In attempting to find an appropriate way in which to share my voice as more and more are raised in protest and demands for change, it can be tricky to stay in one’s lane while also acting as an ally and advocate of those with differing experiences to my own.
As such, I feel that the best way to participate is to magnify those voices who know about the things outside of my ken, while leading discussions about those things that fall into my wheelhouse/s.
I’ve been trying to list out the potential positive new directions that might come out of this pandemic and the changes we will have to welcome in society as we begin to move forward to establish new norms that will protect the population AND permit it to thrive and work safely and effectively.
One of the biggest changes I’ve seen cited over and over is the shift from conspicuous consumption that has been the go-to for as long as I can remember. ‘Needs’ are being redefined all over the place – and the inability to just buy for the sake of buying has been nipped in the bud. Those people we call ‘influencers’ are having a more difficult time finding an audience that has any level of ‘disposable income’, and I feel like a lot of people are thinking more carefully about what they do with their money.
This is good. Keeping up with nebulous Joneses needn’t be a thing anymore.
We are looking at all things differently as we weather the changes – and taking the time to learn about the lack of equity and equality that permeates our social systems. To my mind that’s a much better use of time than binge-shopping because a pseudo-celeb being paid to promote a particular product (and now one’s husband is running for POTUS? Save me Jebus…).
If we extend that thinking out into the public sphere, we can start to look at the ways in which our public spending must change as well. This pandemic as demonstrated the incredibly poor ways in which necessary programs and facilities are funded and operated – to the detriment of some of the most vulnerable populations in our communities.
Institutions that are run for-profit off the backs of people who require their services for survival cannot be permitted to survive the necessary rejigging of our public economies. Any services having to do with the care and keeping of human beings should not be run according to a model that ensures stakeholder profiteering.
I could cite multiple examples of this egregious practice, but the one that I can’t let go of right now needs to be addressed immediately in this province.
CanNOT. Should NOT be for the enrichment of shareholders. The institution of this model (and the refusal of subsequent governments to repeal its institution – there is more than enough blame to go around on this issues) was the first step on the slippery slope to privatized health care. DoFo’s government is insuring that the incline of that slope is getting steeper and faster.
He has repeatedly cut funding to our most vulnerable populations – the autism community, those who relied on basic income, students, citizens with developmental disabilities…
I was hopeful – if you can call any change coming out of the reality of thousands of deaths – that this faulty model and its inherent bad message would be heavily scrutinized and overturned at the earliest opportunity.
It doesn’t seem like that is happening. A few days ago he was talking about the imperative need to get to the source of corruption in the tow truck industry and ensure its complete eradication.
This cannot be allowed to stand. We know – WE KNOW – that the industry is heavily supported by Conservatives, who sit on boards that direct these things. Hardly surprising, given that the for-profit model was supported – arguably, created – by the former premier of this province whose damage is (as yet) unparalleled. He now makes well over $200 000/year sitting on the board (plus the stocks he owns in the company) of Chartwell – one of these shareholder-driven profit-generating ‘care’ home organizations.
I won’t even begin to discuss the pitiful pay that is provided to the workers in these places – often part-time (to save the shareholders having to pay out their pockets for things like benefits – including time off for illness) contracts that mean that the workers have to work in multiple locations in order to eke out a living.
The Boards of these places do not have health care specialists among their numbers. They are made up of bankers, real estate agents, investment corporations (hedge funds) – and lack seniors advocates or anyone who has any background in oversight and accountability – let alone gerontology or social work.
They describe themselves as a ‘real estate’ trust. They aren’t even trying to disguise the fact that seniors’ care is not top of their agenda.
How is this permissible? How is this a functional model that permits us, as a society, to ensure the best possible care – that permits the maintenance of privacy and dignity – for our family members as they age?
I didn’t want to live in a room with three other people when I was in university. My stint as a camp counsellor, sharing a tent for two months, ended when I was a teenager – and that sort of togetherness is not something I look forward to recreating when I’m in my 80s.
Oh these companies have great PR. Spin-people who create the glossy pamphlets that highlight the advantages of communal living for those who require additional care. Hired guns who set up photo-ops in which the underpaid staff wave to passing family members not permitted into the facility over the course of the pandemic for which they will ill-prepared. Vultures, all of them.
The prices commanded are exorbitant – and out of reach for significant portions of the population, who are then left to be claimed by the public system (such as it) which is even more under-staffed, under-funded and under-inspected under this government.
Their answer seems to be to be to permit MORE privatization in the space – without addressing the lack of oversight that led to the horrific situations in the LTC homes as the COVID-19 pandemic spread through the province.
I feel VERY strongly about this. My Dad spent much of his time in his last years working on advancing access and improvements to long-term care for older people . He would be appalled at the state of things – and would point to the abject failure of the current model that commodifies the lives of people – often those who are most vulnerable and in need of intervention.
In addition to the inherent crimes in a system that monetizes and profiteers from the care of our elders, for-profit long-term care is solid shove down that slippery slope toward privatized health care – a goal of Conservative governments across the board (check out what’s happening this week in Alberta, if you need an example).
The evident, complete and utter failure of private health care that is playing itself out to the south of us is the cautionary tale WE need to take on board. While this current government is not, right now, making progress with their mandate of privatization (in health care, anyway – education is another story – and another post) since the pandemic is slowing down the move to two-tier health care, LTC needs to be the canary in the coal mine that ensures that it is not permitted to happen.
In order to ensure the integrity of our public health care, we need to begin with the re-institution of integrity in LTC. We must deconstruct and rebuild the model so that oversight and standardization and equitable pay and quality of life are the elements of care brought into focus. Not the profit-margins of shareholders.
LTC should NOT be for-profit. Ever.
*I should add, here, that this blog in general, and this post in particular, in no way represents the opinion/s of my employer or anyone but me – and those who can see that people are not commodities.