Two billion people watched Kate Middleton marry Prince William on Friday morning. The mainstream media and social media blanketed the globe with images of the bride and groom surrounded by wedding guests in outrageous hats and Grumpy Grace, the little bridesmaid who covered her ears to shut out the noise of the crowd. Some of us watched out of curiosity, thankful of the opportunity to escape the grim reality of political upheaval, financial meltdowns and environmental devastation. Others watched simply because they love the Royals. The point is if we’re interested in an event we’ll get up at the ungodly hour of 2 a.m. to witness history in the making.
So what does Kate’s wedding have to do with Albertans? Absolutely nothing. The real question is: what does Kate’s wedding have to do with healthcare? Absolutely everything. (I know what you’re thinking…let’s see how she gets there from here). Consider this. Everyone on the planet knew every last detail about Kate’s wedding (well, except for the dress) and had an opportunity to enjoy the wedding with their friends through TV parties, chat room parties, facebook, twitter and email. Or if they wanted to enjoy it by themselves, they simply turned on the TV at 2 a.m. and watched the ceremony in the comfort of their family rooms, bundled up in a housecoat and fuzzy slippers. This demonstrates the awesome power of the media to unite a segment of the population with a common interest.
We in Alberta have a common interest. It’s not glamorous like Kate’s wedding. It’s deadly serious. Over the last 12 months we’ve learned that Albertans spend more per capita on healthcare but get less in the way of services than anyone else in Canada. We’ve also learned that this conundrum of over-spending and under-delivering (which signals gross mismanagement in my view) is further exacerbated by a toxic work environment that silences doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers who dare to advocate for better healthcare delivery.
A public inquiry into the whole mess is required. But notwithstanding the call for a public inquiry from the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) which represents 6500 doctors, the Health Sciences Association of Alberta which represents 21,000 healthcare professionals, the opposition parties and the general public, the Premier and the Health Minister have stubbornly refused to consider the suggestion.
It’s clear that if we do nothing the Conservatives will stonewall their way through this Legislative Session in the hope that the issue will die over the summer. So what do we do other than grabbing torches and pitchforks and taking to the streets. How about this: we use mainstream media and social media to send the Health Minister a very clear message.
Surely we can expend 1% of the energy we used following Kate’s wedding (for the men in the crowd substitute watching 2 men brawling on the ice in padded hockey gear) and make our voices heard. Here’s the plan:
Send an email to the Premier, the Health Minister, your MLA saying:
- You agree with the AMA, the Health Sciences Association and the politicians who say that a public inquiry is the only legitimate way to investigate the culture of intimidation
- You’re very concerned (or appalled depending on your mood) by about the Health Minister’s refusal to call a public inquiry
- This is a critical issue and you will ask every candidate standing for election in your riding where they stand on it and will cast your vote accordingly
Copy your email to the following people in a show of support:
- Dr Patrick White, AMA President, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Heather Smith, President of the United Nurses of Alberta, ProvincialOffice@una.ab.ca
- Elizabeth Ballerman, President, Health Sciences Association, email@example.com
- Dr David Swann, Liberal Leader
- Dave Taylor, Alberta Party
- Heather Forsythe, Wildrose
- Brian Mason, NDP
Copy your email to the newspapers who’ve continued to cover this story. They need to know that the public is still interested or they’ll turn their attention elsewhere:
Lastly, for those of you who blog, facebook and tweet, now’s the time to put that skill to good use. Talk about the issue on line and post links to your letter.
As you may have guessed I’ve already started. Here’s the link to my letter to the editor which appeared in the Calgary Herald on Apr 28, 2011. Now I’m sending it to the Premier, the Health Minister and all of the others on this list.
It’s time to show the government that we will invest at least as much time protecting democracy, transparency and accountability as we will spend watching Kate’s wedding.
Dear Susan. I feel like I am the only person in Canada who did NOT watch that blooming wedding. Now, the Canucks in the Stanley Cup playoffs, that`s a different story. I`m a BC resident and have concerns about healthcare. I`ve been living in Victoria for 10 years and have yet to find a family doctor. I`m wishing I hadn`t given up my doctor in Nanaimo. You have an amazing committment to the improvement of Alberta`s healthcare. You give me hope that we have not become a lackadaisical society and people will “do something“, email, tweet, blog or Facebook. One day it will be our turn, we`ll be that elderly man or woman, hunched in a wheelchair pushed to one corner in a hospital foyer. At that age it will be too late for us to think that we should have done something. Stay strong. Others are watching from BC.
Joanna, thanks for the words of encouragement. I’m convinced that if we demonstrate to the government that we’re not about to give up and go away, the government will eventually respond in a productive manner. Even they must recognize that it will be cheaper and certainly more politically expedient to fix the problem now rather than wait until it’s grown even more unmanageable.
PS. About Kate’s wedding…the best part was those goofy hats!