Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Of hallways and highways ...

Picture: Winnipeg ER as seen by Tom Brodbeck.
In these dog days of summer, the really hot political stories are generally few and far between. Besides, when you're at the beach or cottage, who can get excited about much of anything besides 'what's the SPF number?' and 'who's doing the beer run, anyway?'

But a couple of items we thought warranted some comment.

So, here's Bunk-beck back from vacation in time to see a response from the WRHA about his FIPPA (read: taxpayer-funded story-o-matic device) application. What's the outcome? 'Waiting times higher than under the Tories'

But ah, wait a sec. The numbers Brodbeck used are one of two sets collected by the WRHA. (Why do they collect two sets? Who knows?) One set, which the premier refers to, are the base number for people who are actually admitted to a space in the hallways, who are no longer emergent and waiting for a real bed somewhere in the system. This is the number recommended by health officials that the government use. (The same methodology used by the Filmon government, by the way.)

The other set, that Tom likes, are a count of all people who happen to be in a hallway for any reason at all, including people there for a short time for a test result, getting a cast, or whatever, who then are able to go home.

People in hallways at all is not an ideal situation. But the main point that lost when you have a "gotcha, Gary Doer, hallway medicine is not dead seven years later," is that the problem is significantly better than under the former Filmon government. That's a fact. Not completely eliminated, but way better.

But it's much more fun to cobble together something via FIPPA that can allow Tom to compare apples to oranges (the WRHA all-inclusive number of today to the Tory number pre-1999) in order to justify a nasty headline ... hmm, let's see, maybe "Doer fudges numbers", or something like that.

Hey, look ma! Instant drive-by smear. No hands! (We won't go on today about the Freep playing 'me too' after Huey did a newser recaping Tom's story.)

And what's the guaranteed follow up? Tom writes a column staying that Medicare is dying and should be buried now while we still can. Hello, U.S. HMOs! That's the ticket, yes?

Just for fun, wouldn't it be great to see if Tom and his friends at the Sun will try to hold Mr. Harper to such account for not meeting his campaign promises to the exact letter? Hmm, don't hold your breath.

And of course it's not an ideological thing. No sir.


So the provincial surplus is bigger, the rainy day fund is thus bigger and a $100 million chunk will go to highways (oops, infrastructure). And Huey thinks that's bad. (And the Freep thinks it vindicates their poll.)

We could continue to tee off, but Hack did a pretty good job on this (not nearly as nasty and partisan as we may have been, of course, but a good point all the same).

We promise come September this space will be fully back up to speed. And we may even approach such topics as smoking in native casinos. But we'll see.

Meantime, pass the suntan lotion and a beer.