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B.C. judge in landmark public health case had treatment in private clinic

Justice John Steeves was a patient at a private medical facility a few years before the trial began in 2017 – having an operation to fix a sinus problem.

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The B.C. judge who rejected a request to overturn part of province’s medicare rules — including a ban on private health insurance — himself had surgery in a private clinic several years ago.

Justice John Steeves’ 800-page ruling on Friday said the current B.C. health system meets all the criteria of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Ironically, Steeve was a patient at a private medical facility a few years before the trial began in 2017 – having an operation to fix a sinus problem.

In 2017, the Vancouver Sun reported Steeves, gave lawyers for both sides verbal assurances that he didn’t go to the Cambie Surgery Centre – the facility involved in the lawsuit – for his sinus operation.

And after first disclosing the information during pre-trial conferences, the judge also provided other information upon request, such as who paid for his surgery.

Steeves said he didn’t pay for it privately because Vancouver Coastal Health did, the Sun reported. Under such contracts, a clinic is paid a per diem amount for a bundle of cases. in 2016, VCH paid False Creek Surgery Centre a per diem rate of $5,850 to do outpatient day surgeries. 

The medical director of the False Creek Surgery Centre, Dr. Mark Godley, has said he thinks there isn’t a judge in Vancouver who hasn’t used a private surgery centre.

The Thursday ruling was hailed by supporters of public health care as a huge win for the current system.

It is widely expected the case will now go to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The central point of the case revolved around laws that ban private health insurance, and prevent doctors from charging patients on top of what they receive from the province for medically necessary services.

Cambie Surgeries clinic and other plaintiffs argued the rules breach the Charter of Rights when the public system is backed up with long waiting lists.

In Alberta, David Shepherd, the NDP’s health critic hailed the ruling.

“I am very pleased that the courts upheld the principles of Medicare today against those who would try to Americanize our public healthcare system,” said Shepherd.

“The court concluded, based on expert evidence, that the introduction of private healthcare would actually increase wait times. This is an important message for Alberta.

“The BC Supreme Court’s ruling sends a clear message to Premier Jason Kenney and his Health Minister Tyler Shandro, that their rush towards American-style healthcare is completely wrong for Alberta families. The ruling against the Cambie Clinic strikes down a privatized approach that Jason Kenney is attempting to impose on Albertans today.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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Buffalo Party goes into its first Saskatchewan election

The new party will get its first baptism of fire on October 26th.

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Saskatchewan will head to the polls before on October 26, giving the province’s new Buffalo Party its first chance to test itself with the electorate, while Premier Scott Moe seeks to extend the Saskatchewan Party’s 13-year reign.

This will be Moe’s first time leading his party into an election, having gained the leadership in 2018 following Brad Wall’s retirement.

The sovereigntist Wexit Saskatchewan registered as an official political party in March but later rebranded itself as the Buffalo Party

Interim leader Wade Sira says that he wants a strong West. 

“I’m more on the independence side. I’ve always been very [pro] independence for Western Canada whether it was in Canada or out of Canada, but we do need a stronger voice and stronger say in what’s going on in this country. We’re kind of left as a colony of Eastern Canada. I’ve never liked that ever since I was in high school,” Sira told the Western Standard.

Although the second term of a Trudeau government is a fertile time for sovereigntists like the Buffalo Party to gain ground, a pandemic is not. Covid-19 restrictions have lowered legal attendance to 30 venues in some places. The economic setback from the lockdown makes it a difficult time to fundraise.

“It’d be nice to . . . have more funds because we’re taking on the juggernaut of the Sask Party. The NDP don’t have a lot, and any other party out there is in the same position we are–that some of our fundraising is going to be back to our own account for making sure we can at least get some advertising,” Sira says.

Sira says the party is picking up support, especially from disaffected Saskatchewan Party supporters.

“We always known there was no one who was going to be able to replace Brad Wall. That was just a given; but the fact [is] that he [Moe] hasn’t done much in the last two years except close down our power plants and helped to close down our oil fields. He keeps sending off letters down to Ottawa saying that he wants pipelines built or he’s not happy with the gun laws, but there’s not a lot of action coming out of him,” Sira says.

The NDP chose Saskatoon doctor Ryan Meili as their new leader in 2018. Sira says the NDP’s embrace of “identity politics” has not sat well with some old NDP voters.

“More people in Saskatchewan are traditional people, whether they are the NDP or whether they are right of the spectrum or left of the spectrum. And a lot more people believe that all people matter. Yeah, some people have been treated worse than others throughout history but we need to move past this,” Sira says.

Sira believes the Buffalo Party could snag six of Saskatchewan’s 61 seats. He expects just 12 to 16 candidates will fly his party’s banner in October, though at present only five have been confirmed.  Sira will run in Martensville-Warman just north of Saskatoon and former PPC candidate Phil Zajac will run in Estevan, where many are upset at the federal move to shut down coal-fired power plants.

“Carbon capture is there and it’s proven and it’s working. Estevan, they feel they’ve been let down by the province and let down by the feds, because they’ve got both industries down there, oil and gas and coal,” says Sira.

“I drive truck right now so I drive all over Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan…There’s a lot of people unhappy. You know as well as I do, can you turn that frustration into actual votes?”

University of Saskatchewan political science professor Joseph Garcea believes a Sask Party majority is a “foregone conclusion.” Garcea says the NDP lack an overarching vision to counter Sask Party attack ads aimed at Meili and the legacy of the Romanow-Calvert era. Garcea says a few seats in Regina or Saskatoon could be at play, but little else will change.

An EKOS poll released August 31 showed the Sask Party enjoyed 60 per cent popular support, compared to 28 percent for the NDP, and 12 percent for other parties. The SP/NDP spread was 12 and 13 points in Regina and Saskatoon respectively, and just 9 points among university grads in the province. The poll did not ask respondents about potentially voting for the Buffalo Party.

On the Buffalo Party, Garcea says, “They will get some votes, but I think it’ll be more along the lines of what the Green Party gets, where the Green Party gets a particular type of individual that believes primarily in one thing…They’re against the federal state but they’re also against the provincial state. And they’re going to get these really, if I may say so, angry and sense of marginalized, anti-statist [voters]. They will gravitate to that party, but I do not think that there are many constituencies where it is likely to garner enough support to come in second.”

Lee Harding is the Saskatchewan Affairs Columnist for the Western Standard

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UCP MLA calls Alberta CERB recipients lazy ‘Cheezie-eaters’

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The NDP is calling for an apology from Premier Jason Kenney after one of his MLAs called Albertans lazy “Cheezie-eating” people who used CERB money for drugs.

Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland MLA Shane Getson also called the federal emergency COVID-19 cash “funny money” at a recent townhall meeting.

He noted some companies are having trouble hiring workers because people make more on CERB and those Alberta recipients are “eating Cheezies watching cartoons.”

Getson said a friend in B.C. had noted drug abusers there had suddenly gone from earning $700 a month to $2,000 on CERB, a problem he has also noticed in Alberta.

“Now all of a sudden we have addiction problems going through the roof…then what, the funny money runs out.”

It’s unclear in the clip whether at the start Getson was referring to all Albertans or just those on drugs.

Getson video

“It is absolutely vile that a UCP MLA would make such a baseless and harmful statement about the hardworking people of Alberta who were forced to access emergency support during a global pandemic,” said Christina Gray, NDP Labour Critic. 

“People accessed these funds because their workplaces shut down or because they or their families were forced to isolate. The UCP defends their own use of emergency support for their debt ridden political party, while their MLA attacks struggling Albertans who needed support. Premier Kenney and Shane Getson owe all Albertans an apology for these thoughtless and hurtful comments.” 

Statistics Canada said 1,062,640 Albertans applied for the CERB.

“These comments are heartless and appalling,” said Heather Sweet, NDP Critic for Addictions and Mental Health. 

Notley tweet

“We learned just days ago about the tragic deaths of 301 Albertans to opioid overdoses. For an MLA to essentially joke about addictions at this time is beyond the pale. It speaks to the lack of compassion this government repeatedly shows when it comes to addressing mental health and addictions in this province Getson needs to immediately apologize for his ignorant and hurtful comments.”

Getson issued a statement later Tuesday.

Today, the NDP has politicized some remarks I made at a recent town hall by taking them out of context for political gain. The context was that a local business owner had raised concerns about not being able to hire workers despite being able to operate.

Clearly, the vast majority of recipients of government support truly need it. At the same time, some legitimate concerns have been raised about these programs that cannot be ignored. 

According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, CERB was the number one reason cited by small business owners for their inability to recall workers. And according to Ottawa Inner City Health, CERB is fueling overdoses in Canada’s capital city.

These are important issues that deserve our attention as they are happening everywhere. I recently spoke about these issues at a town hall in my community. Unsurprisingly, the NDP is now attacking me instead of focusing on how we keep our people safe.

It is important that we look at the evidence objectively. This will help protect our families and businesses in these difficult times.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Moe promises balanced budget in Saskatchewan in four years

“I believe in Saskatchewan. But Scott Moe’s old ideas aren’t working,” said NDP leader Ryan Meili

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Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe kicked off the province’s election campaign with a vow to balance the books by 2024.

The province ran a $2.4-billion deficit for the 2020-21, a figure largely blamed on falling oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moe, during a campaign kick-off in Regina, said his Saskatchewan Party has a “plan for a strong economic recovery with a balanced budget by 2024.”

He said Saskatchewan now, despite a “challenging economy”, has the lowest unemployment rate in the country and urged voters not to go back to the policies of the NDP.

“They closed hospitals, we are building hospitals,” said Moe, whose party is well ahead in the polls.

“This election is about ‘who do you trust.'”

NDP leader Ryan Meili was itching to get on the campaign trail.

“New Democrats are ready to run a great campaign against this government that is old and out of ideas. Let’s go!” he tweeted.

Ryan Meili
Courtesy Twitter

“I believe in Saskatchewan. But Scott Moe’s old ideas aren’t working. We need to invest in healthcare, in our kids’ schools, in getting people back on their feet. Let’s build a better future that puts people first.”

The election will be held Oct. 26, two days after the vote in B.C.

When the legislature was dissolved, Moe’s Saskatchewan Party held a 46-13 lead over the NDP.

Moe was sworn in as premier in 2018.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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