Reporting on the provincial government’s promises on improvements to health-care services should have been simple.
Either the promises were being kept, or they were not.
But dealing with government is never easy and our experience with the Ministry of Health brought to mind Friedrich Nietzsche’s contention that there were no such things as facts, only interpretations. It’s a cynical observation, but bear with us.
We asked Health Minister Adrian Dix whether the health-care improvements he announced in April were moving ahead and were assured that by spring two new doctors would be arriving to work at the expanded West Coast Family Medical Clinic.
His exuberant response was there would also be the addition of a nurse practitioner and two registered nurses; professionals who would assist in delivering a team-based approach to health care in the community.
All true. Sort of.
Remember that Dix’s response was coming within the context of his spring announcement that it was four additional doctors who were part of the plan. It seems he hoped that we’d forgotten that part of the announcement.
And while the basic failure in mathematics was something we might have let pass, there was more.
We learned from the West Coast Medical Clinic that while two new doctors might be coming to Sooke, there would be no increase in the number of doctors in the community.
It seems following his spring announcement two doctors left the clinic in August. The two “new” physicians he’d referenced would simply replace those doctors, and the new hires would only return the clinic to the historical staffing level of nine doctors.
“New,” it seemed, did not mean “additional,” and there was no real headway being made.
Dix could have told us that. He also have could have opted to address the real issue that in B.C. general practitioners are as rare as hen’s teeth and the problem is rooted in a massive pay disparity (about $110,000) between what B.C. pays it’s doctors and the pay they can receive in Alberta.
He could have given us all that information, but he didn’t and it brought to mind another famous quotation.
It was Mark Twain who said that “a half-truth is the most cowardly of lies.”
It’s something Dix should consider the next time he’s asked a question.