What's in the news?
One of the perks of my work (and one that I am able to fulfill more completely in the summer) is making newspaper reading a priority, particularly those features that relate to the courses I teach and my research projects.
Here are a couple of columns that have caught my attention in the last week or so:
Column by Barbara Yaffee (June 14th) "Politicians can't shun health care debate". Yaffe makes the astute observation that politicians have been using (or not using) health care debates according to whether they think engaging in substantive debates and health care reform will get them votes - or not. She says "Health care ranks right up there with the economy and environment as public policy issues Canadians care about. But-have you noticed?-it's no longer being debated by the country's leaders". Yet, she goes on to say, people can't find family doctors, waiting lists have increased, and ERs are as crowded as ever.
The current lack of debate is in sharp contrast to five years when politicians were discussing a national pharmacare program, electronic health records, waiting lists, and home care services. The Health Council of Canada, a monitoring agency established at the time to track progress, recently issued a report Rekindling Reform that identifies the lack of progress on these issues.
Yaffee observes that political parties have lost their appetite for health care debates, recognizing both the expanse of the challenge and the low political returns. The Conservatives under Harper focus less on social issues, giving emphasis to cutting taxes and addressing crime. Both the Liberals and New Democrats, parties that traditionally focus more on social programs like health care, have also stayed away from pushing health care issues, focusing instead on the environment. She ends her column with an imperative we should push as nurses:
"It's unacceptable for MPs and MLAs to steer clear of the topic just because they don't see political advantage in it. The health council report says progress id do-able and it wants a renewed commitment from politicians. Public health care is the most fundamental and crucial service governments provide. It's time to start arguing about it once again".
This column caught my attention a few weeks ago, and I shared it with the 4th year nursing students in my online course then. With Canada Day just past, I am remembering that our national health insurance ("medicare") remains highly prized by Canadians, and one that we see as distinguishing us from many other countries.
And...on the point of how religion is lived out in Canada, a thought provoking column by Douglas Todd recently, noting that universities typically do not take seriously matters of religion. Todd's comments resonate with all of the reasons why I teach at TWU - a university where students are challenged to think deeply about the ultimate questions of life and to examine their faith from any and every angle. As a professor, I appreciate the academic freedom this represents, apart from the censorship of secularism that remains rooted in many universities.
I am loving the warm weather; and have also been thinking about the life events that make us who we are. Last week attended the joy filled wedding of Rob's niece. No one doubts marriage as a significant life event that shapes who we are. Yesterday we dropped off 11 year old Rebecca at Timberline Ranch for her first overnight camp. I expect that will also be a life-shaper, to a lesser degree, but a life shaper just the same. Who doesn't remember their first overnight camp experience! All about growing up, gaining independence with a week away from parents and familiar routines. And, we also had a most celebratory 80th birthday party for my father-in-law. Inspiring to see how joyously he is living, looking forward to more good "things of this earth"--and the next.