Conservatives pounding another nail in veterans’ health care

This morning I awoke to read an alarming Letter to the Editor in the Toronto Star by a Kingston psychiatrist, Dr. Janet McCulloch. Now doctors have to seek permission from Veterans Affairs just to treat a vet. No one else in our national or provincial health system is subjected to this suppression of access to immediate health care. This ruling was introduced in June 2009. How many vets knows this? Frankly I am sick about this tyrannical governance of Harper and his cronies. Every days it feels as if Canada is reliving the German history of 1933. We joke about Harper’s ‘thought police,’ but I’m wondering if the joke is on us if Harper wins his coveted majority government. I am reposting Dr. McCulloch’s letter in full because what she is explaining focuses on the Conservatives’ callous attitude towards our vets and why we have to do everything we can to prevent Harpers’ Conservatives from winning in this current election campaign. BONNIE

Conservatives putting veterans’ lives at risk

by  Janet McCulloch, Psychiatric MD, Kingston

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Medical care for veterans is the responsibility of the federal government. In June 2009, the Harper government introduced new guidelines that make it virtually impossible for veterans to get the health care they need.

Veterans can no longer automatically receive medical care as they have since before World War I. Instead, a physician needs to submit a request to Veterans Affairs for permission to assess the patient and another request to be allowed to treat them. This process can take weeks and often months. No other Canadian citizens are subject to restrictions like this when it comes to accessing standard medical care. This delay and uncertainty can put veterans’ health and even lives at risk.

This is especially true for my patients, many of whom suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and substance abuse. When discharged from the military because of PTSD, soldiers are likely to be depressed, unstable and even suicidal. These veterans must be treated immediately to keep their symptoms from getting worse. Having to wait for approval from Veterans Affairs can mean the difference between life and death for some veterans.

These problems do not stop once a veteran is approved to receive care. Instead, Veterans Affairs only approves a specified number of appointments (“occurrences”) at a time. Once this number is used up, a physician must submit a new request and once again wait to receive permission before resuming treatment. This new policy endangers the veterans who are most ill by interrupting their care.

According to the Canadian Medical Protective Association, it is unethical and potentially dangerous to delay treatment while waiting for new approval. The government has set up an unworkable bureaucratic nightmare for both the physician and the injured soldier. Decisions regarding appropriate treatment are taken away from the doctor-patient relationship and put in the hands of a distant bureaucracy. Physicians will be unable or unwilling to take on new patients under these conditions.

Veterans deserve to receive the health care that they need when they need it. Because many suffer from severe and even life-threatening conditions, they often need prompt access to care. These veterans served Canada and now it is time that their government serves them. That means electing a government that will restore automatic access to health care for our veterans.


About Bonnie Toews and John Christiansen

Bonnie's Blog Posts invite our readers and free spirits everywhere to share life's adventures with us. I talk about writing my novels, reading books, chatting with other writers and John's and my journeys around the world. We welcome your anecdotes to our experiences and discussions.
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7 Responses to Conservatives pounding another nail in veterans’ health care

  1. Robert Simpson says:

    I personally know of Veterans trying to get help at the London OSI Clinic. The clinic wants to help… but VAC is holding up the allowing of their treatment. If you are a Vetertan then it should be automatic. Come on these people need help now, not when you feel like giving them it. Too many suffer needlessly because of some pencil pusher. Time to cut all red tape and make it truely open to all Veterans.

  2. Bonnie Toews says:

    I agree wholeheartedly. If we get a change of government, I want to see vetarans’ issues addressed in the first 100 days.

  3. Marlene Gingras says:

    Frankly I am not sure that a change of Governement will change anything. The responsible are the Canadian Forces !!!! Conservatives are not the only party that governed our Country in all the pasts years and our Veterans have been suffering for a long time!!!!

  4. Bonnie Toews says:

    True, Marlene, but the (mis)administration by Veterans Affairs of the New Veterans Charter with the introduction of actuarial treatment of veterans’ pensions and the above ruling in June 2009 are definitely under the Harper Government’s watch. While appearing to support the armed forces (Hillier’s public personna forced the Harper government to improve equipment especially after it changed to the full hi-risk combat mission in Afghanistan from Kabul to Kandahar) behind the scenes the government did not spend a larger budget on this as the people thought but in fact recovered extra costs by witholding funds to vets in disability pensions through the actuarual or insurance application to claims. A very cynical approach that our veterans don’t and haven’t deserved by any stretch of the imagination.

  5. Gary Goode says:

    This approach to medical care for Canada’s Veterans is the beginning of the end for Canadian Medicare. If Stephan Harper is reelected and god forbid given a majority, he will dismantle Canada’s medical system to the point that it resembles the U.S. insurance based system and only those who can afford to pay the premiums will receive the health care they need. Stephan Harper does not care about your health. Stevo the slezo only cares about the tax dollers he can collect from an insurance bassed medical system.

  6. Bonnie Toews says:

    This is my concern as well, Gary. In the final analysis, Obama actually made the U.S. healthcare system worse. In no way does it resemble the national healthcare system Canadians have enjoyed up until now, but ours is in jeapordy.

  7. Pingback: Stress Leads to Alcohol Abuse and in Turn Depression Makes You Feel Worse | Depression, Anxiety, and Addiction

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