A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
Contact us at democracyunderfire@gmail.com

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Grey Bruce Area Heath Care

Previously published at 'The Rural Canadian'
This year has been a bit traumatic for both myself and some other family members health wise, non of us had previously not had much to do with hospitals and associated heath services till this year so it was mostly a learning experience. Being aware of horror stories detailing waits of many hours to get attended to I wish to tell the other side of the story that we have experienced in recent months.

In my own case, as briefly mentioned in a previous post back in May I had a stroke and it was touch and go there for a bit (or so I am told, I was out of it) and whilst there is little doubt that the emergency staff and doctors who treated me in those first few hours saved my life it is the nursing staff and other 'health professionals' I am going to highlight in this article. Whilst the Doctors no doubt have a large amount of input into ones care it is the nurses and other 'health professionals' that provide the hands on care and interact with us when we need care, my experience with these folks have, with very few exceptions, been outstanding! Not only was the actual nursing care in the ICU provided in a competent, caring and (most important and under rated quality) friendly manner and the same was true of the various heath advisors who visited during my recovery, the recovery assessors, dietary and lifestyle information specialists and so on. In hospital is not a place where any of us (particularity those previously healthy, or so I thought) wish to be but apart from being challenged by the food choices (I am a vegetarian which it turned out was a good thing as I lost several pounds which I actually needed to loose during the stay) it was not a bad experience considering the circumstances. I am howeverglad that I had a quick, almost miraculous recovery and was able to come directly home after leaving the ICU.

After this scare and having not seen a family doctor for many years we then went looking for someone to fill this role. Having 'regestered' with the Markdale South East Grey Community Health Centre a couple of years ago but never having gone any further (not having needed their services till now) we made an apointmet to see one of their 'Nurse Practitioners' and were pleasently surprised to learn that they held a 'clinic' at the nearby Chatsworth Township office two days a week. After recieving care and advice from the NP and Nurse at said clinic for severak months now I am pleased to report that we could not have found a better couple of proffesionals to attend to our medical needs. The friendly and accomidating staff have made an otherwise stressfull situation almost pleasant which given my record of avoiding doctors and check ups is quite something!

A cousin has had a similar experience with the VON nursing organization, receiving care and advice several times a week in her own home in Wiarton regarding problems arising from a past minor injury turned septic and poor circulation. Needing additional treatment she was referred to the Tobermoury Hyperbaric facility where she received intense but similar friendly and outstanding care over a number of weeks. Perhaps I was put off by stories of long waits and seemingly uncaring assessments told by others who attending a hospital emergency department but our experience with these particular heath professionals has been has been nothing but good. I do note here that unless one identifies an urgent situation or is already receiving ongoing care it is often hard to see a doctor or NP in a timely manner, typical appointments can be weeks or even months ahead, even longer if referred to a 'specialist', my thought has always been 'if I can wait for weeks to come see you then perhaps I do not need to see you at all!'. A little cynical perhaps and given recent history I SHOULD have made that move several years ago, a near death experience can result in a change in perspective eh!

Whilst I will not identify the particular individuals I have spoken about in this post I would like to give the following heath care professionals a hearty thanks and a 'well done and keep up the good work'. You know who you are........

Thanks to
The nursing and support staff at the Owen Sound ICU unit.
The South East Grey Community Health Centre Nurses and Nurse Practitioners and staff.
The Victorian Order of Nurses Grey Bruce Nurses and support staff
The Tobermoury Hyperbaric Facility Doctor and staff.

PS. Yes I am fully recovered and my cousin is making good progress. Perhaps this winter I will resume my commentary here at Democracy Under Fire! Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Independent Caucus's for the Senate

The Senate has just voted for a major shake-up of how members of the Red Chamber align themselves by allowing nine or more members to form a caucus, a substantial break from tradition that has historically seen the place organized along party lines.
A small but important step forward in my view, I continue to believe that we need this body to examine and offer revisions upon legislation proposed by the government (particularly majority governments) and any move to give more resources to “independents” and move away from partisan decisions is a good thing IMHO.

The motion directs the Senate rules committee to now formalize the changes, and then requests the internal economy committee — which effectively governs the chamber and adjudicates complaints — to draw-up budgets for these prospective new caucuses, to help hire staff for "secretariats" and pursue research projects. The motion was adopted by a voice vote, so it is not clear how much support it had from the existing parties.
Now if only “independent” and minority caucus's in the House of Commons could get equal access to resources for their MP's

Because he faced a significant list of vacancies when he assumed office, Trudeau has been able to appoint a large number of new senators in a relatively short time through a "merit-based" application process. In the last year alone, 27 senators have been appointed and a further 11 senators will be appointed by the year's end (or 38 out of a total 105 senators).
Virtually all of these new appointees have joined together with a handful of other senators — who left the Liberal or Conservative caucuses for various reasons — to create the Independent Senators Group (ISG) led by Alberta Senator Elaine McCoy, who acts as its leader or "convenor." (The caucus definition change also formally brings the ISG under the Senate's rules.)
I note that Senator Elaine McCoy has been a self identified “independent” for many years, long before Trudeau started appointing “non partisan” senators.

Wells said while the new senators were appointed as Independents, they have since realized it is beneficial to caucus together to share money, staff and other resources.
I really hope this does not encourage the groups to morf into partisan voting blocks but simply encourages independent thinkers to cooperate and find consensus on matters of particular interest to them.

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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Preferential Ballot Recommended for New Brunswick

An independent commission on electoral reform in New Brunswick is recommending the province adopt a preferential ballot for choosing members of the legislature. The commission's report, released Friday morning, says that would lead to a legislature that is more representative of what voters want.

A preferential ballot "is a modest, pragmatic choice for reform that does not create its own series of problems, as a wholesale change to another electoral system would," "It also keeps things simple and easy, so that everyone can understand how to vote and that their vote really counts." the report says.
A modest, pragmatic choice for reform that was completely rejected by the recent federal committee studying Electoral Reform, however New Brunwickers should not expect a new voting system to be in place anytime soon as the dreaded Referendum word is once again being thrown about, not by the commission but by the government.

“Any government would have to have a clear mandate from the people of New Brunswick to make that type of change. A mandate could be seeked through a referendum, and it could be seeked through a political party’s platform,” Gallant said Friday.
Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs agrees. “The Official Opposition believes that any changes to our democracy must be decided democratically through a referendum or ballot question. Democratic reform has to be democratic,” he said.
The commission also recommended lowering the voting age and the age limit for being a candidate from 18 years to 16 years.

It says people who get involved in politics at a young age are more likely to stay involved, and it rejects the idea that 16–year–olds are too young to vote. "The commission was encouraged by the level of maturity and intelligence displayed by the young New Brunswickers with whom it met," the report says. But because it wants young voters to stay in school, the report says anyone 16 or older but younger than 18 wanting to run for office would have to have a valid high school diploma.
Other recommendations include:
  • Lowering the maximum donation of money to a political party by a person, union or business from the current $6,000.
  • Phasing out donations from unions and businesses after the 2018 election.
  • Creating a temporary financial incentive for political parties that nominate more women candidates.
  • Allowing non–citizens who are permanent residents to vote in provincial and municipal elections.
  • Teaching more about government, politics and voting in the school system.
  • Bringing back a law that requires parties to provide a costing of their election promises.
  • Moving the fixed date for provincial elections from the fourth Monday in September to the third Monday in October. That would avoid university and college students new to the province being excluded by a rule that says a voter must live here for 40 days before they can vote.

The entire committee was in favour of e-voting, but said government should not proceed with online voting at this time due to security, confidentiality and privacy concerns.

“I think it would be irresponsible on our part to recommend moving in that direction until such time as we have assurances that we can really have a safe, secure system that ensures ballot secrecy. If we don’t have those assurances we don’t believe the time is right,” committee member Alcorn said.
I wish then luck with this “modest, pragmatic choice for reform”, at least they have a firm understandable choice to put on a referendum ballot should they choose to do that!

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