Health And Education Should Come First

By | May 17, 2016

Originally published as a column in NewsKamloops.

PupI could delight you this time with some stories about our three-month-old puppy. Her deeds are cute, funny and downright naughty at times but cuteness comes with built-in ‘forgive me’ features and that’s that. Should she happen to need veterinary care because, say, she swallowed some sharp pebbles (true, she did), I have no trouble finding help in one of the clinics here in Kamloops.

That is reassuring. It’s good to get help when you need it and reassuring to know that you are not on your own with an issue that gives a few extra heart beats.

When it comes to my children, well, that’s a different problem. Over the last couple of weeks my youngest has been struggling with asthma on and off. As long as the puffer works, he gets some breathing help at night and I get some peace of mind. But puffers can only last that much and then you need a new prescription.

Unlike the urgent help I can get with our puppy, finding a spot in one of the local walk-in clinics for my son is a different matter. There are line-ups, there are lists, there is luck (or not) and there is the fear that, should he need additional tests done, there will a long waiting time before we can get in and get an answer. When one’s breathing is laboured, that is the farthest thing from reassuring.

This last week the news that the BC Children’s Hospital had to cancel some surgeries (non-emergency ones) because of a shortage of nurses was not only sad but infuriating. Though positive thinking tips include the one that says you should not ask ‘what if’, in this case I have to admit that the dreaded question crossed my mind.

What if? What if my children were among the non-urgent cases whose surgeries would be postponed because of a shortage of nurses? This kind of question becomes severely uncomfortable when it affects one directly. And it does, many people.

It does not cease to amaze me that our province lags when it comes to health, education and general child care issues. There are nurses I talked to who said they are overworked, many work on contract which means they have no benefits and support staff is scarce to make proper medical care a joke at times and their job a lot harder.

At the same time, many schools are closing throughout the province and in Vancouver too, where you’d think the rivers of money brought by real estate and foreign investors could positively impact the school situation.

That sometimes they are the only schools in an area (the case of the highschool in Osoyoos) makes it all the more shocking. Many teachers are being given the slip, many support staff too, so for parents whose life was a struggle at times because their children needed special assistance, life is becoming even more challenging.

Same goes for children struggling with chronic health issues. The families who appeal to the government for help are being told that there are no available funds for their case. To add to an already flammable list… we have the highest rate of child poverty in Canada, and there are communities where environmental pollution affects people’s health (as always, children are most susceptible), not that the latter is in any way a concern of the present provincial government.

Reading a well put together book on virtues with my youngest, we came across issues such honesty, kindness, compassion, and the discussions that ensued are nothing short of wonderful. We all want our children to learn to be honest, kind and compassionate. The world seems better that way. When someone goes the extra mile out of sheer kindness, it gives me hope.

When someone in a leading position makes the choice to remember that many people hope with all their might that vital issues like health, education, minimum wages and affordable daycare or support for people in poverty-ridden communities, are not overlooked but dealt with respectfully, that makes a world of difference. As it should.

Life is so far from perfect at times so our only hope is to stick together, to stand up for what’s right and to remember that though we may be out of harm’s way, some people aren’t, and their needs have to be solved. That a society where health and education are well taken care of sees many of its other issues solved too. It’s a story that could have a happy ending, but all characters, and primarily the ones in leading roles, need to show some good moral and intellectual virtues. Like honesty, kindness, compassion, courage and wisdom. That would do. Truly.

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