David McConkey - Columnist, Consultant, Citizen
Columnist. Consultant. Citizen.

Health Care: Gratitude, Reality and Just Doing It

Brandon Sun, January 31, 2022 – David McConkey

Because of the pandemic and the long waiting lists, there have been calls to update our health-care system. But I find that much public discussion avoids saying much of anything. Like, in the last federal election, politicians avoided saying much of significance. So, I volunteer to say something here: both some general thoughts and some actual specifics.

My observations are informed by my being in my senior years and am at the stage of falling apart. So I have more interaction now with health-care professionals. You will notice a recurring theme here of gratitude.


I believe that our political leaders are good people who genuinely want the best for folks. But because of ingrained patterns, our leaders often find themselves avoiding the issues or spouting hogwash.

Let’s start by recognizing that we are on an endless “treadmill.” Medical advances mean that we live longer. But the longer we live, the more medical problems we have. New medical advances also raise our expectations and raise our costs of keeping up.

But our political leaders do not want to admit that we are on a treadmill. They do not want to admit that we citizens have to face hard realities, which are now even harder because of the pandemic. For instance, we may well have to lower our expectations, do more to live healthily, talk more openly about death, pay for more of the services we use and pay higher taxes to cover what the government provides for us.

We might be thinking: Why don’t our political leaders be more honest with us? But that’s not the question to ask. Politicians follow our lead. Instead, we should ask: How could we encourage our leaders to be more honest? That we would vote for them even if they told us the truth?


We think of the pandemic as a disaster, yet we should be grateful. It could have been much worse. Earlier variants could have been more transmissible; all variants, including Omicron, could have been more deadly. Vaccines might not have been developed as quickly. Let’s express gratitude and learn what we can to better prepare for the next pandemic, which may come soon.


Let’s treat the pandemic as an opportunity to just do it! We have already done that by increasing the use of phone calls instead of in-person medical visits. For a long time, we knew this would be more efficient and cost effective, but inertia stood in the way of implementation. Then, with the pandemic, we started just doing it. A new motto: let’s just do it!

Here are two more examples where we should just do it. The first relates to the shortage of doctors. For decades, we have found it difficult and expensive to get doctors to come and practise in Manitoba. Yet we have also known that – for many situations – nurse practitioners can replace doctors at a lower cost. As well, nurses can be trained in Manitoba and they tend to stay here. Let's just do it.

Another example is to allow and encourage more private clinics to set up and operate in the province. We need new clinics to take on surgeries and diagnostic tests that 150,000 (!) Manitobans currently are waiting for. Right now, a fortunate few can go to the U.S. for such services, either on their own dime or paid for by the government. Why not have such clinics located right here in Manitoba?

But isn’t that “privatization”? Right now is the time to call out this shibboleth for what it is: nonsense.

I think of the health-care services I access: physician, dentist, optometrist, pharmacist, lab and occasionally others. All these services are “private.” I would like to express gratitude for these private businesses for setting up in Brandon and providing fine services.

I am also grateful that I have the ability to pay for services – like dental treatments, glasses, medications, surgical upgrades – that I know some folks in our society cannot afford. I would like to live in a society where these services were provided at little or no cost to everyone.

But my paying for services does not deprive anyone else from obtaining these services. On the contrary, my paying for these services helps support an infrastructure in Brandon that is then available to more people. The same would be the case of clinics that performed much needed hip or knee surgery.

Let's be grateful, face reality and then just do it.

* * * *
See also: 

The Pandemic: Do Better This Time, Prepare for Next Time 

Will the Pandemic Shake Canadian Complacency?

Two More Health-Care Ideas

Telling the Truth Today

Getting to Good Ideas

Science, Experts and Flu Shots

Enlightenment Values Are Needed Now More Than Ever



David McConkey,
Brandon, Manitoba
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Extraordinary Canadians:
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The Greatest Show on Earth:
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