Canadian Veterans Advocacy

Saturday, August 22, 2015

New announcement: ONE VETERAN'S VOICE - TODAY and TOMORROW Ste Anne

by Wolf William Solkin


TODAY, It is reasonably accurate to say that, by and large, we Veterans at Ste. Anne's Hospital are still "enjoying the good life", with excellent health care standards, attentive and experienced employees, an effective staff-to -patient ratio, ready access to overarching medical and dental treatment, plus ample recreational/entertainment activities and facilities. The whole is embodied within a "hands-on" employees' culture of concern and compassion, to the substantial satisfaction of all of us on the receiving end of such bounty, which we now consider to be "normal". That is a fair assessment, based upon my personal experience, of the "facts of life" at Ste. Anne's, as they stand....."TODAY ".

BUT, and it is a very BIG "BUT" we are now perilously perched on the precipice of a very steep cliff, and will soon (next April Fools' Day ! ) be pushed over the perilous edge, into the deep, dark pit of the formal transfer/transition of Ste.Anne's from the caring hands of Ottawa's Veterans Affairs, to the clawing clutches of Quebec's Health Department and its heavy-handed Minister Barrette, whose main mantra appears to be..."My Way, or the Highway!".

"TOMORROW" is when , where , and how our pains and problems will increase exponentially, in spite of the well-meaning and sincere assurances from Veterans Affairs Canada, that nothing of significance will change for us here. Those soothing statements stem from the recently signed Transfer Agreement which, among other crucial concessions, commits Ottawa to pay Quebec a substantial " per diem" financial subsidy, to be used for the express purpose of providing each of us with our accustomed high standards of care.

So much so, to the extent that VAC plans to create and operate a "Two-Tier" system, wherein we Vets will receive a higher grade of care than the forthcoming "civilian" patients. Realistically, it is patently not feasible that such a duality of programs be implemented, with all of us housed within the one hi-rise building, containing only one clinic floor, one pharmacy, one physio/occupational therapy facility, one kitchen, and so on, unto one indivisible set of "common elements" (e.g., auditorium, library, , staff offices, etc.), albeit entirely administered and completely controlled by the Province of Quebec, as "The New Sheriff in Town"....starting "TOMORROW".

I I can but envision the ensuing confusion, confrontations and contradictions, as a re-make of the iconic "Abbott & Costello" classic comedy routine of "Who's on First ?....What's on Second ..?..
Why's on Third ?"...and so on , until major meltdown inevitably moves in.

I do not doubt the sincerity of VAC's belief that their "Dream Scheme" will work out as planned, but I fear that, before long, Ottawa (and we Vets) will be low man on Quebec's totem pole. We all know that the tail should not wag the dog, and that the fox should never be assigned to guard the hen-house, but that is exactly what I predict will happen to us at Ste. Anne's, on the morrow, unless "TODAY" we exercise our own due -diligence. keep our own eyes wide open, report our own complaints, protect our own rights, and defend our own way of life by speaking up, acting out, and participating prominently to mitigate what surely promises to be a traumatic transition...."TOMORROW".

If it is axiomatic that " only the squeaky wheel gets the oil", then just picture the possible production of petroleum we might be provided with, if we are willing and able to raise one helluva holler in the hallow halls of the legislatures in both Ottawa and Quebec, BEFORE "they" hammer the final nail to close the coffin of transfer tribulations, with us still inside, while there is yet some "wriggle room". And even after that, we must keep banging loudly on the lid until the public, if not the complacent and compliant politicians on our payroll , hears us and calls for our release from the potentially harsh conditions of our confinement, and the restoration of all our rightful rights,versus only some residual remnants.

We "grass roots" Veterans at Ste. Anne's MUST be included, in one form or another, as part and parcel of the Transfer/Transition process, becoming truly and directly represented on and heard by the VAC "Oversight Committee" and/or the hybrid "Transition ignore that, would be the worst "oversight" of all ! Otherwise, we could well wake up one not-so-fine morning, only to find that Ottawa's subsidy for/to SAH has somehow mysteriously wandered its way over to some new bridge to nowhere, or some other obscenely overpriced construction projects, or (Heaven forbid !) even to some plump political pockets , or some bagman's snazzy sox !

In the final analysis , the bottom line is : who, in Ottawa , is going to be responsible for properly transmitting the "per diem" subsidy funds for Ste. Anne's Veterans ? ; who, in Quebec, is going to be responsible for disbursing those funds to Ste. Anne's ?; who is going to be responsible for keeping track of the application of said funds ?; who is going to be responsible for reporting any discrepancies , anomalies or just plain, old -fashioned fraud and chicanery ?; and to which body?; and who, if anyone, is going to have the full authority and responsibility for enforcing meaningful measures to rectify any wrong-doings ?

In essence, who will be charged, on an ongoing basis ( far beyond the initial three-year "guarantee" period), with the ultimate responsibility of closing the barn door before too many prized horses are gone ? Or, to go further forward with the rural metaphor, who on God's green earth will watch over the proper and promised use of the per diem dollars in the Ste. Anne's Hospital hen-house....the feral fox from Quebec, or the more fair-minded but unpredictable, fickle farmer from Ottawa ?

We must all be ever-vigilant and protest aggressively against various terms of the Transfer Agreement and its more roughshod regulations and collateral repercussions...of prohibitive parking fees for visitors , volunteers and employees...of less qualified and fewer staff, as linked to protection of seniority and retention of the very special current crop of nurses and orderlies...of inadequate security measures...of increased meal charges for all non-Veterans...of the potential for misapplication of private funds donated specifically to the Veterans for their exclusive use ...of who gets to enjoy the fruits of the SAH Foundation's labours in raising funds for the welfare of "their" Veterans, and many, many more factors that could well become "Game-Changers" for all of us who are here "for the duration".

Good faith and good intentions alone will not prevent us from being overcome by the powerful and destructive force of the Transfer/Transition Tsunami now on our near horizon. Our only chance for any survival at all, is if we work our bony butts off NOW, to preserve and inject more of what we treasure "TODAY", into what I fearfully foresee will be coming down the pike "TOMORROW" !

And, as ever, please remember to....


A VETERAN'S VOICE: Intro / TRANSFER of Ste Anne by Wolf Solkin WWII Veteran

VETERANS' VOTES ARE VITAL by Wolf William Solkin


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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

New announcement: VETERANS' VOTES ARE VITAL by Wolf William Solkin

by Wolf William Solkin


It has indeed been the iconic Biblical "Threescore years and ten" since our generation of WW II Veterans finally forced the foes of our freedoms , the Nazis and the Fascists, to abandon their destructive and dastardly efforts to rule over us by dictatorship defeating democracy.

At that time we were all so truly proud and happy that autocratic rule over most of the world was replaced by the democratic process, whereby we were primarily granted the ("God-given"?)) right to VOTE, to select and/or reject our nation's leaders.

There were, of course, many other precious rights and freedoms that we gained, but they could not have surfaced, let alone thrived, without our first having the cornerstone upon which they could be and fair elections, whereby we could express our desires and demands for our preferred way of life by (s)electing those legislators whom we felt would best represent our best interests.

However, and sad to say, as the years came and went, so too did our enthusiasm and interest for engaging ourselves and concerning ourselves with governing ourselves, wane and decrease to the point of diminishing (electoral) returns.

To quote from a recent article written by Pete McMartin of the 'Vancouver Sun', ..."In all,the adjusted turnout for the 2011 federal election was 58.5 per cent, second lowest in the country's history...The largest voter turnouts came in the decades after the Second World War.. Perhaps the visceral connection between sacrifice and the democratic process was more evident to voters...(and Veterans)...then, because it was literally paid for in blood...".

Right on ! There is no question that many of us, have slowed down, drowsed off and grown fat...OK, no need to be ashamed of our weight. But there is a great need to be deeply ashamed of not carrying our weight, when it comes down to our real responsibility to act as responsible citizens, in determining the continuing way of life for that very same country of ours for which we few fought so fiercely to keep our freedoms flourishing. "Our" war of yore may be long over, but there are still battles to be fought for our country within our country.....not with bullets, but with ballots !

Both as Veterans and as part of the total Canadian citizenry, we are faced with myriad problems which affect us today, and will affect our children and grandchildren tomorrow and the day(s) .following. Not only what will become of my vanishing vintage of Vets, but also, and equally if not more important, the current and future treatment of our "younger" brothers -in-arms, who fought just as hard and bled just as much, trying to keep the peace in perilous places like Somalia, Bosnia, Rwanda,Haiti, the Middle East and many others, plus "the pick of the litter" being Afghanistan. Enough said !!

And that is by no means all that should concern us as Veterans. What about such things as the economy , higher taxes, cost of living increases, unemployment and so on down the very long line of important matters affecting not only you, but your family, your neighbours, your community and, for that matter, your/our whole darn country ? Or do you just not care anymore, and have become indifferent to what's happening in and to the world outside your own little comfort zone ?

"So what?", you say....I'll tell you " what" ! We Canadians have a national election coming up this 19th of October, and while I will never presume to tell anyone whom to vote for, I do dare to demand that we all get off our bony butts to participate in our cherished democratic process. Help to elect the representative(s) whom, after due diligence, you decide will best act on your/our personal and collective behalf, as Veterans of all ages and all military operations. Check him/her out very carefully, satisfy yourself that your choice will not just talk the talk, but actually walk the walk, and is prepared to do so in your old service boots !

Your duty as a Canadian /Veteran is far from over. You fought for and preserved a democratic way of life; now is the time for you to benefit from your victory by voting for those candidates who will most truly and consistently recognize, respect and reinforce the rights of all true Veterans all across Canada.

Voting is not simply a right or a privilege. I look upon voting as an obligation that we Veterans should/must fulfil at all costs, and I sometimes even consider the possible advantages of enforceable mandatory voting laws, such as now exist in some forward-looking countries. Whatever your view, let your views be known to the people who are even now submitting their resumes and applying to you and me for the pretty cushy yet highly critical job of performing as OUR public servants and doing OUR bidding for the forthcoming years.

So do yourself, your family, your friends and your fellow-Vets a forever favour, by going out to VOTE, and getting out the VOTE !!!!

And always remember to....

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