Do you remember Carlos Castaneda, the American anthropologist who started his career writing factual accounts on Mesoamerican shamanism and ended it writing fictional stories infused with magical realism? Stelmach’s year-ender interviews with the media indicate that he’s going down the same mystical path as poor dear Carlos. Stelmach is holding fast to his belief that there is no health care crisis and is confident that he and the PC’s will weather this storm. In his view no other party can compete with the PC’s proven results when it comes to overseeing health care (or the economy for that matter). Stelmach says the PC’s “…have a very good track record. This is a party that has had the trust and confidence of Albertans for 40 years…”; furthermore only the PC’s can be trusted to manage Alberta’s health care system. Brave words, but not a view that is shared by others.
David Taras, a political analyst, university professor and author, describes the health care system as “collapsing”. This is more than an opinion, it’s a fact. Consider a very simple metric: the number of beds per population. Canada has 3 beds per 1000 Canadians. This ranks Canada 26th out of 30 countries in the OECD, the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development – a group of countries which includes Australia, the US, the UK, most of Europe and South America. In 1995 Alberta had 1 bed for 400 people and today, as a result of the Tories aggressive cost reduction campaign, Alberta has 1 bed per 515 people—about 50% fewer beds than the rest of Canada. Does that sound like a “very good track record” to you?
But not to worry—Stelmach and Zwozdesky have a plan to restore public confidence. They’ve created an 8 minute video reassuring Albertans that there is no crisis and explaining why Dr Sherman was booted out of caucus. The video was supposed to be posted on the PC Party website last week. No need to go looking for it, it’s been delayed due to “technical difficulties”. No doubt the same “technical difficulties” that sidelined the emergency surge protocol for 18 months and the 5 year health care plan for 5 months.
I don’t know about you, but 8 magical minutes created by the PC spindoctors won’t do a thing to restore my confidence. Only a clear statement of accountability backed up by metrics—where we are today and where we expect to be in the future—together with a concrete action plan will do that. It’s either that or a handful of Castaneda’s magic mushrooms.