The Globe and Mail’s health reporter, Andre Picard, has been in Halifax this week attending a conference. Picard is the author of a new book, Matters of Life and Death, Public Health Issues in Canada.
One a radio phone-in he was asked what we, the public, can do to improve health care. Picard’s suggestion was to complain more. He said Canadians have been too complacent and too accepting of the status quo.
Not surprisingly, I agree.
I know it goes against the grain to criticize and complain, but being polite and respectful hasn’t worked.
I am old enough to remember when AIDS was first identified. Initially there was a lot of ignorance and prejudice around the illness. As generations were decimated by AIDS, activists, like Larry Kramer, stopped being polite. Polite hadn’t worked. They adopted an in-your-face position. At first I was uncomfortable with what I thought was unnecessary rudeness.
As I faced our health care system and learned of the shared experiences of others, I understood the frustration, anger and disappointment of those early AIDS activists. Their campaign was simple: Silence = Death.
We have grown up with the concept that the squeaky wheel gets the oil, so why are we afraid to complain about the lack of progress in solving problems in health care? We shouldn’t pretend things are great when for many they obviously aren’t.
The election is over. That doesn’t mean that citizens should put their concerns on hold for four years. Feet to fire is the only way to get change. It’s our duty to ourselves, those we love and the system.