Reverse tax cuts to fund health care

Posted on April 23, 2017 in Governance Debates – Opinion/Reader’s Letters – Re: Overcrowded hospitals must get creative, April 16
April 22, 2017.   Paul Kahnert / Rob Graham,

When was the last year you remember that there weren’t any cuts to hospitals and health care, education, pools, rinks and all other public-sector services, not to mention the infrastructure deficit with our sewers, water, roads, bridges and hydro system?

How much of the federal deficit, since 1981, has been caused by corporate tax cuts and tax cuts that mostly went to the top one per cent?

For a long time now, we’ve been told to “do more with less,” to “work smarter” and “we can’t afford these public services anymore.” Politicians keep telling the myth that “greater efficiencies can be found by cutting fat from the public sector.”

We’ve been told for decades that “tax cuts will lift all boats in the rising economy.” Baloney. Only the luxury liners have risen and everyone else is sinking in their wake. Trickle-down economics has been completely discredited since Reagan introduced it. Back then it was called voodoo economics.

Why do we still believe this nonsense? It’s completely unsustainable. Reversing tax cuts for the wealthiest corporations and people in this country is not raising taxes. It is restoring funding to build a civil society.

Paul Kahnert, Markham
I do not dispute anything put forward in this piece. I work in a neonatal intensive care unit caring for the smallest, most fragile humans on the planet. The work is not without its challenges, but it is enormously rewarding.

While it is easy to blame politicians for hospital overcrowding, the truth is everyone who would crucify politicians for raising taxes shares equally in that blame. Hospitals have been turned over to bean counters who bring the capitalistic model of continuous productivity improvements into an environment that simply doesn’t work that way.

Our budget and staffing are dictated by workload measurement systems. Oddly, we are told that low workload measurement can result in staff cuts, but high measurements will not result in hiring more staff. Can you see the disconnect?

Every year we are asked to cut more. Our salary increases lag behind those of the private sector. I am well compensated for my considerable expertise and appreciate that. But it isn’t fair to ask those within the public sector to pay for the public’s reticence to pay for those services.

Health care consistently ranks as the most-valued piece of Canadian life, yet that treasured system is constantly pushed for greater and greater efficiency. That is fine. Reducing hospital beds is fine, but there must be sufficient support services in place to allow people to convalesce at home if they are to be discharged earlier and earlier from hospital.

Unfortunately the greatest disconnect within the system is the fact that nobody looks at the big picture, protecting their piece of the pie instead of considering the pie itself. Case in point: outreach education. We used to visit peripheral hospitals to improve the care of infants prior to referral and transport to more specialized centres. This saves the system money, but costs our institution money. It is no longer done.

Penny-wise, pound-foolish, just like discharging patients without support in place. The result is too often readmission and greater expense, but of course a readmission is treated as an admission, and hospitals get to report on “increased efficiency” because of “decreased length of stay.” It’s a shell game.

Rob Graham, RRT/NRCP, Toronto

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