FVC: Consultations Provide Strong Mandate for Proportional Representation #ERRE

back to The Promise: “We will make every vote count” #ERRE

Canadians Deserve Better -Proportional Representation - on Canadian Flag background
This is the twenty-fifth article in the Whoa!Canada: Proportional Representation Series

[Guest Post by Fair Vote Canada]

Fair Vote Waterloo Community Dialogues #1The all-party committee on electoral reform (ERRÉ) has just finished four months of expert and public consultations. They will make their recommendation to Government by December 1st.

Of the ERRÉ witnesses with a position on voting systems, 88% recommended Proportional Representation. This reinforces the findings from decades of research from around the world and of 13 previous electoral reform processes in Canada, including two thorough and impartial citizens assemblies.

When the Government launched the process without a mechanism for collecting empirical data, Fair Vote Canada, a multi-partisan advocacy group, started tracking the process very closely. We are releasing the results of our work to the media because we believe the process needs to be transparent and accountable.

(You can find key a list of results below with links our spreadsheets.)

Fair Vote Waterloo Community Dialogues #@Despite a strong call for proportional representation across all of the consultative platforms, we believe reforming the electoral system could be in serious trouble based on recent comments from Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Monsef.

President Réal Lavergne expressed Fair Vote Canada’s concerns “We are worried that the Minister and the Prime Minister are saying that we cannot count on the government keeping its promise to make every vote count. Yet experts and Canadians have clearly expressed themselves in favour of proportional representation, which is what it really means to “make every vote count.”.

David Merner, Vice-President of Fair Vote Canada , 2015 LPC candidate
David Merner, Vice-President of Fair Vote Canada and former LPC candidate (2015)

David Merner, Vice-President of Fair Vote Canada and a Liberal candidate in last year’s federal election adds “This is not the time for back-tracking. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Democratic Institutions have personally created a sense of hope in Canadians, building on the 2015 Liberal campaign promise of Real Change. Millions of voters believed that the government intended to keep its promises. We believed the political cynicism of the Harper years was behind us, and thousands of us participated in the government’s consultations in good faith.”

Merner says “Now is the time for the government to deliver on its promises.

Fair Vote Waterloo Community Dialogue ERRÉ in CambridgeHighly regarded Conservative strategist and spokesperson for the Every Voter Counts Alliance, Guy Giorno, adds that “committee members must endorse what’s right for Canadians, not what benefits any particular party. Given the weight of the evidence before the committee, the only legitimate option is a recommendation for proportional representation. Let’s also remember that electoral reform was a major issue at the last election, and voters overwhelmingly supported parties promising change.”

The weight of expert testimony in favour of PR was echoed across the country in hundreds of town halls and public dialogues.

ERRE Info Session at Ayr Branch Library

Over the next few days the ERRÉ will negotiate a recommendation for a new electoral system for Canada. The final report is due on December 1.

Fair Vote Canada’s President Réal Lavergne explains that “Once that recommendation has been made, it will be incumbent on the minister to carry it forward and for the government to act on it. Leadership will be required to educate both the public and parliamentarians, and to champion the proposed reform.”

“Based on all the results of the expert and citizen consultations, the committee’s only legitimate option is to recommend in favour of proportional representation.”

Key indicators from ERRÉ hearings

Canadian Electoral System expert Dennis Pilon testified before the ERRE Committee.
Canadian Electoral System expert Dennis Pilon testified before the ERRE Committee.

88% of expert witnesses who expressed a preference called for proportional representation

4% supported the Alternative Vote
(majoritarian ranked ballot systems tend to evolve towards a two-party system, often favour centrist parties and could further entrench the distortions brought about by our existing majoritarian system. )

67% thought a referendum was undesirable or unnecessary.

Detailed analysis can be found here in our Synthesis of witness statements and views.

Open Mic-sessions

From coast to coast, Canadians lined up at the ERRÉ open-mic sessions asking that the committee keep the promise and deliver PR.

According to data released this week by the NDP, out of 428 participants who spoke up, 374 (87.38%) called for proportional representation.

MP town halls

PR in the Back YardTotal number of town halls reporting: 174

The following indicates the level of support observed for proportional representation in MP town halls.

69.5% (121 town halls) – Majority of speakers calling for proportional representation.

8.6%% (15 town halls) – Majority for electoral reform, but no clear majority specifically for proportional representation

Brantford-Brant Community Dialogue

5.2%  (9 town halls) – Support divided between majoritarian system and proportional representation

5.7%   (10 town halls) – Majority for the status quo

8.0% (14 town halls) – Report does not allow any majority view to be identified

2.9%   (5 town halls) – Majority support for the Alternative Vote

Detailed analysis can be found here in our
Synthesis of witness statements and views.

New Hamburg Branch info sessions

Citizen Community Dialogues & EventsWaterloo Region Greens Community Dialogue

Here are basic indicators from the 27 dialogues or town halls hosted by citizens and community groups posted on the ERRÉ site or for which we have directly obtained the information so far:

Total number of participants: 1,058

88% (22 events) – A majority of speakers calling for proportional representation

8% (2 events ) – A majority for change but no majority for any one option

12% (3 events) – Report does not allow any majority view to be identified.

We are aware of at least 15-20 other community dialogues that are not yet posted on the ERRÉ site.

Detailed analysis can be found here.

Minister Monsef’s Townhalls

Minister Monsef organized two types of town hall consultations: ones in her own riding, and others as part of a cross-country tour. Here is an extract from the report submitted to the ERRÉ on town halls held by Minister Monsef in her Riding of Peterborough:

“It is clear that there is an appetite for thoughtful change to the electoral system. While opinions on the various electoral systems did vary, most participants indicated their support for a more proportional electoral process that still respected the need for local representation and simplicity of the ballot.”

Although Minister Monsef routinely conducted straw polls on issues such as mandatory voting and online voting in town halls on the road, she did not do the same regarding support for proportional representation. FVC volunteers attended these events across the country and shared their opinions. Here are a few quotes from participants:

Toronto:
 “PR was clearly the main issue for most. With respect to PR, many attendees spoke passionately and eloquently in favour, and if anyone present opposed it, he or she was not bold enough to express that view.”

Vancouver: “It seemed that 90% of the audience… did want some form of PR.”

Edmonton: “ It seemed most people were in support of some sort of proportional representation.”

Yellowknife: “She asked whether the participants liked FPTP to remain, or Ranked system or STV or MMP or Proportional Representation implemented. One voted for FPTP. Many voted for MMP and a few voted for PR.”

Yukon: “Some Yukoners came in support of our current electoral system (First Past the Post); more were on the side of moving towards proportional representation.”

Halifax: “The feedback from the groups certainly favoured PR.”

Montreal: “There was an overwhelming support for PR in the room.”

Thunder Bay: “Of the dozens who rose to spoke, everyone spoke in favour of PR.”

Gatineau: “ Participants spoke to PR at every opportunity they had… However, the format made this difficult… Taking into consideration those interventions that spoke to the issue of PR vs FPTP or AV, the overwhelming majority of interventions – in the order of 70% or more – were in favour of PR.”

Waterloo: From the report of 4 MPs: “Every group discussed the need for our new electoral system to feature some degree of proportionality.”

Charlottetown: “ About 90% of the people there were pro-PR.”

Winnipeg: After noting that three people were for FPTP because they feared losing local representation. The rest of the comments I heard were mostly just preferences for the different PR systems.”

Happy Valley-Goose Bay: “What we said was that we wanted PR  BUT, it had to be a hybrid type that considered the lack of population and massive land mass of not only Labrador but 60 % of Canada, i.e. the North.”

Calgary: “There was overwhelming support for getting rid of the current system, with different groups mentioning STV or MMP as their top choice.”

The Hon. Maryam Monsef addresses the crowd in Waterloo Region.A concluding note

And, to conclude, this eloquent quote from a Fair Vote Canada volunteer at the Victoria town hall where the Minister said she “can’t promise you that I’ll be advocating for PR because I haven’t heard that from an overwhelming majority across the country.“

Victoria:

“The wheels were skidding out of control as we tried to combat the spin we received at last night’s town hall on Electoral Reform. Maryam Monsef, the Minister of Democratic Institutions hosted the gathering in Victoria billed as “the last chance” to give your input. But the tone of the meeting was quite acrimonious. They were clearly managing the message while backpedaling from an election commitment about changing the electoral system. Not only did she defend Trudeau’s recent comments about no longer needing this reform because we voted for HIM.”

“After months of hearing expert witness by the proportionally cross-partisan panel, and while MPs held public consultations with thousands of Canadians across the country, are we now to believe there is no appetite for Proportional Representation? Monsef said that she has not yet made up her mind but the implication of her words was troubling. Will the government diminish the committee’s well-researched, democratic report in December by championing their predetermined preference? For many of us who attended last night the so-called consultation felt like a sham.”



PS from Laurel:

I’ve chosen to used my own photographs, here, not only because they are free culture photos (licensed to share under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License) but because the number of electoral reform events in and around Waterloo Region has been staggering, and I wanted to share some of them with you, but there were so many local ERRÉ events that I attended (and I didn’t attend them all)  that there isn’t enough room here to use photos from them all!

There was a time not long ago when I knew nothing about electoral reform.  It was only when I was asked to take photos at local Fair Vote Waterloo events that I found myself listening to what the Fair Vote folks had to say, and after a while I even started understanding it.   This was not an easy process, nor was it fast.  It can take a while to really gain an understanding of something completely different from what we’re used to.  

That’s why every electoral reform event must incorporate an education piece.  The thing that I have seen over and over again is that even though Canadians may not know the words for it, or how to fix it, we know something is wrong with our voting system that needs to be fixed.

That is why Mr. Trudeau’s “We will make every vote count” resonated with so many people.  

And what I have learned from every discussion and every ERRÉ event I’ve attended is that when Canadians have a chance to understand the difference between winner-take-all and Proportional Representation, we almost always want some form of PR.    I think that’s because most Canadians value fairness, and the only way to get to a point where the votes of most Canadians actually count will require some form of Proportional Representation.  

Fair Vote Canada suggests Canadians who want to see the implementation of some form of Proportional Representation would do well to let the ERRÉ Committee know about it, and to make it easier for us, they have an automated tool to help us send a letter urging the committee to recommend PR here:

http://fairvotecanada.good.do/thankyou/keepthepromise

back to #The Promise: “We will make every vote count” #ERRE

Proportional Representation Series So Far:

• Proportional Representation for Canada
• What’s so bad about First Past The Post
• Democracy Primer
• Working for Democracy
• The Popular Vote
• Why Don’t We Have PR Already?
• Stability
• Why No Referendum?
• Electoral System Roundup
• When Canadians Learn about PR with CGP Grey
• Entitlement
• Proportional Representation vs. Alternative Vote
• #ERRÉ #Q Committee
• #ERRÉ #Q Meetings & Transcripts
• Take The Poll ~ #ERRÉ #Q
Proportionality #ERRÉ #Q 
• The Poll’s The Thing 
• DIY Electoral Reform Info Sessions
• What WE Can Do for ERRÉ
• #ERRÉ today and Gone Tomorrow (…er, Friday)
• Redistricting Roulette 
• #ERRÉ submission Deadline TONIGHT!
#ERRÉ Submission by Laurel L. Russwurm
• The Promise: “We will make every vote count” #ERRÉ
FVC: Consultations Provide Strong Mandate for Proportional Representation #ERRÉ
PEI picks Proportional Representation
There is only one way to make every vote count #ERRÉ
Canada is Ready 4 Proportional Representation
Sign the Petition e-616
#ProportionalRepresentation Spin Cycle ~ #ERRÉ
• International Women’s Day 2017 ~ #IWD
• An Open Letter to ERRÉ Committee Liberals

and don’t forget to check out the PR4Canada Resources page!

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Congratulations @BardishKW

Since getting swept up in the electoral reform movement, I’ve had the opportunity to meet people from all the politcal parties in Waterloo Region.  In the days before the wider community hadn’t even heard about electoral reform, many of the people attending the Fair Vote Waterloo events where I was taking photographs were very involved in politics, some with political aspirations. That was when I first noticed a bright young woman named Bardish Chagger.  Although her face started become familiar because I kept seeing her at events like the Waterloo Robocalls Town Hall, it was only when she hosted a Liberal electoral reform debate that I learned she was a highly placed member of the local Liberal Riding Association.  As I got to know her a little, I discovered her mentor was Andrew Telegdi, an MP whose name I knew from a principled stand he took even before I moved back home.

When Bardish received the Waterloo Liberal nomination, I was happy for her.  Although I supported a different party during the 2015 election, and was very disappointed our exceptional candidate (and my friend) Richard Walsh wasn’t able to win the seat he and Bardish were contesting, I was pleased she had unseated the incumbent, and I was happy for her again.  My husband predicted she might get a cabinet position in spite of her youth, and when it happened, I was happy for her again, but now it felt kind of weird to actually know a cabinet minister.  But Bardish has brilliant people skills, and in spite of her elevation, she continued to be the approachable person she had always been, and when I meet her at events she always puts me at ease.

And now today I am happy for her elevation to the position of Government House Leader.  People say it is unprecedented for a “rookie” like Bardish to end up in such a job, but I’ve not doubt Bardish has the skills necessary to do the job.  Which is why I am offering the Honorable Bardish Chagger my most sincere congratulations.

Bardish Chagger at the Waterloo Climate Change Consultation
Bardish Chagger at the Waterloo Climate Change Consultation

 

National Day of Action to Stop Bill C-51 ~ March 14th, 2015

It's Time To STOP BILL C-51

There have been many complaints against legislation the Harper Government has pushed through since gaining it’s “majority*” in the House of Commons. Our antiquated inequitable electoral system allows any government that achieves a “majority” to do pretty much whatever it likes.

But Bill C-51 is a game changer.

Law Professors Craig Forcese and Kent Roach (at the University of Ottawa and the University of Toronto respectively) have been raising the alarm in articles like“Bill C-51: the Good, the Bad . . . and the Truly Ugly” which outline many of the very disturbing elements of Bill C-51.  They’ve created a website where they have shared their findings about Bill C-51 in detail http://www.antiterrorlaw.ca/

Possibly the single most disturbing element for me is something Mr. Forcese says in one of his information videos:

…the whole thing is covert.

We just have never seen anything like this in Canada before. Personally I would expect judges to consider all this unconstitutional and they could never let CSIS breach the constitution. But you and I may never know because, as I’ve said, this legal question would likely be decided as part of secret proceedings.

— Craig Forcese, University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law

Fast Tracked

Although Bill C-51 makes sweeping changes to Canadian law (and life) the Harper Government is pushing this bill through at break neck speed.  Instead of thoroughly investigating every element carefully, only 9 witnesses will be allowed to speak at the hearings, which are scheduled to be wrapped up by March 31, 2015.

The thing is, a majority government can pass any law it wants to pass.  So why not give such a law a proper hearing, why not examine it to ensure there will be no unexpected consequences.  After all, shouldn’t every law within a democratic nation receive proper scrutiny?

On Saturday (that’s March 14, 2015) Canadians across the country will to join a scheduled National Day of Action to protest Bill C-51.

Many organisations and a whole lot of people from Privacy Commissioners to former Prime Ministers have spoken out against Bill C-51 because they believe its provisions should be of concern to all Canadians.  If Bill C-51 becomes law, it will clearly allow for the violation of our Charter Rights, destroy personal privacy and facilitate spying on innocent Canadians while it creates a new secret police force with little oversight or accountability.

Canadians need to tell our MPs how we feel about this.

You can write a letter and/or sign Leadnow’s Petition:

REJECT FEAR. STOP STEPHEN HARPER’S “SECRET POLICE” BILL
Tell them that attacks on civil liberties including the sweeping expansion of spy powers, criminalization of speech, and preventative arrest for those who have committed no crime are not acceptable.

Find out where a local Stop Bill C-51 rally may be taking place on Facebook or Twitter, or visit LeadNow’s http://we.leadnow.ca/stopc51 webpage where they are trying to co-ordinate the whole thing. If there isn’t one scheduled in your neighbourhood, you can start your own, by setting up a Facebook Event and inviting your friends or by announcing it on Twitter.

In my own Waterloo Region we have three groups (so far) coming together to stand up for Canadian civil rights.

Waterloo Region National Day of Action Bill C-51 Events

11:00AM Waterloo Walk against Bill C-51

I love the idea of a protest march where the marchers pass out information.  The march will begin at the University of Waterloo, in the Davis Centre Quad

(the big ‘green’ space between Davis Centre, Mathematics/Computer and Chemisty buildings). Then we’ll walk down University Avenue, past Laurier, down King Street until Victoria Park and City Hall. There will already be a rally in progress at city hall, so if you want to stay at the rally you can meet up there and talk to some cool people. Otherwise, you can bus back or something.

NOON Kitchener-Waterloo Day of Action Against Bill C-51STOP

has merged with Julian Ichim’s Info Picket against Bill C 51 to create a single event at Kitchener City Hall.

Folks are welcome to meet up at Kitchener City Hall on March 14th at 12pm, 200 King St W. Federal Green party candidate Richard Walsh will be giving a short speech.

I have been told this is not a partisan event; Richard Walsh won’t be the only Federal Candidate for the 2015 Election slated to speak. I would certainly like to hear from candidates from all major Parties in Waterloo Region and sitting MPs on this very important subject.a

The weather is supposed to be lousy, but if they pass Bill C-51 this may be the last time anyone can attend a protest rally without risking 5 years in jail.

Stop Bill C-51


*”Majority” government in Canada does not mean a majority (which would be 50+%) it is a “plurality” — the winner only needs to get more votes than any other, not a majority of votes. Which means that a government that wins a majority of the seats in Parliament with only 39% of the vote (like Mr. Harper has) actually gains 100% of the power, which is effectively a dictatorship, not democracy.

Vote For Cathy: Waterloo #LPC Nomination

Cathy MacLellan
2015 Waterloo Liberal Candidate Nominee Cathy MacLellan

As I’ve become more politically involved, since beginning this blog in response to the Harper Government’s Premature Prorogation, I have come to know Cathy MacLellan, one of the LPC Candidate Nominees for Waterloo.

Like most of the Waterloo Region politicians I’ve come in contact with, I first noticed Cathy in photographs I took at various political events put on by my Fair Vote WRC friends.

At first all I saw was her smile, as she participated as an attendee in workshops and panel discussions raising public awareness about Canadian Politics and Democracy.  But over the years, I’ve had opportunities to speak with Cathy, and I’ve learned she is a very intelligent and committed woman from a successful entrepreneurial background.  I was particularly impressed with the breadth of Cathy’s knowledge as well as her skill when she moderated a highly informative CETA Panel Discussion between local MP Stephen Woodworth and Angelo DiCaro.

I’ve heard her speak passionately about the path our current government has led us down, and the more I’ve come to know her, the more convinced I am that Cathy MacLellan  is exactly the kind of representative we desperately need in Parliament.  Because Cathy is committed to making Canada a better place, not just for ourselves, but for our kids.

Better yet, Cathy MacLellan is both ready and willing to fight for our future. And I very much expect Cathy will win, because I can’t imagine anyone else will match her commitment.

The Nominees will speak to the LPC members at 4:00pm, and voting will follow until 7:00pm when the votes will be tallied to determine the LPC Candidate for the Waterloo Electoral District for the upcoming 2015 Federal Election.

LPC Waterloo NOMINATION MEETING
Sunday, February 22, 2015
4:00pm
Waterloo Inn
475 King Street North
Waterloo, ON N2J 2Z5

If you are a member of the Liberal Party, you should head out to this afternoon’s Candidate Nomination Meeting so you can Vote for Cathy.

 

Democracy Week 2013 Continues

25,000 signatures!

Fair Vote Canada Executive Director Anita Nickerson addresses the crowd in Waterloo Public Square on Monday
Fair Vote Canada Executive Director Anita Nickerson addresses the crowd in Waterloo Public Square on Monday

On September 16th 2013, Fair Vote Canada‘s “Declaration of Voter’s Rights” reached 25,000 signatures!

Fair Vote Canada will be holding a press conference and campaign launch event on Parliament Hill on Thursday, where Executive Director Anita Nickerson will proudly display a giant copy of the Declaration this Thursday ~ September 19th, 2013 ~ on Parliament Hill. Standing alongside FVC will be NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, Stephane Dion (former Liberal Leader), Georges Laraque, Joyce Murray, Paul Dewar, Leadnow, Greenpeace and more! They hope to reach 100,000 signatures by 2015!

Watch the video at Craig Scott on the Principle of Electoral Reform

(editor’s note: I originally had the video embedded, but it was doing weird things so I removed it after the fact,)

My parents were born and raised in Canada, yet they couldn't vote till after WWII because they were of Japanese extraction, so I value the right to vote. I have voted in every federal election since I reached adulthood and have never voted for the party that formed the government. We desperately need Proportional Representation so that a diversity of values and perspectives may be elected." ~David Suzuki
“We desperately need Proportional Representation so that a diversity of values and perspectives may be elected.” ~ David Suzuki

Kitchener-Waterloo By-Election Candidates

Currently two Ontario electoral ridings are in the grip of By-Elections. In the riding of Vaughan everyone seems to assume the Liberal candidate will be a shoe-in. Although predictions are made in every election, we wouldn’t need to bother with the expense of elections if any poll or prediction’s outcome was guaranteed.

No such assumption has been made in Elizabeth Witmer’s Kitchener-Waterloo riding, where Witmer has reigned under Progressive-Conservative colours for decades. The only reason her staunch conservative seat is up for grabs is because she’s resigned to accept a plum job offered by Premier McGuinty. Nice to see such consensus in government, eh?

Because the Liberal Party of Ontario is one seat short of a majority, this is quite an important election for the Liberals, who have discovered it was much easier to govern when they had a majority.

Governments can do whatever they want when they hold a majority of seats. Which is why it is important to the rest of us as well. After all, minority government is the closest we get to democracy in these parts.

My favorite, multipartisan, grass roots, electoral reform group, Fair Vote Canada, is hoping to change all that. Fair Vote WRC hosts events and seminars throughout the year so citizens can learn and discuss the issue of how to re-inject democracy into our political system.

Politics On The Patio Goes Underground

Last year during Democracy Week they held a “Politics on The Patio” event which happened to occur in the midst of the Ontario election. It was a relaxing change from the tightly managed election events, instead providing a forums so candidates could mix informally with the public and actually get an opportunity to meet one another.


Since this By-Election will be over by Democracy week, Fair Vote Waterloo Region held a “Meet The Candidate” event in the Huether Hotel’s basement Malt Room Museum. Almost all the candidates managed to attend, so it was an excellent opportunity to meet candidates in a relaxed setting — in this case, the Lion Brewery Museum and Dining Lounge, located in the depths of Waterloo’s Huether Hotel.

There was an excellent turn out of candidates.  Here they are in alphabetical order (by first name):

Allan Dettweiler, Ontario Libertarian Party
Catherine Fife, NDP
Elizabeth Rowley, Communist Party of Canada (Ontario)
Eric Davis, Liberal Party
Garnet Bruce, Independent
Stacey Danckert, Green Party

In these days of copyright maximalism, it is important to have accessible photographs of people in public life available to citizen journalists and bloggers. I’ve been taking every opportunity to photograph local politicians; all these blog photos are by laurelrusswurm and licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Although Conservative Candidate Tracy Weiller did not attend the Fair Vote “meet the Candidate” event, I can share this photograph of the candidate for tomorrow’s election.

Tracy Weiler, PC Party of Ontario

The byelections are being held tomorrow, Thursday September 6th, 2012.   I can’t vote in either riding, but I can hope the Ontarians who can don’t lock Ontario into an unfortunate majority.  Fingers crossed!

Either way, get out there and vote!

Oh yeah, this *is* Canada, after all … if any stranger ~ human or robot ~ should happen to call you up to tell you you need to go somehere different to cast your vote, please check it with the official information available at Elections Ontario.

Waterloo Region Walk-In Clinics (Ontario)

Today a friend asked me if I knew of more walk-in clinics in Waterloo Region.

I have the dubious distinction of being an expert on this issue, having spent far too many years without a family doctor in this land of supposed universal health care. When you don’t have an MD, there are only two options: Walk-In Clinics, or Emergency Rooms.

It isn’t an issue if you’re healthy; and so, by and large, most people don’t really understand, because it doesn’t directly affect them. But it is a terrible thing when you’re ill; but it is far far worse when your child is sick.

This issue is destined to become much worse, very soon. Even if you have a family doctor, ask yourself when your MD will be retiring. Presently the largest demographic of MDs is the same as it is in every other part of society: most of Ontario’s doctors are baby boomers.

waiting list blues

When I moved here the waiting list I wanted to sign with was a year.  They had 2.5 doctors, with the “half” doctor practising half the time here, and half in another municipality.  But he was getting tired of commuting, and so gave both clinics the option of employing him full time.  Our clinic lost.  And after 10 years on the waiting list, they called to ask if I wanted to remain on it.

When I first moved to Waterloo Region more than a decade ago, it wasn’t that big a deal. We could go to the walk-in clinic near Fairview Mall.  They had a really cool set up of plexiglass display cases where model trains would chug along the tracks between the waiting room and though the examination rooms.  Back then, they were open 7 days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.  These days the hours have been cut back.  If you arrive after 1:00pm on a weekend, chances are they will have closed the day’s intake.  Not because they want to, but because they don’t have enough doctors.   Oh, and sad to say, I haven’t seen the trains run in years, either.

In Canada,  Health Care is a provincial responsibility, but the money comes from the federal government.  Federal funding was cut dramatically several governments ago, and although the funding has since increased,  I suspect levels are still well below where they were.

Flying against a blue sky with a few wisps of coud.

doctor shortage: bad to worse

Doctors all over are retiring much faster than they can be replaced.  It used to be hospitals had waiting lists for family doctors. Not any more.   You can search the Ontario College of Physicians Website, but if you find an MD anywhere close, chances are they have stopped accepting patients by the time you call.

Over the years I’ve watched  our once great health system get starved into the shell we have today.  The example of Canada’s health care success has long been a thorn in the side of the private insurance lobby in the United States… and look what damage that caused.  Now the American Government has had to step in and implement their own public system.   The big insurance companies don’t like government meddling,  because they only get a fraction of the profit they do with private health care.  Canada’s health care system – covering every citizen – costs less per capita than the American system that only covered a small fraction of their population.

Canadians only got universal health care due to minority government horse trading.  My theory is that the ruling parties (and their corporate backers) don’t actually want universal health care, but they know citizens do,  so they don’t dare dismantle it.  Instead of attacking it head on, they have let it waste away.

Some years ago Ontario capped the amount of money any single doctor could make from OHIP in a year.  From a budgetary standpoint, that limits the amount of money the province has to pay to doctors.   Doctors near the US border have been known to go south after they hit their Ontario cap.  In under serviced areas, some doctors have even been known to tend patients without OHIP remuneration.   Other doctors have taken to charging patients for things not covered by OHIP.   And many stay on past the time when they would have retired because there is no one to take over their patient load.

We have a serious doctor shortage right now, but only a trickle of new doctors coming in.  I think this is because the government prefers it this way.  If there were enough doctors, the total amount of money the Provincial Government would be paying out would increase dramatically.

In the meantime, if you don’t have a family doctor, chances are good you don’t see a doctor until you’re good and sick, and probably have been for a long time. Sitting for hours in ER or a clinic is a last resort. Of course, this means there’s less chance of catching things early. And prevention? Forget it. Which means that many of us are less productive, and when we do go in, the procedures often cost much more.

Since so many of us are without an MD, we have no choice but to go to a walk-in clinic. Finding a walk-in clinic in the very under serviced Waterloo Region can be a challenge. And when you need one, you need one NOW.

Yet the yellow pages aren’t a big help, nor is the government website Walk-In Clinics – The Ministry of Health Can Help You: Find The Closest Walk In Clinic that popped up at the top of the Google Search.

The most comprehensive list of walk-in clinics is from the Region of Waterloo Public Health department:

Walk-in Clinics

Cambridge
Cambridge Walk-in Clinic
980 Franklin Blvd.
519-654-2260

Waterloo
The Doctor’s Office
170 University Ave West
519-725-1514

Kitchener
Weber Street Medical Centre
5A-1400 Weber Street East
519-748-6933

Kitchener
Laurentian Walk-in Clinic
750 Ottawa Street South
519-570-3174

Kitchener
Canadian Medical Clinic
100 The Boardwalk
519-279-4098

Kitchener
Urgent Care Clinic
385 Fairway Road S.
519-748-2327

Kitchener
Urgent Care Clinic
751 Victoria Street S.
519-745-2273

This is the list today, 13 March, 2012.  For the most current version check the Public Health Department’s page.

[note: edited for clarity.]