Archive for January, 2012

One has to question why

Friday, January 27th, 2012

At least once a week, and sometimes more often, I hear this statement, “The doctors aren’t sure what’s happening but I need an MRI. They tell me it will be 20 weeks before I can get one.”
Understandably, emergency MRIs are happening faster than that but diagnostic MRIs in what is deemed a non-emergency are indeed taking months to happen.
And this story isn’t new. Years ago, a friend needed an MRI and was told it would be 17 weeks. He went to Calgary and for $1,000 he got an MRI in three days. Once he had the MRI report in his hand, it was matter of days and he got his treatment. The bottleneck wasn’t the treatment, it wasn’t the surgeon, it wasn’t the operating room. It was the lack of an MRI.
An MRI, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, isn’t all that complicated any more. Certainly the report isn’t complicated. The reports are printed out on a normal printer/copier and come in a standard copy paper format.
Whenever there is a discussion about health care in Manitoba, there’s a lot of talk about complying with the Canada Health Act. We are told that to comply with the act, things have to be done a certain way. For Manitoba to get federal funding, we have to comply with the act. Sound right doesn’t it. No, it’s actually quite wrong. All provinces and territories are under the Canada Health Act. Manitoba and Alberta are both under the Canada Health Act. So if one can’t buy an MRI privately in Manitoba, why can anyone, including a resident of Manitoba buy an MRI in Alberta? No government bureaucrat or politician seems to be able to answer that question.
A recent call to a small town in Minnesota revealed some interesting points. I talked to the administrator of a health clinic in northern Minnesota and asked if they did MRIs. Yes, they did. I asked how long it takes and he apologetically answered that as it was November and the “snowbirds” were getting their health records in order before departing for Texas or Florida, that there was a waiting period of about five days. Normally it would be three days. However, the administrator explained that they do about 15 MRIs a day and about eight are appointments and seven are for emergencies. The net effect was that you wait three days for an appointment and you don’t wait for an emergency. He also went on to explain that there were three or four other clinics with MRI capability within an hour’s drive of their particular location.
The bad news is that it was costly, but there certainly must be some kind of compromise available. Somewhere between waiting up to six months in Manitoba and not having to wait at all, a few hours drive away in Minnesota or 10 hours drive away in Alberta, there must be a method and a cost that could be reachable. There isn’t in Manitoba. Worse yet, no one is willing to challenge the government monopoly for an MRI clinic.
Given the political landscape in Manitoba, it doesn’t seem that anyone is about to challenge this ridiculous situation. Manitobans should be able to purchase an MRI if they want to have one. Not sure what it will take to change that but it does need to be addressed.

Pulling together

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

One sign of living in a small community is how people pull together when faced with difficulty. When a home burns, when a person needs help to meet extra medical expenses, when a disaster of any kind hits, the community tends to pull together.
Neepawa hasn’t exactly had a disaster but more precisely some unfortunate circumstances recently. Long famous, and still well known, as Manitoba’s most beautiful town, the news out of Neepawa hasn’t all been good lately. Having gained national news for the hazing incident a few months back, Neepawa has also had some other media noted setbacks over the past few months.
In response to the hockey hazing incident, several people in Neepawa dug deep financially, and dug even deeper as volunteers, to work through the consequences of the incident. Reviewing the details of the hazing will serve no purpose here. The incident happened within the Neepawa Natives Junior A hockey team and will be reviewed yet again in agonizing detail when the MJHL final report comes out.
That said, people in the community realized that this is “Our Team, Our Community” and when fixing is needed, the community can rise to the occasion and try to fix things.
The Neepawa Natives team decided to have a “free game” last Friday night. A local businessman gathered together a bunch of support and workers and came up with the idea of having a week long anti-hazing event. The profits would go to an MJHL anti-hazing, anti-bullying fund. Money was raised, team members worked with groups in the community, draw tickets were sold and awareness raised. The message was simple. Hazing is bad, it will likely happen again, some day, somewhere, but as a community, Neepawa is going to do its best to see that inappropriate actions are reduced or eliminated in youth sport or anywhere else for that matter. The crown jewel of the week’s event was the “free game”. The team dug deep and did their part by winning 4-3. The community did their part by coming in the hundreds, an estimated crowd of 1,000 attended. The 50:50 draw was bigger than the gate receipts from an ordinary game. The Yellowhead Centre organization helped out. The Filtoba Filipino group volunteered. The lobby was full, the concession overworked, the stands filled up nicely. Oh yes, did I mention, the team won? And to celebrate the week and the win, fans gathered in the Yellowhead Hall for free hotdogs and coffee and viewed decades of hockey memorabilia.
Going forward, this community and others will continue to respond to bad situations. Hopefully, the hazing situation won’t make a return appearance. Nobody is looking forward to a return match of that particular kind of event. It would be nice to say hazing and bullying are dead.
It remains to be seen how much money will go to the MJHL anti-hazing fund. It is a fund that should grow as other teams and other communities mount an effort to build those coffers. Hazing is a rite of passage we could well do without. Sure, it has happened before and it will likely happen again. But perhaps there’s a better rite of passage that could be adopted. With the kind of leadership that was displayed these past few weeks in Neepawa, perhaps volunteering and working with kids and helping out in the community will become the new rite of passage. It’s one we can be proud of. Then Neepawa can truly be Manitoba’s most beautiful town with flowers, gardens, trees and peace of mind.
The trees are still here, the flowers and gardens will bloom again come spring and with the good work done last week, the peace of mind may grow and thrive too. It will need some tending, just like the flower beds, but with community effort, it can grow as well.

Perhaps a famine would be good

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Ag Days is coming up next weekend in Brandon. 
Perhaps it’s the unseasonably warm weather, perhaps it’s the usual optimism of a new year, not sure, but there is a lot of optimism out there about farming.
There should always be optimism about farming but that’s certainly not always been the case. Having experienced my parents’ despair with the drought year of 1961 and having watched them at various times struggle to make the mortgage payment, I was raised in a cycle of determination, optimism and outright despair.
In later years, in our own farming experiences, we experienced drought nearly as bad as 1961, years of good crops and some years of flooded out disasters. There’s always been the cycle.
Now, to observe the cycle, all I have to do is start selling ads. We have doubled the number of ads for our Ag Days edition this year. More dealers and ag industry people want to get the word out that they have the solution to farm challenges. It’s been a good run this past few days as several new advertisers have joined our more regular ones to get the word out to the public in our readership area. Now if an event like Ag Days is on in Brandon, it makes sense to advertise in the Neepawa Banner and Rivers Banner. South-western Manitoba is divided into roughly four quarters. The quarter served by the Neepawa Banner and Rivers Banner has the largest population, the best land base and the most mixed farming base and has the highest incomes. When it comes to the ag industry, the Neepawa-Minnedosa, Carberry-Rivers area leads the way.
As stated above, there should be optimism in agriculture and it should be there all the time. After air and water, food is the next most needed commodity in our lives. Can’t go too many days without it. Some of us have trouble going more than a few hours. 
I am maintaining a long habit of reading Canadian history books. I particularly like books about western Canada and the political decisions that have been made. Quite frankly, agriculture has never had the respect it deserves, both in the farming communities and in the cities. It’s not likely to happen, but if Canada had a famine, perhaps we would look at what’s on our dinner plate with a bit more awe and respect. Put another way, “Don’t complain about the farmers when your mouth is full.”
And speaking of history, it would seem that in the 140 plus years we have officially been a country, that agriculture gets better treatment from conservative leaning governments rather than liberal leaning governments. There should be no difference as it doesn’t matter what your politics are, you have to eat and hopefully eat well. Food is not an option and so food production and all that is attached to that production should be treated more sensitively and seriously than other industries.
It seems odd that governments can pour money, by the hundreds of millions of dollars, into big city stadiums, human rights museums and arenas but can’t get the roads and bridges fixed that allow our food to be hauled to the cities. 
Perhaps our senior governments could use a reality check. Or maybe a short famine. This is a Sunrize Group internet solution (204)226-2247