‘Pure manure’

Readers/Letters to Lawrence Solomon
National Post
May 1, 2002

Re: Bad Rural Medicine, April 25, 2002

The following are Letters to the Editor in response to Urban Renaissance Institute‘s Lawrence Solomon‘s article, “Bad Rural Medicine,” published on April 25, 2002, in the National Post.

To read the article, click here.

I agree with Lawrence Solomon on one point – we should not have to convince people to become doctors. However, the rest of his argument is, if you’ll pardon the expression, pure manure.

Does Mr. Solomon survive from the food grown in his apartment window boxes? He would have rural residents move to the cities. Ridiculous. Of course rural residents deserve the same medical care that is provided in urban areas. Yes, Mr. Solomon, there is a population outside of Toronto.

But Mr. Solomon’s column contains another dangerous precedent. There is no credibility in an argument that has no accreditation for its statistics. I have lived and worked in various parts of Ontario, including rural areas, and I have yet to have any government agency give me a handout because of it. Oh, wait a minute. I did get a free licence sticker when I lived in Mike Harris’s hometown, North Bay. But that is an urban area. On the whole, unaccredited number games are dangerous to the user.

The other huge problem with Mr. Solomon’s argument is that there is a severe doctor shortage in Ontario just outside of greater Toronto.

I live in an urban area, and we do not have a GP available to us. In cities in the Niagara peninsula, health care is only available to many residents through emergency rooms or walk-in clinics. We are actively recruiting doctors, since there are long waiting lists for every doctor in the Niagara Region.

The real issue in this province is not the lack of doctors – it’s tunnel vision. We don’t need more doctors. We need nurses who are trained to diagnose, prescribe and attend to common ailments, thereby leaving the doctors to take care of the serious cases they are supposed to handle. Nurse practitioners for every community – rural or urban – is the order of the day.

Why is it that we North Americans run to the “doctor” for every runny nose or fever? Because of our own arrogance and self-importance, of course. But also because of subtle negative marketing. We have all been led to believe by arrogant medical associations that doctors are the only ones who could possibly solve our every problem. If you’ll pardon another rural expression – that’s utter hogwash.

It’s time to stop propagating this nonsense and have some real common sense leadership in government and in the medical profession.

Do us all a favour, Mr. Solomon. Help convince Torontonians to stand up for increased nurse-practitioner training programs in your urban area – and start justifying the nurse practitioners that already exist. Think-tanks should be about new visions – not recycling the same old ones.

Laura Salverda
Welland, Ont.

I have lived in two rural areas in eastern Ontario and it was IMPOSSIBLE to get a family doctor, or for that matter switch doctors. Subsidies may not be the way, but to say that there is not a lack of doctors in rural Ontario, especially small towns and cities, is ridiculous. I have had no problem getting a doctor or specialist in Toronto.

Dan MacFadyen

Mr. Solomon suggests “. . . the cause stems not from two few rural physicians but too many rural residents.

Mr. Solomon should take a hike – from Torbay to Victoria – and discover that there’s more to Canada than the few square miles of concrete and asphalt that has embalmed western Lake Ontario.

In our area, the exodus of retired people is from the cities, not into them.

H.E. King
Belleville, Ont.

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