HC spending escalates under Medicare monopoly

August 4, 2015

Kudos to Dr. Shelley Duggan, president of the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association, for urging the Alberta government to move forward in negotiations and transition planning with the company slated to take over lab services for the Edmonton region [“MDs push province on lab services” August 4].

In its predictable, knee-jerk reaction, the so-called Friends of Medicare has again attacked for-profit health care, but is silent on the cost-effectiveness of unionized, non-competitive, public health-care delivery with its higher wage rates and generous benefits in unionized contracts.

Patients should expect the very best quality health care. Taxpayers should expect the very best return on investment [ROI], which is alien to the union-dominated Friends of Medicare. Moreover, private companies pay taxes, which public entities such as Alberta Health Services do not.

In Alberta, the Medicare monopoly has seen health care expenditures escalate from 30% of the provincial budget in the early 1980s to about 50% today. This leaves less money for other determinants of health such as social housing, social assistance, seniors’ programs, etc.

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IABC Calgary knows how to celebrate 50 years

Networking is a hallmark of IABC. Calgary Mayor Nenshi has known Calgary IABC President Will Tigley since Will was a lad. So, guess who dropped in to IABC Calgary’s Black-and-White 50th Anniversary Gala January 28? The USA’s travel ban on Muslim countries was on the mayor’s mind as he spoke to the importance of community, how stories help to make communities, and how communicators are expert storytellers.

The event was held at Calgary’s fabled Olympic Park with the ski jump made famous by Eddie “The Eagle” in the background. A jazz duo [keyboards and voice] entertained with classics. Instead of the usual seat-down, an informal atmosphere with ample standing-room tables encouraged camaraderie. Appetizers were delicious, the buffet was outstanding, and the wine was reasonably priced.

Incoming IABC Chair, Sharon Hunter from Montreal, was in town. She adroitly delivered the IABC corporate message without trying the patience of the crowd. Via video, tributes poured in from IABC chapters around the world, including Edmonton 😆.

On behalf of the IABC Canada Master Communicator program, I had the honor of recognizing Calgary’s fifth Master Communicator, Allison Mackenzie and presenting her with her medal. [My speaking notes appear below].

I’ve organized several dozen corporate dinners and conferences, but special events are not my forte, especially the complexity of this gala with its entertainment, corporate sponsors, and details down to assistance in arranging in taxis. There’s a Gold Quill just waiting to be had.

My Speaking Notes

On behalf of the Master Communicator program of IABC Canada, thank you to IABC Calgary for having us as part of your evening.Will … congratulations to you … the organizers … the chapter executive … and all members of Calgary IABC.

But – as you can see from how John [Larsen] and I are dressed [in tuxedos] … we didn’t the get the memo from Will [IABC Calgary President Will Tigley] about “black tie” meaning … well, “black tie.”

  • 50 years … half-a-century. WOW!
  • And, a Black-and-White Gala!

To borrow a small-town Prairie expression:

  • It’s so impressive to see everybody dressed up in their Sunday best … but wanting to behave like it’s Saturday night and it’s been happy hour all day at the local bar.

Yep, I’m feeling right at home.

 

We also had galas in the small town where I grew up. And … black-and-white was extra special.

  • Black … brush your cowboy hat
  • White … T-shirt right out of the plastic – not ironed
  •  Gala
    • Wash your blue jeans
    • Clean ALL the manure off your cowboy boots

When I mentioned this to my wife … she looked at me and said,

“Ron, this is Calgary. It isn’t Grandview, Manitoba.”

  • Which is why I’m dressed the way I am tonight.
  • And, besides, as I mentioned, I didn’t get the memo from Will.

 

 

The Chair of the 2016 Master Communicator program was Jacqui d’Eon from Ontario. As Past Chairman, I was one of the six master communicators on the committee.

It is my privilege tonight to represent Jacqui, the other committee members, all other Master Communicators … and the program itself.

Master Communicator is the highest honor that IABC Canada can bestow on an IABC member.

Since the program began 36 years ago … in 1980 … there have only been 52 recipients.

One with Calgary connection of three years is Tudor Williams, now in Vancouver. Tudor is also a Fellow of IABC. Another from Vancouver … and with us tonight, is Jennifer Wah. Jennifer is also an IABC Fellow.

But four Master Communicators made their mark and earned their reputations here in Calgary.

They are:

  • John Larsen – 2012
  • Glenna Cross – 2005
  • Elaine Dixson – 2004
  • Basil Skodyn – 1992

Last year … 2016 … the number of Master Communicators across the country increased by two to 54. And … the Calgary number increased from four to five.

In addition to being an Accredited Business Communicator … an ABC … there are five criteria for Master Communicator.

  1. Contributions to the organizational communication field and profession.
  2. Communication career achievement.
  3. Authorship, speaking and lecturing on communications topics.
  4. Contributions to IABC.
  5. Other … for example, community activities and volunteerism

A more extensive description can be found on the IABC Canada website.

 

But … before I present the Master Communicator medal to one of your colleagues … please allow me one very personal and heartfelt observation.

  • I have always said I would have had a career without IABC
  • But … I have had the career I have had … because of IABC.

 

Now … on with the show.

 

Allison Mackenzie … would you please come forward.

 

Allison … as you look out on the room … I know there are many faces who once were in your classroom.

You have played a pivotal role in the careers of hundreds of professional communicators. Your influence is generational.

Judging by the feedback that the Master Communicator Committee received, you are an amazing:

  • Professor
  • Teacher
  • Guidance counsellor
  • Mentor
  • Coach

Indeed, if you were to take that DNA test offered by Ancestory.dot.com … I’ll bet they’d find that mentoring and coaching are imbedded in your DNA.

 

Allison … just think of how many careers you have launched … and the successes your students have already had … and will have.

A common theme in your letters of support was your generosity … sharing your time … sharing your experience … and sharing your expertise.

It’s also important to applaud your leadership at the university. The communications department owes you a debt of gratitude.

Your leadership with IABC includes your chairmanship of the IABC Academy.

 

Someone who knows Allison better than most people is John Larsen.

John … would you please share your thoughts about this remarkable woman and outstanding communicator.

John’s Remarks/Thanks, John.

 

Ask Allison to step forward

Allison … On behalf of IABC Canada and all the other Master Communicators, it is a privilege to present you with your Master Communicator medal.

Present medal

[APPLAUSE]

Allison … Now, it’s your opportunity to say a few words.

– 30 –

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ode to Sandra Jansen

Until 48 hours ago, Sandra Jansen was an Alberta PC MLA who had been a candidate for the party’s leadership. No longer. She’s “crossed the floor” to join the NDP Government.

A major difference is PCs are pro-business and free enterprise. The NDP promotes its anti-privatization agenda in health care, a carbon tax and a higher minimum wage.

[The Liberal party is usually considered in the middle between PC and NDP.] Jason Kenney is a PC leadership candidate.]

Accordingly, the following words just spilled onto the page.

Ode to Sandra Jansen

When Tories turn left and cross the floor

It’s usually because the Liberals have a welcome mat and open door.

 

But, if you’re pragmatic as Sandra claims to be

You zoom past “Go” and all the doors until you get to NDP.

 

Because you’re a progressive, now happy as a clam

Conservative is such an ugly word, you have to understand.

 

So, she hopes she has put on Jason Kenney a hex

In hopes that Santa Claus – and a cabinet post– soon are next.

 

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Edmonton Journal columnist besmirches reputations of fraternity members

Because of USA President-Elect Donald Trump, misogynist may become the “it” word for 2016.

The tragedy would be if we become tone-deaf due to its ubiquitous, and if its over-use and misuse result in its losing impact. For example, Edmonton Journal columnist Paula Simons tarring members of fraternities with the misogyny brush. [Alberta politics must resist misogynist “frat boy” culture, November 10]

She has choice words about Mr. Trump whom she describes as “the biggest, loudest, grossest, sleaziest ‘frat boy’ of them all — a man who truly doesn’t believe he’s ever committed a sexual aggression, because he fondly imagines that it’s every woman’s dream to be felt up by his short-fingered hands.”

Ms. Simons is — as am I —  rightly, strongly and fervently against misogyny. She also rails against the treatment reported by women from various political parties in Alberta. Most recently:

  • One female candidate dropping out of the Progressive Conservative [PC] leadership race due to what she said were sexist harassment and intimidation. [The party is prepared to investigate.]
  • Another female candidate dropping out of the same leadership race. “She didn’t specifically raise issues of misogyny. But then, since she timed her announcement to come just moments after [the first woman], she really didn’t need to.”

Misandry has been defined as “the hatred or  dislike of men or boys.” Misandry “can manifest itself in numerous ways, including sexual discrimination, denigration of men, violence against men, sexual objectification of men, ‘or more broadly, the hatred, fear, anger and contempt of men’.”

When it comes to misandry vis-à-vis misogyny, Ms. Simons appears to have a double standard as she seamlessly pillories every frater as being from the Trump mould. [Alberta politics must resist misogynist “frat boy” culture]

What a repulsive, misleading, hate-baiting and scurrilous headline for the Journal to publish on the front page. Thousands and thousands of fraternity members [men] were targeted and their reputations were besmirched.

Every fraternity can name members who have achieved extraordinary success. I pledged and joined Tau Kappa Epsilon [TKE] with Gary Doer. He was to become Manitoba’s only three-term premier and then served Canada as our country’s ambassador to the United States. Neither he nor I are misogynist, despite what the Journal headline not only implied, but also boldly stated.

As a proud member of Tau Kappa Epsilon, I personally know the value and the values that being a member of a fraternity can bring.

Ms. Simons’ “apologies to all decent fraternity members” in the 10th paragraph is insulting, gratuitous, self-serving — a classic example trying to cover your ass. The Journal knows most people only read the headline and a maximum of the first three paragraphs. Therefore, if Ms. Simon  was truly sincere, “apologies” with an explanation should have been the lead paragraph!

Instead, as a man and a member of a fraternity, I’m left with a commentary and headline that are most unsettling and most unfair in their blanket condemnations, associations and insinuations; and, in language and tone that some may feel borders on “contempt of men.”

 

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Will misogyny become the “it” word of 2016?

Because of USA President-Elect Donald Trump, misogynist may become the “it” word for 2016.

The tragedy would be if we become tone-deaf due to its ubiquitous, and if its over-use and misuse result in its losing impact. For example, Edmonton Journal columnist Paula Simons tarring members of fraternities with the misogyny brush. [Alberta politics must resist misogynist “frat boy” culture, November 10]

She has choice words about Mr. Trump whom she describes as “the biggest, loudest, grossest, sleaziest ‘frat boy’ of them all — a man who truly doesn’t believe he’s ever committed a sexual aggression, because he fondly imagines that it’s every woman’s dream to be felt up by his short-fingered hands.”

Ms. Simons is — as am I —  rightly, strongly and fervently against misogyny. She also rails against the treatment reported by women from various political parties in Alberta. Most recently:

  • One female candidate dropping out of the Progressive Conservative [PC] leadership race due to what she said were sexist harassment and intimidation. [The party is prepared to investigate.]
  • Another female candidate dropping out of the same leadership race. “She didn’t specifically raise issues of misogyny. But then, since she timed her announcement to come just moments after [the first woman], she really didn’t need to.”

Misandry has been defined as “the hatred or  dislike of men or boys.” Misandry “can manifest itself in numerous ways, including sexual discrimination, denigration of men, violence against men, sexual objectification of men, ‘or more broadly, the hatred, fear, anger and contempt of men’.”

When it comes to misandry vis-à-vis misogyny, Ms. Simons appears to have a double standard as she seamlessly pillories every frater as being from the Trump mould. [Alberta politics must resist misogynist “frat boy” culture]

What a repulsive, misleading, hate-baiting and scurrilous headline for the Journal to publish on the front page. Thousands and thousands of fraternity members [men] were targeted and their reputations were besmirched.

Every fraternity can name members who have achieved extraordinary success. I pledged and joined Tau Kappa Epsilon [TKE] with Gary Doer. He was to become Manitoba’s only three-term premier and then served Canada as our country’s ambassador to the United States. Neither he nor I are misogynist, despite what the Journal headline not only implied, but also boldly stated.

As a proud member of Tau Kappa Epsilon, I personally know the value and the values that being a member of a fraternity can bring.

Ms. Simons’ “apologies to all decent fraternity members” in the 10th paragraph is insulting, gratuitous, self-serving — a classic example trying to cover your ass. The Journal knows most people only read the headline and a maximum of the first three paragraphs. Therefore, if Ms. Simon  was truly sincere, “apologies” with an explanation should have been the lead paragraph!

Instead, as a man and a member of a fraternity, I’m left with a commentary and deadline that are most unsettling and most unfair in their blanket condemnations, associations and insinuations; and, in language and tone that some may feel borders on “contempt of men.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Will Farrell’s reputational disaster

Will: Where’s the on-camera public apology with personal and heartfelt contriteness? Using a flack doesn’t cut it. Show genuine remorse, otherwise it looks like a business decision by your advisors and not one iota of any understanding of the human condition. If that’s the case, I’d like to pitch you a script about JFK and his colitis. Lots of opportunity for juvenile bathroom “humor” there.

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Paris eco delegates prefer windmill-powered airplanes

My brother, Ryan, bleeds Liberal.

His friend, Peter, is further to the left.

We’ve had an ongoing email exchange.

Peter mentioned the Davos conference where apparently quail was on the menu — and explains the 1st line.

Below is my latest volley.

Why wail about Davos cooked quail?

Despite the multitudes, the Paris tete-a-tete is bound to fail.

Because Paris was all selfies and sunny skies

Lots and lots of green-colored lies

That produced organic crap that nurtured pompous gadflies.

Then, claiming to have made eco gains

They hopped onto a windmill-powered plane

With the goal next year

Of Tahiti, and more of the same.

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Canucks tarnish reputation by honouring Bertuzzi

So, according to the story and photo in the Edmonton Journal [Dec. 7, 2015] , Todd Bertuzzi can now smile after his cowardly, unprovoked and monstrous destruction of the much smaller Steve Moore. Apologies come immediately, not many weeks later as Bertuzzi’s  “apology” did. Which raised the question: Were his tears and words motivated by litigation or true remorse?

That the Vancouver Canucks would now “honor” him on December 7– the day of the bombing of Pearl Harbour — is disgraceful, appalling and despicable; and it speaks to the culture of the hockey organization. The buck stops at the desk of Trevor Linden, whom I used to admire as an outstanding player and role model. President Roosevelt declared that the attack on Pearl Harbour was “a day that will live in infamy.” So , too, will Bertuzzi’s attack on Moore.

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Private sector a leader in wellness and disease prevention

In the mid-1980s, I had an opportunity to spend several hours with the director of medical services and his team of a major, well-known Canadian corporation. What quickly became apparent is “medical services” was a misnomer. Yes, they dealt with minor injuries and triaged major ones, but it was a minor part of their work.

Their real focus was the health of the employees, and their approach was innovative. For example, reviewing absenteeism the Monday after payday to see if there were behaviors at play such as possible substance abuse.

If a red flag popped up, the medical services team, which was mostly nurses, would follow up with the employee to determine the actual situation and if the company’s programs and services could be helpful. The approach was supportive – for the employee and for her or his family – and built around wellness and disease prevention.

Today that pioneering effort has become a staple of the human resource [HR] philosophies of many employers. Yes, there are economic incentives and benefits for the employer. More importantly, however, is the reward from simply doing to the right thing!

No wonder, therefore, that employee assistance programs [EAPs] have become a staple of privately funded and privately delivered health care for which unions bargain to have available for their members. Non-unionized employers also offer EAPs.

Other top-of-the-list health care benefits for both unionized and non-unionized employees include financial assistance in purchasing prescription drugs, dental plans, and services from health care provides such as chiropractors, psychologists and physiotherapists. All these are privately funded and privately delivered.

A more recent development has been the emergence of clinics whose focus is on wellness and disease prevention, and whose clients pay an annual fee. The clinics also have physicians on staff who bill Alberta Health for medical services covered by Medicare.

Employers support these clinics because of the alignment with employee wellness and disease prevention and the synergy with employee assistance programs.

These types of privately funded and privately delivered health-care services make up part of the 30 cents of every $1 that Canadians personally spend on health care every year. Significantly, provincial governments [Liberal, NDP, PC], which are responsible for Medicare, have shied away from moving into these areas.

And, it’s no wonder! They can’t even meet the promise of Medicare today: timely access to quality, publicly funded health care. Spending on Medicare in Alberta is now 50 cents of every taxpayer $1 and, at its current pace of inflation, this will torpedo Alberta’s budget by 70 cents of every $1 in just three more decades.

 

– Ronald Kustra

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Op ed in Edmonton Journal on reputation & politics January 5

 

Opinion: Reputation is paramount to voters

Electorate gets the final say on Wildrose Nine

Opinion: Reputation is paramount to voters

Former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith and eight other party MLAs crossed the floor last month to join Premier Jim Prentice and the ruling Progressive Conservatives.

Photograph by: JASON FRANSON , THE CANADIAN PRESS

Just days before Christmas, two stalwarts of Alberta conservative politics, former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith and Reform party founder Preston Manning, each had their reputational stockings filled with lumps of coal — Smith for leading eight other Wildrose MLAs across the floor of the Alberta Legislative Assembly to shore up the under-new-management PC government of Premier Jim Prentice, and Manning for counselling this behaviour, although he has since penned a mea culpa for his involvement.

The politics — past, present, future — of this historic event will continue to be dissected by commentators and politicos. Of more significance, however, is the impact on the reputations of all those involved, including Prentice, in both the short term (before the next provincial election) and the long (the history books).

“A good reputation is more important than money,” Publilius Syrus observed in 1st century BC.

Twenty centuries later, just two days after the Wildrose MLAs swelled the PC majority to 72 seats out of 87, American business icon Warren Buffett sent a memo to his top Berkshire Hathaway Managers. “As I’ve said in these memos for more than 25 years: ‘We can afford to lose money — even a lot of money. But we can’t afford to lose reputation — even a shred of reputation,’” he wrote.

Buffet delivered a similar message in 1991 when he stepped in as chair of the floundering Salomon Brothers. Appearing before Congress, he told legislators that his message was: “Lose money for the firm, and I will be understanding. Lose a shred of reputation for the firm, and I will be ruthless.”

As an aside, in 2014 Industry Canada approved the $3.2-billion sale of Altalink to Berkshire Hathaway, subject to certain conditions on the maintenance of jobs and management in Alberta.

If the value of reputation in business is return on investment and long-term viability and success, then the equivalency in politics is being elected and re-elected.

In his landmark 1996 book Reputation: Realizing Value from the Corporate Image, Charles J. Fombrun introduced the quantification of reputation. He went on to found the Reputation Institute, which assigns four attributes and seven dimensions to reputation. The four attributes are feelings, esteem, admiration and trust. All strongly resonate within the political arena, as shown by comments vented by Albertans in both the traditional and social media about the events of Dec. 17.

To varying degrees, and varying degrees of interpretation, the seven dimensions of corporate reputation apply to politics.

Products and services: Offers high quality and value for money, stands behind products, meets customer needs.

Innovation: Innovative, adapts quickly, first to market.

Workplace: Offers equal opportunity, rewards employees fairly, considers employees’ well-being.

Governance: Fair in business, behaves ethically, is open and transparent.

Citizenship: Environmentally responsible, is a positive influence on society, supports good causes.

Leadership: Well organized, has an appealing leader, excellent managers and a clear vision for its future.

Financial: Profitable, has strong growth prospects, manages better results than expected.

In a brief time, Prentice has excised lesions from the image of the PC party, but he will have to await the next provincial election to see whether he has restored true lustre to the PC reputation or just applied a patina.

The province’s looming $6-billion or $7-billion deficit will no doubt underscore the relevance of reputational dimensions such as governance, leadership and financial aptitude.

Individual reputations are on the line: MLAs elected as PCs who accepted the Wildrose Nine — the equivalent of the starting lineup of a professional baseball team — into their caucus, MLAs elected as Wildrose and who crossed the floor to join the PCs, MLAs elected as PCs who crossed the floor to be Wildrose or independent and then re-crossed the floor to embrace the PCs, MLAs who were instrumental in orchestrating the Dec. 17 migration, MLAs who pretended it was business as usual in question period when they knew otherwise.

To be absolutely clear: a politician crossing the floor or choosing to sit as an independent may not qualify for sainthood, but has not committed a legal impropriety.

Professional sports understand the importance of reputation, corporate and personal, even if certain decisions by their leaders don’t always align with the four attributes and seven dimensions advanced by the Reputation Institute.

Major League Baseball, against the backdrop of the infamous Black Sox Scandal of the 1919 World Series, understood its reputation, and indeed its livelihood, were both at stake. It was the first to appoint an independent commissioner with enormous powers. Today, all major sports — basketball, football, golf, etc. — have commissioners.

Politics has often been referred to as a blood sport, though it has no commissioner to police its reputation. But politics does have an entity that is potentially much more powerful than a commissioner. It’s called the electorate.

Either this spring, as rumoured, or by spring 2016, the voters of Alberta will pass judgment on the reputations of the current MLAs, the reputations of candidates in the next provincial election, and the reputations of the political parties under whose banners most candidates run.

Feelings, esteem, admiration and trust will easily trump promises and more promises, policies and denials.

Consultant Ronald Kustra has more than 30 years’ experience in public affairs.

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