiers. Think little fellow, you can't have it both ways.;

  • Bert
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    Bones I do not believe that Graham wrote either of these columns. Why you ask? will I will tell you why, because he actually did not use any filth in his writing. Although it was the same rhetoric so who knows it could be him!!

  • Barry Hunt
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    Wiseman is only allowed to say and do whatever Williams tells him to say and do anyway. Danny says jump Ross says how high sir. People died while Williams and Wiseman lied and its still happening. Apparently many of us have no problem with all that as long as it dosent affect us. Why else would King Danny be so popular? The Williams way is to blame everone else nothing is ever his responsability. Wisemans standard answer seems to be.....I WAS NOT MADE AWARE OF ANY SITUATION THAT I MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN MADE AWARE OF IF INDEED THERE WAS A NEED FOR ME TO BE MADE AWARE......The best one is.....I CANT RECALL EVER HAVING BEING TOLD ANYTHING THAT I MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN ACTUALLY BEEN TOLD IN THE EVENT THERE WAS A NEED FOR ME TO BE TOLD ANYTHING AT ALL. No wonder theres NO CRISIS Mr Wiseman has it all under control and he has Williams seal of approval for everything he does.

  • Bones
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    What truth would that be Alexander? The fact that haters STILL argue with rhetoric and hearsay, or the fact that what the haters say has far less substance than they think?
    Truth is, the haters of our wonderful population are growing more desperate as time moves on. Despite their best, collective efforts, the King - not Elvis, is still in the building! LOL

  • Graham
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    Bones if recall correctly it was one Richard M Nixion that started off every seach with MY FELLOW AMERICANS. Every time you come out of hideing to attack your so called Danny bashers or Danny haters you start off with MY FELLOW NEWFOUNDLANDERS. Umm we all know what a genius Nixon turned out to be dont we now. I was getting worried about you Bones so by saying anything at all I knew it would draw you out of your usual hideing spot and we all know where that is now dont we Bones. If you heard thunder where you say your head usually is Bones it wasnt the attack on me it was a f a r t from Danny. One would think your use to that by now. By the way why is Bones defending Bert and often Bert defends Bones. Ummm one of the same perhaps. Who knows. Better yet who really cares. Enjoy your day Bert Bones. I await your prompt response as usual. Please dont stay up all night waiting for me to respond again my job here is done. Now that I know your up to your usual form I can sleep well tonight knowing that you were concearned about me and knowing that Danny is watching over me. What more do I need? My life is now complete.

  • Bones
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    Hahaha, now that's rich. Is Bert's 'attack' upsetting you Graham? Sorry guys, it was such a loud, thunderous attack, I heard it even with my head right where it usually is.
    ;)

    My fellow Newfoundlander and Labradorean, please do not call the kettle black, or throw stones in glass houses, or whatever other cliche would be appropriate, lol.

  • Bert
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    Graham, I would like to tell you that Bones and I are the same person but I cannot take the credit for his writing. He can explain himself much better than I can. But thanks again for the compliment!!

  • Andrea
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    Poor old Bert. Not much of a life you have is it. I will never understand the spell Danny Williams has cast on people like you Bert but whatever the hell it is it seems to work. You practically worship the ground he walks on. Dont walk too close Bert because lately the ground behind him is getting covered in bull s h i t. Wouldnt want you to have to go in hospital Bert you might have to spend 8 hours on a gurney in the corridor before someone can see you. Thank God Danny and Ross tell us there is NO CRISIS. I sleep mush better at night knowing that.

  • Bones
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    Comparing me to Nixon? Hahaha, I though the first one was rich! You've taken it upon yourself to assume quite a bit of information. Your own assumptions are, frankly, so wrong, I am certain they must be contributing factors to your, overall, invalid claims and rhetoric. I don't have tunnel vision and am quite willing to read any documentation you have regarding the destruction caused by this administration. Blogs do not count, lol. So here's your chance........yet again.

    I'm glad Bert didn't upset you if that's what you were trying to say. :)

  • Graham
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    You must be desperate there Bert even when I dont say anything you attack me. Had no idea you would miss me that much. No need to comment anymore Bert knows what I will say even if I dont say it. Your a genius Bert. Now tell me the 649 numbers to pick for tomorrow Bert and we can go halfers on it. You know everything else so I bet you know that too.