LOG CABIN CHRONICLES

Money isn't everything in Quebec, Premier Couillard

Posted 12.27.14
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The Christmas Holiday season may not be the best time to raise the question of money -- although maybe it is, since this is exactly the season of money. Cartoonist Aislin of the Montreal Gazette noted last week that Christmas shows Canada's true colours -- not Jesus, not democracy, not personal liberties, not justice, but buying stuff. And then buying even more stuff.

Cartoonists exaggerate. Money (and the stuff it buys) is very important, but it's not at the top of our values, although it may appear so at Christmas, with the shops and TV shows obscenely full of "stuff."

Premier Couillard agrees with Aislin, apparently -- that money is the most important value in Quebec life. Dr. Couillard says we have to cut health care because it has grown too expensive; we have to cut our education budget and school boards because they are now too expensive. Money is at the top of his list.

Our surgeon-premier is surprised at public resistance to all these cuts. Really? He's surprised that Quebecers value democracy, good health, an educated population and work force, a bilingual people, efficient infrastructure, a clean, oil-leak-free environment, and non-profit day-care? Money is not at the top of everyone's list, Dr. Premier.

At the same time the good surgeon has promised to create "the most transparent government in Quebec's history." Besides creating 250,000 new jobs.

Can't we put these togetherr, transparency and cost-effectiveness? For example, could he transparently explain the why behind Quebec's soaring health care costs? Why is our health system so expensive? He suggests it is because we have too many civil servants. That's fun to believe, but is it accurate -- and complete?

What about the high cost of medications in Quebec? Why doesn't Quebec join the other provinces buying medications in bulk to save money? And aren't all those palliative care patients taking up beds in hospitals and emergency wards running up expenses needlessly? Why not fix this absurd habit, rather than clamp down on the whole health-care system?

Slash and burn techniques may look like action, but they usually mean more mess down the road, because the root problems were never approached. Look at the feds under Prime Minister Harper's austerity rule: fewer jobs, fewer exports, more imports, flight of manufacturing...

Let's see the analysis that led to Coulliard's conclusion that we can't afford our health care system. Let's see some explanation of the role Big Pharma plays in running up health care costs. That's what transparency looks like, And, remember, money still doesn't trump democracy, nor the public good.

Reducing public services, community input, consultations, early education, and even bilingualism, is one lousy Christmas gift, Dr, Coulliard. And, say, if countries like Chile and tiny Cuba can afford free university education, there's something awfully non-transparent going on in Quebec City when we can no longer afford even our model child day-care program. Back to the drawing board, Dr. Couillard, not the butcher's block.

john@johnmahoney.com




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