Archive | August 2012

Just Bitchin’ – Cost Effective Health Care

When I think of the term “cost effective health care”  until now, at any rate, I would have described it as the most cost effective way to provide the best health care possible.  NOT TRUE……at least not true in Ontario.

An article in today’s Ottawa Sun blew me away when I read that a drug is considered “not cost effective” if it prolongs life and will therefore result in a further burden on the health care system down the road.  CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?

The case in question is a local gentleman with prostate cancer.  His oncologist determined he could benefit enormously from a new drug called Zytiga – perhaps even double his life expectancy.  The drug has been approved by Health Canada and is funded by 8 Canadian provinces under their health plans.  Ontario, though, will not fund it.  The Health Minister’s office bluntly stated that the drug is not cost-effective.  While acknowledging its benefits, the message was that the drug is so effective in prolonging life, men will survive longer with prostate cancer, and will therefore cost the health care system more money.

Chemo is funded – requiring hospital time, nursing time, blood work and more.  Zytiga is a once-a-day pill with relatively few side effects….no hospital time, no chemo, no nursing time, no blood work.   But  here’s the glitch:  Because it is so well tolerated, it can be given to a much larger population – thus the province’s position…….more men will live longer than those given alternative treatments such as chemotherapy and this will, therefore, cost the health care system more money.

Somehow I find this thinking on the part of the Committee to Evaluate Drugs TWISTED.  A third of my tax dollars are going to a health care system that really doesn’t want me to live as full a life as possible!!!  How bizarre is that?  What do you think?


Just Bitchin’ – Dream List

Have you ever thought about what you would do if you won a sizeable chunk of cash?…..not one of those gazillion million dollar lotteries – but something in the, say, $250,000 range?  I doodle these “wish lists” often – maybe dreaming about things will help them to happen!!!

Given the state of our lawns this summer, one of my dream items keeps rising to the top of my wish list.  SYNLAWN!!  Take a peek at their website ( .  Artificial grass has come a long way, Baby!  Imagine never having to water your lawn again other than to dust it off/hose it down twice a year.  Imagine never having to worry about grub or cinch bug infestations.  Imagine no need to mow…..or weed…..or topdress……or any of that stuff.  I haven’t fully investigated the cost of this stuff – but it appears to be in the $15-$20 per square foot range, installed.  No wonder it’s on the dream list!  I tell my neighbours that we would all have Synlawn if I won a really big lottery!

Here’s another “given the state of item”……my walls – construction grade paint on all of them – you know the kind – you wipe it ever-so-gently and it still leaves a shiny mark that is there for good – so a complete paint job, including ceilings (which I don’t think have ever had paint on them) is also on my list!  I figure that is likely to cost in the neighbourhood of $6,500 or maybe more.  Everything goes up except for my pension!!  I know this item will eventually move from the wish list to the “must do” list but I’ve been holding it at bay in order to squeeze in some travel.

Speaking of travel – there will always be at least one or six major trips on the wish list……Hawaii/Tahiti, The Baltic, any part of Italy, Newfoundland and a plethora of  river cruises in no particular order of priority other than I had better do them while I am still physically able!!  The Far East and/or Africa would be lovely but I’m not sure I would survive the lengthy plane trips.  Our group of 8 ladies had such a wonderful time last fall on The Legendary Danube with AMA Waterways.  We all decided that river cruises offered a very special cruise environment and one we all thoroughly enjoyed.  A related wish is that my wonderful cat-sitter continues to be available to look after my feline family to allow me to travel without worrying about them!  A direct flight between Ottawa and Orlando (my eldest nephew and his family have just moved there) would also be fantastic!!

More for the house – anyone who owns property knows that this list never gets smaller…….hardwood floors for the bedrooms on the main level to replace the already cat-worn carpets……maybe even some sort of warm-on-the-feet and easy-to-clean flooring for the lower level, quartz counters for the kitchen (should have done that when I bought the house but the upgrades just seemed to pile up so quickly)……..a BIG-screen TV for the rec room to watch Senators’  hockey games on…..a 3-season porch like I had in my last house, light fixtures to replace the Tamarack (or should I say Tackyack) ones…..comfortable dining room chairs so dinner guests don’t start to squirm before dessert is served….

And  for me…….a reserve fund for my next car so I won’t have to manage a car loan and payment……an IPad – maybe even an IPhone.  I could really push the envelope and wish for enough “extra” income to allow me to really retire!!  Be still my heart!  That won’t happen without one of those much larger lottery wins – so I won’t get greedy.

One more thing – a little something for family so that they can each enjoy a treat that has been on their dream list.

All gone.  That was too easy!  I’m off to buy a lottery ticket.   Wish me luck!




Just Bitchin’ – NHL Negotiations…..Lockout Looming?

I’m having a difficult time with this one.

For those who haven’t been following the story, the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the NHL and the Players’ Association expires September 15th.  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has stated that the players will be locked out (not allowed to play) if an agreement isn’t negotiated and signed prior to the old one running out.

Players are being asked to take a reduction in salary (among other things) with the monies gathered by doing this used to spread the wealth among the weaker financial teams.  It appears that the players are interested in the idea of stronger financial teams aiding weaker ones, but expect the owners to pay for it.  The franchise owners want the players to foot the bill.

I’m sure I have made this sound uncomplicated –  there are other issues on the table that I won’t even pretend to understand – so I am sticking to the one I do get….. not that it matters a whole lot given what I’m about to offer up next.

My question is this:  If a franchise can’t make a go of it, it generally means that there isn’t a large enough audience both interested in going to hockey games and willing to pay high ticket prices to do so.  Why on earth are there hockey clubs in these cities in the first place?  Who made what should have been a “sound business decision” when an NHL franchise was awarded to these “weaker teams”??  Why should successful hockey teams be penalized?  Who decided there needed to be expansion, expansion and more expansion??  If weaker teams are “subsidized”  what will ensure those teams continue to make every effort to become independent of hockey welfare???

I could get into an entirely new theme if I started to chat about the ridiculous salaries some of the players earn – and/or the cost of attending a hockey game in a place like Toronto, New York or even Ottawa…..but I won’t go there today.

I believe the NHL and the Players’ Association owe it to hockey fans to find a way to reach agreement and avoid a lockout.  Why make a bad situation worse? How will a lockout help hockey??  The world is becoming a greedy place!

I’m sure my nephew, the ultimate hockey buff, will quickly correct any misunderstandings on my part – so watch for his comments!!

Just Bitchin’ – Time to Take a Stand on Bilingualism

Let me start by saying that I’m not against bilingualism per se and I think it is wonderful to be able to speak more than one language – whatever languages they might be.  I am, however,  getting more and more concerned about the cost.  Can we really afford this?

The recent report from the Fraser Institute states that the provinces spend more than $900-million PER YEAR offering services and education in both official languages and Ottawa spends an additional $1.5-billion PER YEAR offering federal services in french and english…….a total of $2.4-billion annually – and that doesn’t take into account the monies spent in a very large number of municipalities, businesses and organizations.

According to the latest (2006) census, only 300,000 people in Canada are minority language speakers who are unable to communicate in the language of the majority that surrounds them.  That is less than 1% of the population.

ONLY IN CANADA would this kind of money (our money, by the way) be spent on such a small group of people – and – what has it done for us?  Has it made the country “more unified”?  Is Quebec happy?  Are Albertans delighted to be spending this amount of effort and money to offer bilingual print-media and services in their province? Have a larger number of people become truly bilingual?  Apparently, after more than 40 years spent promoting official bilingualism, 97% of people in Ontario still work almost entirely in english (down from 98% 4 decades ago) and exactly the same percentage of Quebecers (23%) work daily in English as there was when the grand experiment began.

This takes me back to an earlier blog about the demise of Common Sense.  After all these years, and all this money, we are no more bilingual nor any more unified than we were when we began the bilingualism journey.  So – why continue??

It is time to take a look at priorities.  Would you rather bilingualism than good health care?  It may come down to just that!!

Just Bitchin’ – Yeahhhh – Cooler Weather

It may not last long – but this morning when I poked my head out the door to gather in the morning newspaper, it was COOL……actually COOL …..not just “not hot” – but COOL.  I quickly opened up both the front and back doors to let the balmy breezes blow through the house.  Gotta capture the “coolth” – it may be a one-time phenomenon given the track record of our summer weather this year.

I’m not one to jump on the global warming bandwagon just because we’ve had a one winter with relatively little snow and one long, hot, dry summer.  I think these things go in cycles.  Next winter we could be inundated with the white stuff and summer could be as wet as this one is dry.  Weather remains one of those mysteries that nobody seems to have figured out with any degree of accuracy.  The only sure way to know for sure what’s going on outside is to open the door and go out there!  It makes me wonder why we all religiously check the weather channel when it is wrong so often?

Oh well – what will be, will be.  For now, I will enjoy today.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring?


Just Bitchin’ – What to Blog About?

There are times when I sit with my morning coffee, reading the newspaper… and I have a significant reaction to something I’m reading.  More often than not, these reactions tend to lend themselves to “rants”.  Here are some examples:

I have trouble believing what I’m reading when I “hear” things like the current liberal proposal to put a 2-year freeze on teachers’ wages.  What in the heck do these folks think is going to happen at the end of year two?  Do you think teachers just might expect to “get caught up on missed increases”????????? DUHHHHH!  Bandaids, bandaids, and more bandaids!

….and why should teachers give up what they believe are their “rights” when federal public sector workers get PAID to retire!……they don’t just get a darned decent pension – they get “termination pay”…….FOR RETIRING!  As a former private sector worker, this just makes no sense at all – and it’s coming out of my pocket!!

I get upset when I read just about anything that comes out of our City Council (unless it comes from Allan Hubley – one sane voice among the bunch)……the “spin” is managed to an extent that it is laughable.  Susan Sherring should run for mayor in the next civic election!!

I get upset when the federal folks think it is just fine to provide EI payments to people who are working – do you suppose this could encourage folks to settle for part-time or ad-hoc work?  Maybe??  At the risk of upsetting a lot of people, I get upset at the idea that women on maternity leave can collect EI.  Isn’t it supposed to be applied to those “eligible for work”?  Why am I funding somebody’s choice to have a child?

I could be ranting about the very hot and very dry summer – the brown lawns, the potential impact on produce prices, etc – and I’m just as likely, 6 months from now, to be ranting about the very cold, snowy winter!

So – there is no end to the number of topics to rant about.

When it comes to the more positive stuff, human nature is such that we do tend to whine and complain more often than we compliment and rave about things.  It’s easier!  The negative stuff is in our face – in the newspapers, on TV and radio.

If, however,  I take the time to think about it – there are just as many things to rave about.

Turn on the TV and watch the excellent Olympic coverage.  What a celebration of mostly young athletes and their skills from all over the world! Finally – something that isn’t a typical reality show or cops and robbers, blood and guts.

Alfie is coming back!  I knew I was doing the right thing when I had Alfredsson and #11 put on my “vintage” style Ottawa Senators hockey jersey last year!  ….and there’s less than 2 months to go until hockey season starts up again!  Can’t wait!  This also means decent stuff to watch on television and the excitement of actually going to a game or two.

There is always another restaurant to be tested……trip to plan……bridge game to be played…..neighbourhood gathering to be enjoyed…..LIFE IS GOOD!

So – I rant…..or I rave……or I babble on about whatever turns my crank!!  It’s cathartic.  You should try it!