Ralph Klein has gone and it is time to retire Ralph's World. Thanks to all of you who have supported this venture by contributing material and through your comments. It has been fun.

Should we get another blog underway? Let me know your thoughts by e-mailing me at johnnyslow@gmail.com.

John Slow
January 1, 2007

Monday, March 01, 2004

Normal Doesn’t Live Here Any More 

This presentation was given by Verna Milligan, citizen of Alberta, to the Government MLA Committee on Strengthening Alberta's Role in Confederation at its hearing in Edmonton on Friday, February 27, 2004. She has kindly agreed to have it published here at Ralph's World.

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to meet with you today.

I speak as a citizen of Alberta and Canada. But I have to have an extra strong cup of coffee these past several years before opening my newspaper – lest I see another glaring headline announcing that I am no longer part of another aspect Canadian society. They are becoming more and more intense – and alarming! This is the first time I’ve been asked my opinion.

Alberta is an amazing place to live: unmatched in beauty and resources but it is also amazing for several other reasons:

1. Amazing that in one decade, the philosophy and social principles of Peter Lougheed, “that all Albertans should share in the rich resources of our province” could be so totally reversed and devastated. Jim Dinning once said, “Normal doesn’t live here any more”. How true! Albertans have lost their normal sense of community, not only within the country of Canada – but even within our own borders. Ontario farmers sent Albertans free hay while some in the South were “gouging” their fellow Albertans. The well-off are pitted against the “problem-causing poor”, the young against the “healthcare- eating” seniors, and education against healthcare.

2. Amazing that our Provincial Government can keep a straight face when demanding elected Senators – when they just finished firing all the elected members of our Regional Health Boards a mere 18 months into their first and only term. A promise made prior to the 1997 election – and broken immediately after! Isn’t that Taxation without Representation?

3. Amazing to even think about opting out of Canada Pension Plan when we look at Alberta’s track record in investing:

Our Heritage Fund is at the original $12 Billion while Norway’s is $140 Billion. The secret? Royalties are higher in both Alaska and Norway – and the funds are at Arms Length from politicians – not a “candy dish” for politicians in power. By the way, the Alberta Government has never explained why, Alberta is still giving $300 Million PER YEAR in reduced Royalties – subsidies - to Petroleum Producers. (shouldn’t the industry be properly termed “Petroleum Extractors”? Our resources are not unlimited.)

And Alberta had a surplus of $ 7.4 Billion in 2000 (even after $ 4 Billion unbudgeted ‘rebates’) – but faced a financial ‘crisis’ a year later – forcing 30% higher healthcare premiums and curtailment of programs and infrastructure plans.

And a new report of the World Bank’s equates Alberta’s accounting systems with that of a Third World Country.

4. Amazing to hear our Provincial representatives demand more democracy and accountability Federally -- while denying Albertans even a fraction of theirs. Isn’t it true that the Federal Auditor General can “follow the money”, but the Provincial’s Auditor is restricted to studying “accounting systems”?

Where are the All Party Committees in Alberta? And the membership of the appointed committees for Auto Insurance, Protection of Persons in Care – make even the most diehard Conservative blush with shame! And room for dissent, no matter how many thousands? As the Premier told Readers Digest, “I just dismiss them”.

Alberta has had it's boondoggles: Calgary is in crisis. Blowing up a General Hospital and selling off two others (one for $ 4.5 M) -- when they can’t be replaced for under $500 Million – and years from now. But is anyone being held accountable for these irreversible decisions? Whose “heads have rolled”? Alberta’s boondoggles are on the backs of a population of 3 Million – as opposed to those in the Federal Government that is born by a population of ten times that number.

5. Amazing to ask for more Provincial control over healthcare when Insurance Companies are bilking citizens into buying “Interprovincial health insurance” at the same rate as going to the United States. Yes, the Feds have to pay their fair share – but with “Strings Attached” to the Canada Health Act.

Costs spiraling out of control? Not those under the Medicare Umbrella – but those that have been “cherry picked” from Medicare, resulting in a mushrooming of unplanned and uncontrolled private clinics – siphoning from the Medicare Bucket, some even advertising for more customers!
(Example: bone density tests from 1995-2001 went from $470,000 to $14 Million in five years)
Blue Cross is now “leveled” to the base plane of automobile insurance – and if citizens felt “powerless” then – they haven’t seen anything like ”pre-existing conditions” or cancellation because of sickness! And what is the cost to Employee Benefit plans of RHA’s, Municipalities, School boards, and individuals.

And now we are planning “Hotel Health”! Is this Step One in separating the “accommodation” fee from healthcare – as the Government has done in Nursing Homes, resulting in a 45 percent increase to residents?

By the way, why didn’t the Capital Health Authority, which discussed the Mazankowski report at several meetings, refused to have the Romanow Report entered as an Agenda item?

Alberta Advantage? Lets talk reality here. We have a population of 3 Million people – and a budget Surplus of $3.5 Billion – yet we have people sleeping on the streets in our climate.

Amazing that Albertans know that “ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY” so why would we hand more control of these vital aspects of our society to ONE government , instead of promoting and enhancing the healthy balance of power between our Federal and Provincial Governments?

Thank you,

Verna Milligan

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