ONE VETERAN'S VOICE
by Wolf William Solkin
"TODAY and TOMORROW (?)" @ Ste.ANNE's (VETERANS) HOSPITAL
TODAY, It is reasonably accurate to say that, by and large, we Veterans at Ste. Anne's Hospital are still "enjoying the good life", with excellent health care standards, attentive and experienced employees, an effective staff-to -patient ratio, ready access to overarching medical and dental treatment, plus ample recreational/entertainment activities and facilities. The whole is embodied within a "hands-on" employees' culture of concern and compassion, to the substantial satisfaction of all of us on the receiving end of such bounty, which we now consider to be "normal". That is a fair assessment, based upon my personal experience, of the "facts of life" at Ste. Anne's, as they stand....."TODAY ".
BUT, and it is a very BIG "BUT" we are now perilously perched on the precipice of a very steep cliff, and will soon (next April Fools' Day ! ) be pushed over the perilous edge, into the deep, dark pit of the formal transfer/transition of Ste.Anne's from the caring hands of Ottawa's Veterans Affairs, to the clawing clutches of Quebec's Health Department and its heavy-handed Minister Barrette, whose main mantra appears to be..."My Way, or the Highway!".
"TOMORROW" is when , where , and how our pains and problems will increase exponentially, in spite of the well-meaning and sincere assurances from Veterans Affairs Canada, that nothing of significance will change for us here. Those soothing statements stem from the recently signed Transfer Agreement which, among other crucial concessions, commits Ottawa to pay Quebec a substantial " per diem" financial subsidy, to be used for the express purpose of providing each of us with our accustomed high standards of care.
So much so, to the extent that VAC plans to create and operate a "Two-Tier" system, wherein we Vets will receive a higher grade of care than the forthcoming "civilian" patients. Realistically, it is patently not feasible that such a duality of programs be implemented, with all of us housed within the one hi-rise building, containing only one clinic floor, one pharmacy, one physio/occupational therapy facility, one kitchen, and so on, unto one indivisible set of "common elements" (e.g., auditorium, library, , staff offices, etc.), albeit entirely administered and completely controlled by the Province of Quebec, as "The New Sheriff in Town"....starting "TOMORROW".
I I can but envision the ensuing confusion, confrontations and contradictions, as a re-make of the iconic "Abbott & Costello" classic comedy routine of "Who's on First ?....What's on Second ..?..
Why's on Third ?"...and so on , until major meltdown inevitably moves in.
I do not doubt the sincerity of VAC's belief that their "Dream Scheme" will work out as planned, but I fear that, before long, Ottawa (and we Vets) will be low man on Quebec's totem pole. We all know that the tail should not wag the dog, and that the fox should never be assigned to guard the hen-house, but that is exactly what I predict will happen to us at Ste. Anne's, on the morrow, unless "TODAY" we exercise our own due -diligence. keep our own eyes wide open, report our own complaints, protect our own rights, and defend our own way of life by speaking up, acting out, and participating prominently to mitigate what surely promises to be a traumatic transition...."TOMORROW".
If it is axiomatic that " only the squeaky wheel gets the oil", then just picture the possible production of petroleum we might be provided with, if we are willing and able to raise one helluva holler in the hallow halls of the legislatures in both Ottawa and Quebec, BEFORE "they" hammer the final nail to close the coffin of transfer tribulations, with us still inside, while there is yet some "wriggle room". And even after that, we must keep banging loudly on the lid until the public, if not the complacent and compliant politicians on our payroll , hears us and calls for our release from the potentially harsh conditions of our confinement, and the restoration of all our rightful rights,versus only some residual remnants.
We "grass roots" Veterans at Ste. Anne's MUST be included, in one form or another, as part and parcel of the Transfer/Transition process, becoming truly and directly represented on and heard by the VAC "Oversight Committee" and/or the hybrid "Transition Team.....to ignore that, would be the worst "oversight" of all ! Otherwise, we could well wake up one not-so-fine morning, only to find that Ottawa's subsidy for/to SAH has somehow mysteriously wandered its way over to some new bridge to nowhere, or some other obscenely overpriced construction projects, or (Heaven forbid !) even to some plump political pockets , or some bagman's snazzy sox !
In the final analysis , the bottom line is : who, in Ottawa , is going to be responsible for properly transmitting the "per diem" subsidy funds for Ste. Anne's Veterans ? ; who, in Quebec, is going to be responsible for disbursing those funds to Ste. Anne's ?; who is going to be responsible for keeping track of the application of said funds ?; who is going to be responsible for reporting any discrepancies , anomalies or just plain, old -fashioned fraud and chicanery ?; and to which body?; and who, if anyone, is going to have the full authority and responsibility for enforcing meaningful measures to rectify any wrong-doings ?
In essence, who will be charged, on an ongoing basis ( far beyond the initial three-year "guarantee" period), with the ultimate responsibility of closing the barn door before too many prized horses are gone ? Or, to go further forward with the rural metaphor, who on God's green earth will watch over the proper and promised use of the per diem dollars in the Ste. Anne's Hospital hen-house....the feral fox from Quebec, or the more fair-minded but unpredictable, fickle farmer from Ottawa ?
We must all be ever-vigilant and protest aggressively against various terms of the Transfer Agreement and its more roughshod regulations and collateral repercussions...of prohibitive parking fees for visitors , volunteers and employees...of less qualified and fewer staff, as linked to protection of seniority and retention of the very special current crop of nurses and orderlies...of inadequate security measures...of increased meal charges for all non-Veterans...of the potential for misapplication of private funds donated specifically to the Veterans for their exclusive use ...of who gets to enjoy the fruits of the SAH Foundation's labours in raising funds for the welfare of "their" Veterans, and many, many more factors that could well become "Game-Changers" for all of us who are here "for the duration".
Good faith and good intentions alone will not prevent us from being overcome by the powerful and destructive force of the Transfer/Transition Tsunami now on our near horizon. Our only chance for any survival at all, is if we work our bony butts off NOW, to preserve and inject more of what we treasure "TODAY", into what I fearfully foresee will be coming down the pike "TOMORROW" !
And, as ever, please remember to....
...LEAVE NO VET BEHIND !
A VETERAN'S VOICE: Intro / TRANSFER of Ste Anne by Wolf Solkin WWII Veteran
VETERANS' VOTES ARE VITAL by Wolf William Solkin
ONE VETERAN'S VOICE - A VETERAN AND HIS VOICE
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