Wednesday, January 13, 2010

CUPE And the Truth -- Not a Good Combination

It's been difficult to escape a batch of recent ads released by the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

In the ads an interviewer talks to people who are made out to be random passers-by in public places. If not for the atrocious acting on the part of the interviewees, it might even be believable.

The least believable of these ads is one in which a woman sings some undue praise for Canadian health care. This isn't to say that Canada's public health care system isn't due any praise, but rather that the ad in question intentionally skates over some serious deficiencies in Canada's public health care system.

In the ad, the woman recounts a story in which her daughter breaks her ankle while skating at a local ice rink. In her story, the rink staff call 911, promptly receive ambulance service, and her daughter is home in a couple of hours.

In no way is this an accurate portrayal of Canada's public health care system.

Anyone calling 911 for someone with a broken limb -- unless it was a serious compound fracture -- would simply be advised to help the victim to get to a hospital.

911 services wouldn't send an ambulance for such an injury. Even if they did, the individual in question would be considered an extremely low-priority patient. Any patients suffering from life-threatening conditions or injuries would be helped well in advance of this patient, inevitably resulting in a wait of several hours for that ambulance.

Moreover, ambulance services aren't covered by the Canada health act. Some provinces pay for ambulance services in cases where the patient's condition justifies the use of the service -- an ankle break wouldn't qualify.

When the patient finally arrived in the emergency room, she could wait more than seven hours for treatment.

Given the evident differences between the tale recounted in the CUPE ad and a little thing the rest of Canada likes to refer to as "reality", it would seem that some questions for CUPE are in order.

But as it turns out, CUPE doesn't accept any comments that question the messaging of their advertising.

Which is rather unfortunate. CUPE itself tends to obstruct any efforts to cut the costs of middle- and upper- management in Canada's public health care systems. The costs saved, if diverted to front-line service, in the form of additional doctors and nurses, would solve a great many problems.

But CUPE is far too interested in preserving redundant bureaucracy than improving Canadian health care -- or even allowing the truth about this to be told.

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