MLA Cal Dallas isn’t fooling me

I was surprised and disappointed to see the paid advertisement in Thursday’s Advocate, placed by Red Deer South MLA Cal Dallas, apparently honouring seniors.

I was surprised and disappointed to see the paid advertisement in Thursday’s Advocate, placed by Red Deer South MLA Cal Dallas, apparently honouring seniors.

Besides a picture of Dallas, the ad expresses thanks to seniors for our “involvement and dedication to our province.” I have met Dallas a few times, and he seemed to be a sincere and sensible person. Now I have to wonder.

If Dallas thinks that an ad costing a few hundred dollars designed to “butter up” the old folks in his constituency can really make up for the ongoing assault of his government on the seniors of this province, he must hold a very poor opinion of our intelligence.

Some of the many concerns of seniors were raised with Kerry Bales, the new vice-president for the Central Zone for health care, when he appeared at a meeting of the Central Alberta Council on Aging on June 2. (The June 3 Advocate gave the event good coverage.)

Unfortunately Bales had no answers. He’s clearly not on the decision-making team. The decisions are made in Edmonton.

There is a serious shortage of long-term care spaces for seniors, but no plans to add any new ones even though the seniors population is on the rise. There is a determined move toward turning everything over to private operators, but no assurance of adequate regulation and monitoring. Hardly the way to say thanks to seniors for their “involvement and dedication.”

Then there’s the new Pharmaceutical Strategy.

When the first version of this came out before Christmas, there was such an outcry that the minister of health and wellness was moved to make some changes.

Now there is a new “fact sheet” being circulated by the government to explain the new version. The picture on Page 1 of two smiling old folks tells you for sure that the four-page document has been prepared by the spin-doctors of the infamous Public Affairs Bureau.

Perhaps there are enough changes in the new strategy to appease some seniors, but the new version, in spite of the smiling faces, is still an assault on seniors.

Moreover, it is clearly just another phase in the ongoing assault on the whole universal, single-payer public health-care system, that the Conservative government has been waging for the past decade and more. They continue to repeat the mantra that medicare is unsustainable and the system is broken. Then they continues to underfund the system and “reorganize” it again and again, causing endless confusion.

It is little wonder that the system is in difficulty – because that’s the plan.

When enough people are convinced that it can’t work, then we will see proposals from the care-for-profit sector, like those that appeared in the news last week, urging governments to enter into partnerships with the private insurance companies in order to save the system. We just have to look south of the border to know that that will not help the system at all, but it will certainly line the pockets of the health insurance companies.

Perhaps the decision to run an ad, cynically thanking us for our involvement and dedication while continuing to destroy the services we helped to build, is yet another brainchild of the Public Affairs spin specialists.

I guess we’ll have to phone our MLAs and the ministers of seniors and of wellness again to let them know we aren’t fooled.

You can reach Cal Dallas at 403-340-3565, Mary Anne Jablonski at 403-342-2263, Luke Ouellette at 403-227-1500, and Heath Minister Ron Liepert at 780-427-3665. Call the rite line first (310-0000) to get through free of charge. Then phone the opposition parties to tell them how you feel.

Don Hepburn

Red Deer

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