A VETERAN'S VOICE: Intro / TRANSFER of Ste Anne by Wolf Solkin WWII Veteran
This new column is intended to be the first in a series of observations and comments about the considerable concerns of Canadian Veterans. Its primary focus will tend to be on the old(er), WWII and Korea Vets, with whom I naturally identify more closely; particularly the gang at Ste. Anne de Bellevue Hospital, where I, along with some three hundred and forty other 90+ year old ex-service men and women, are confined to quarters, "for the duration".
Let me introduce myself, by first avowing to you that I have the best interests of my fellow-Veterans close at heart, that what I say is sincere, and whatever you may wish to say to me in return , will always be respected and faithfully represented. I will speak for you and to you , and you are welcome and invited to participate in these conversations with your own thoughts, opinions and experiences, on any subject of value and/or interest to Canadian Veterans, especially "The Old Guard". That goes for your family and friends as well, who might aso hold their own views about my views, and have (horror?) stories to tell about the treatment of Canada's Veterans.
Pertinent portions of my 'Street Cred' Include the following:
I am a nonagenarian World War II Canadian Army Veteran, on partial pension, yet sufficiently disabled to have been admitted as a permanent resident at Ste. Anne's (Veterans) Hospital, in Quebec.
I proudly served and saw combat as an infantry platoon commander with the splendid Algonquin Regiment (aka the "Algoons", of 4th Div.) in North West Europe, ending up well inside Germany on V-E Day..
I was then seconded to the D.V.A. in Canada as a Rehabilitation Officer, facilitating the discharge process of the first waves of men returning home , by advising them, with the empathy inherent in a true comrade-in-arms, of their (bare-bones) benefits and entitlements upon re-entering the slippery slopes of "Civilian Life".
Later, I acquired a Master's Degree in Social Work at the University of Toronto, based on my having joined up while still an under-grad at McGill. I subsequently switched to a more "meat-and-potatoes" business career path, necessitated by the need to feed a family of five.
I have been in my new home at Ste. Anne's Hospital for almost two years now, during which time I became a Director of the Residents' Committee, and Editor-in-Chief of what I personally conceived, created and developed into a highly lauded bilingual newsletter, called "The Veterans' Voice"/ "La Voix des Veterans". This innovative periodical has been widely favoured and much in demand by the Vets and their families, as well as numerous volunteers and employees.
Regrettably, I was recently compelled to resign as Editor, necessitated by the egregious imposition of a new set of highly restrictive and totally unacceptable rules and regulations, which make a mockery of the words. "free press". Those onerous restraints were so extreme as to interpose and authorize a mish -mash of persons, (some of whom had never contributed as much as one comma or one minute to producing the "Veterans' Voice"),wielding absolute power to censor, control and cancel any or all of my written words at will. Further crass conditions required that a designated "Spokesperson" be present at all times to monitor and represent me at any media interviews or events. Nor would I be allowed to write or speak about anything "controversial", or political/government-related, or ask questions of any "external"/ public officials. Nobody, but NOBODY, should be so empowered as to be enabled to encroach on one's inviolable rights to freedom of speech and expression, in defence of which so many of us fought so fiercely. I therefore refused to prostitute my principles or compromise my integrity, on the unholy altar of institutional insularity and/or paltry, petty peevishness. Sadly, immediately following my resignation, that once successful and popular newsletter has suspended publication for an indefinite term, much to the detriment and at the expense of the many Veterans who eagerly anticipated each new issue, and who are now dismayed by being deprived of that positive and pleasurable experience.
No one else seems willing (or able?) to take on that responsibility, despite the Pyrrhic victory of the campaign to morph the once tvigorous "Veterans' Voice" into a mere whimpering whisper of vacuous vignettes.
All of which has now led me, here and now, to this pivotal point in my primary purpose: to protect and uphold the rights of our Veterans, enhance their over-arching health and welfare services , defend their dignity, and be vigilant and unyielding in ensuring the high level of care and comfort they need to live a life replete with value and respect, which they have dearly earned at such great cost and sacrifice. This column is meant to serve as every concerned Vet's eyes, ears and voice, and to give one and all an ongoing opportunity to know what they should rightly know, hear what they need to hear, and say what they want to say, all for the betterment of us all.
For this special privilege to participate in such an open and unique exchange of ideas and opinions, grateful acknowledgement must be directed to the Canadian Veterans Advocacy.
So thanks to you, guys!
Among the many topics to be considered for future columns are the following few examples:
> #>What will be the impact of the forthcoming Damoclean "TRANSFER" of Ste. Anne's Hospital from Federal to Quebec Provincial control, In all its numerous and disturbing ramifications?
> .#> What frightful fallout could occur once Quebec's Health Minister Barrette imposes and implements his new and harshly criticized Bill 10's provincial protocols and arguable standards, including having rescinded the publicly promised "Stand Alone" status for Ste. Anne's Hospital, now lumping it together with several other unrelated health institutions?
#>Is taking frail and aged Veterans on ceremonial junkets to Europe a positive and rewarding idea, but with possibly serious negative after-effects?
>> #> Immediate need to Implement urgently required proactive (vs. reactive) Security Measures in all Veterans' venues and facilities.
> #> Etcetera, etc., etc.....including some issues about which our readers might wish to inquire, so please start / keep those cards and letters comin'!
That's it for now folks, but remember.......
LEAVE NO VET BEHIND!
Tech-savvy 91-year-old gives voice to veterans at Ste-Anne Hospital
Letter: Cpl. Paul Franklin's story made this Second World War vet very angry
TRANSFER TRAUMA. CENTRE(D) at. STE. ANNE'S (VETERANS) HOSPITAL
by Wolf William Solkin
You may recall from my introductory column that I am a WW Ii Veteran residing quite contentedly and comfortably at Ste. Anne's Hospital near Montreal. Heretofore, my fellow Veterans and I have had little to complain of; however, dark clouds are looming on the horizon, threatening to evolve into a tsunami of turmoil and chaos, which may soon strike our serene shores with a vengeance.
I speak of the forthcoming TRANSFER of the hospital from federal to provincial jurisdiction. When this happens (predicted to be signed before the end of this year and implemented early in 2016), we can expect to be trussed up and taken from the comparatively caring arms of Veterans Affairs Canada to the entangling tentacles of Quebec's Ministry of Health and Social Services, under the autocratic and absolute authority of the Honourable(?) Minister Gaetan Barrette, aka the "Bullying Bulldozer". That Transfer , among many other negative effects, will place Ste. Anne's Hospital completely under the control of the nefarious and almost universally opposed and much-protested "BILL 10", a major obstructive obstacle in the path of the still unsigned Transfer agreement..
There is a challengingly long (and sometimes dirty) laundry list of concerns, complaints, questions, quandaries, uncertainties and anxieties with which the Vets at Ste. Anne's must contend, both before and after the Transfer. I intend to address some of the most daunting issues in future columns, in the hope that some in the seats of power, be they situated in Ottawa and/or Quebec City, might hear and even heed my/our words.
Today's flavour of the month, by undeniably unpopular vote, is the above-mentioned bilious Bill10, a piece of lethal legislation which could well undermine the very foundations of the unparalleled health care upon which Ste. Anne's tradition and reputation were built.
An egregious example of Barrette's bludgeoning tactics is that, although two former federal and provincial health ministers had jointly and publicly proclaimed to the media their parties' pledge that Ste. Anne's Hospital would always retain its unique status as a "Stand-Alone" institution, he blindsided everyone by unilaterally pronouncing that it would, instead, fall under his Bill10 reorganization plan, designed primarily/ostensibly to cut the hell out of health costs. This will force Ste. Anne's to surrender its indispensable independence, becoming just one of eight health and welfare institutions haphazardly lumped together in the "one size fits all" mish-mash that will operate as the West Island CISSS. If the Quebec government can uncaringly ignore and rescind such a promised fundamental principle even before the Transfer takes place, what else will Barrette undoubtedly and unhesitatingly do and undo once he has complete command and control in his unyielding grasp?
Losing its "Stand-Alone" status will compel Ste. Anne's to adopt the comparatively substandard protocols and ruinous cost-cutting measures that now prevail across the province. The hospital will then be unable to sustain the high levels of care which our Vets have been repeatedly reassured will be securely safeguarded; which they so desperately need; and which, if I may make so bold, they damn well deserve!
Once Ste. Anne's is forced to comply with provincial protocols and control, punishingly lower wages, plus many other diminished rights and increased restraints, that will inevitably prompt even more of our remaining experienced and devoted employees to take early retirement or abandon ship for a better work climate. Nurse-to-patient ratios could be seriously reduced; significant numbers of Registered Nurses will be replaced by cheaper and less qualified Quebec-minted "Nursing Assistants", unfamiliar with the special needs and problems of coping with geriatric patients, and alien to that particular mix of empathy, understanding, concern, compassion and commitment to their charges, which constitutes the core culture of our outstanding nurses and orderlies, who comprise the true heart and soul of this (for the moment) fine facility.
Rhetoric and purple prose aside, our thrust here is obvious enough: if the front-line "ground troops" personnel are dissatisfied and/or of poorer calibre and increased indifference, the ricochet effect of Bill 10 will concentrate its collateral damage directly upon the Veterans. They, in turn,will be deeply displeased, disappointed and defrauded by by the Barrette-born and bred lesser level of basic care and attention. That being the case, good intentions, public promises and federal funding notwithstanding, Veterans Affairs Canada will find itself inexorably incapable of upholding its first and foremost vow to the Veterans at Ste. Anne's, which is/was to continue providing the highest degree of care and stellar standards of service which have made Ste. Anne's what it is today...not just a cold, impersonal institution in which the few remaining reminders of WW II can survive, but a welcoming home in which they are encouraged and enabled to thrive, with the full honour and respect that is their due.
Rather than merely murmuring our/ your calm concurrence with this tempestuous tirade, let us all stand up to do everything we can to protect our Ste. Anne's Hospital venerable yet vulnerable Veterans, and their supporting staff, from the inexorable ravages of Bill 10, regardless of which province you live in. Write your Member of Parliament !
E-mail the leaders of the federal opposition parties ! Phone the Minister and Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada ! Stir up your Royal Canadian Legion Branch along with the Provincial and Dominion Commands ! Talk it up at your Regimental or Service Branch/Veterans Association ! Have your Kiwanis Club or other Service Organization undertake the welfare of our band of brothers as one of their prime projects ! Above all, if you reside in Quebec, be sure to communicate your feelings to your own Member of the National Assembly ! It would likely serve little or no purpose to try to gain entry into the obdurate minds and stone-deaf ears of Barrette and/or his solidly supportive bosom buddy, Premier Philipe Couillard....and to think that both once took the physician's sacred Hippocratic Oath with its everlasting and underlying premise of "Do No Harm"
Whether you do one or more of the actions proposed above (and suffer shame if you don't), for the sake of those who once did, but can no longer serve our country, DO SOMETHING ! .....MAKE SOME NOISE !
STAND STRONG for "STAND -ALONE"'
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