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Correction: The Health Minister is not capable of common sense solutions

Earlier this year, in an editorial, I wrote the new Minister of Health, Gene Zwozdesky, seemed like a reasonable man capable of making common sense decisions. I take it back. All of it.

Earlier this year, in an editorial, I wrote the new Minister of Health, Gene Zwozdesky, seemed like a reasonable man capable of making common sense decisions.

I take it back. All of it.

When the ‘Wizard of Zwoz’ arrived at his current post, he immediately over-turned several decisions made by various Health and Wellness bureaucrats, rescuing 300 acute care beds from closure and freezing plans to buy out in-demand workers.

I mistook these steps as leadership. I apologize.

Like so many others, I let this new minister lead me down the yellow-brick-road of hope. For a glorious moment, I believed that an elected official within the uninspired Stelmach government could actually make a decision without kowtowing to the administrative pencil pushers.

Again, I was wrong. I am sorry.

Airdrie will lose its integrated ambulance and firefighting service, despite the fact that it provides superior response times and costs less for taxpayers than the system the Province intends to put in place.

Over the last few months, the minister met with local officials and was warned, asked and begged not to split up a service that makes so much sense. Instead of dealing with the issue, he ran and hid, refusing to answer for his ludicrous decision.

And, when it came time for someone to sit down with council at a public meeting, he dispatched four company lemmings to do his dirty work for him. We might as well refer to them as the three stooges, because the fourth never said a word.

When asked what sort of response times the Province would aim for with its newly amputated ambulance system, stooge number one stole a page from his boss and ran as far and fast as he could.

“We do not have stated goals,” said stooge number one. “We are working towards patient outcomes. The goal is to get to time-critical calls as soon as possible.”

The truth is that when the Province took over ambulance service in Calgary, response times rose. According to a Calgary Herald story, the number of “unacceptable response time” rose to 35 per cent, up from 22 per cent the year before. Think about that statistic the next time you hear of a friend, neighbour or family member having a heart attack. Then ask yourself, just how magical is this Wizard of Zwoz?

Stooge number one also spent much of the meeting promising that Airdrie’s future needs wouldn’t be taken for granted. Like, for instance, Airdrie’s education needs. The same government, which is so hopelessly behind in building schools in our community that the students will be attending classes in libraries and staff rooms and gymnasiums and stages and schools built out of portable classrooms well into the next decade, is now in charge of ambulance service. What could possibly go wrong?

Airdrie’s mayor is obviously sceptical, and for good reason.

“We have a gold standard of service and we are handing that over to you and we hope you can uphold that,” she told the stooges. “As of the end of June, you will be accountable to the taxpayers of Airdrie.”

If that were true, I might have a little more faith in the stooges, the minister and their amputated ambulance system. But this government ripped up contracts with energy companies on a whim, in the process hammering the provincial economy at its most vulnerable point. This government went on to throw out its own anti-deficit legislation, despite its leader boasting that he would never take the province back into the red. This government cancelled senate elections purely because it worried it might lose them.

Oh yeah, and this government turned its back on an agreement signed with the City of Airdrie to leave the integrated ambulance service in one piece.

I’m sorry, Mayor Bruce, but this government has proven that it is not accountable to the taxpayers of Airdrie with regard to ambulance service.

This government isn’t accountable to anyone for anything.


Airdrie Today Staff

About the Author: Airdrie Today Staff

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