Reader disappointed with recent editorial

To the editor,

In an era where the quality and quantity of print news sources are broadly in rapid decline, it has been like a breath of fresh air to witness your publication, the Independent Plus, go against the trend and increasingly provide a wide range of quality material. Your work at making it a more reliable news and information source deserves commendation, having built an element of trust for many.

Therefore, it was with deep disappointment that I read – and reread – the editorial “Nurses needed to fix healthcare’s ills” (Dec. 16, 2021), a piece that clearly fell far short of the journalistic standards your paper has established for itself. While the piece did indeed cover some historical causes of the problem of a shortage of nurses, it missed the crux of the issue it purported to address.

The editorial’s glaring failure was in addressing the main and most recent cause of the nurse and other health care workers crisis – the unlawful firing of thousands of workers who believed that they should have a choice in what they do with their bodies. This matter of the arbitrary removal of choice should cause deep alarm for every Canadian who believes that their body has some intrinsic value.

In a society where following the scientific method, supported by foundational ethics, has given us benefits beyond any that past generations could have imagined, how can the government and an insulated bureaucracy take such a devastating action which has absolutely no basis in science? Their totally subjective actions are nothing short of diabolically punitive, signaling a sharp departure from our long record of objectivity in decision-making.

Let me provide a first-hand illustration of the impact of these terrible decisions which resulted in the firing of nurses, paramedics, firefighters – the frontline workers who unselfishly give of themselves day after day, often unnoticed:

As a result of a recent motor vehicle accident, I was a patient which made stops at several hospitals in midwestern Ontario. These stays gave me a deeply troubling view of the toll being taken on the remaining nursing staff. They gave a consistent story illustrating the unsustainable toll which is eroding them as a direct result of wrong-headed government and bureaucratic ideology. Whether they used words or actions, the toll they felt as a result of their severe overload was universal.

One spoke of going home at the end of the shift and being stabbed with panic attacks, wondering if she had done some task that kept getting pushed back to some hoped-for opening in her schedule. Another, having finished her pressing bedside and charting duties, said “There, now I’m going for lunch.” An hour later she had still not gotten away to take care of her own very real and necessary physical, personal need. It was heartbreaking to observe, and her excellent care of me and my roommate induced a real sense of guilt on my part, even though we were not the cause of her importunity. Some were called back to work on their days off, missing out on the very necessary rest they needed to keep them able to continue their work.

And others of their colleagues simply quit, the relentless stress of their responsibility leading to numerous breakdowns. These are but a snippet of the many situations I heard and observed. And as a result, the crisis snowballs and escalates.

How should this ugly reality make the Ford government and the apparently heartless creatures at the Science Table or top medical officers feel? How should these needless threats to our well-being make the people of the province feel about the apartheid that is shredding the fabric of our entire society?

Relating a personal negative experience, I was to have a follow-up appointment with the surgeon who performed reconstructive surgery on my shattered leg. We heard no more of it until upon eventually calling the clinic to see when it was scheduled. “You didn’t show up for your appointment,” we were told. What appointment? We knew nothing of any such thing. It turned out the surgeon’s office booked the appointment and sent it to the floor where I had stayed. And that’s where the trail ended. Someone failed to forward that information with my discharge papers.

This failure, I believe, can be traced directly back to the Ford government’s bad directives, as received from wildly incompetent medical overlords who are calling some very badly misguided shots.

And now, in an attempt to relieve the nursing shortage, the top brass is allowing what are essentially and potentially COVID-infected healthcare workers back to work. And this, while perfectly healthy nurses have been fired and are left with nothing to do? Does this not completely destroy any arguments in support of vaccination passports, a label powerfully reminiscent of an armband from the darkest part of the 20th century?

What idiocy it this? What diabolical masters would deliberately risk the health and welfare of highly vulnerable patients simply because of an unscientific, once again, and ideologically driven agenda? To “solve” a crisis they knowingly created?

Don’t like that language? Then produce the peer-reviewed science that supports such evidently flawed and irrational actions. If you can do that, I will withdraw these statements. Otherwise, you medical and government mischiefs, consider yourself guilty as herein alleged.

I am calling on the Ford government to immediately legislate an immediate end to the illegal firings of thousands of competent, healthy frontline workers. While there would still be a shortfall, this action would provide instantaneous relief to the immediate crisis, one that has been orchestrated by someone who appears to operate under the thrall of someone who does not have at heart the best interests of the public.

Certainly, as mentioned by the editorial writer, there are historical contributions that contributed to our current medical crisis. But to speak about that alone and completely ignore the blatant and deliberate present-day causes is a demonstration of journalistic negligence of the worst kind.

Your readers have rightly come to expect a consistent high standard from your publication. Do you want to destroy that trust due to one-sided reporting?

John Schwartzentruber