Editorial – Blame us all!

Jeff Burgar

On the surface, based on what little facts we have, Albertans should be absolutely disgusted with ongoing, and also recent, activities of Alberta Health Services.

It is more than just the handling of COVID-19 hotspots, like the Manoir du Lac in McLennan. It is more than misinformation that creeps out of places like the High Prairie Regional Health Complex and J.B. Wood Continuing Care Home. It is more than learning that health inspections of a huge, southern Alberta meat processing plant, now known to be riddled with COVID, was done by Facetime, a remote video Internet program.

These are just examples here in Alberta. We suspect they are not isolated.

What we have is a huge race to the bottom. A race to cut costs, to keep costs in line with all the other jurisdictions in the developed world. We now have a provincial government department that really has no local oversight in the communities in which it operates.

To use an old expression, chickens are coming home to roost. The dissolution of local health boards in the early 2000s and installation of the so-called Superboard has taken local accountability out of the loop. It is at the point that people do not know where, or to whom, to complain. It seems ridiculous an MLA like our own Dan Williams or Pat Rehn should be called about garbage in the front vestibule of a hospital, but who else?

There were warnings aplenty about workers from one medical centre in High Prairie working in other jurisdictions. Physical distancing? A joke! Then AHS laid down the law, right across Alberta. No more mingling. That was almost instantly rolled back with the discovery there were not enough people to fill all the jobs. Such stupidity and ignorance of what is happening on the front lines is far, far beyond unacceptable.

Alas, and sadly, the only heads rolling belong to patients.

It has to be mentioned, so many of us are at fault in all this. So many of us don’t want to change diapers of seniors, clean soiled beds and patients, and generally, don’t want to get our hands dirty. Manual labour is beneath us.

So, on the one hand, we elect politicians to keep an eye on things. Then we crab what a bad job is done when our taxes go up too much, or our children are encouraged to train for white-collar jobs instead of many blue-collar tasks.

Our deepest, heartfelt sympathies go to the staff, patients and relatives of everybody involved in Manoir du Lac. This terrible event, and equivalents across North America, was bound to happen, given decades of bungling of politicians and upper-level bureaucrats. Unfolding disasters could have been, and probably were by some people, predicted. Yet the herds of “leadership” all went in a different direction.

Will things change? Hard to say. In the highest levels of governments around the world, experts right now tell politicians, “Be careful. Don’t open too soon.”

Past alarms and advice from the same “experts?” Listened to by politicians? Not enough! And not enough! And now maybe too much!

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