As of this moment 544 people have liked our Facebook page to show their support of the Island families with children whose physical therapy needs are lacking in this province. It has touched my heart that so many of you are ready to rally to this cause and let our government know that PEI should have the same level of healthcare as every other province in Canada, starting with those children who have been neglected for decades. Over 220 emails have been sent through HelpPEI.com. We have the support of teachers, businesses, healthcare providers, physiotherapists, mothers, fathers and friends.
I recall as a child at Queen Elizabeth Elementary School, that the 2 children in wheelchairs were in a separate office with a window that we passed on the way to the gym or to music class. No wonder we've allowed government to push aside their needs for 30 years. We've been pushing their needs aside for as long as my memories go back. Why weren't those children integrated into the classroom with everyone else? Why weren't they involved in music class or gym class with us? Listening to music, lying on a mat, feeling gravity, sensing movement, that would have been the best approach. Instead they were isolated and weren't given the opportunity to become the same as every other kid.
I have heard stories in the media lately about families with special needs children moving away to get the level of care they deserve. It breaks my heart. I feel happy for them and support them for making a stand and creating awareness about what's happening to them through the media, but saddened that they had to leave their home and their extended family behind to get the proper care for their children.
This is likely why I feel so strongly about making a change here. The reaction since my open letter has been positive. Olive Crane has brought this issue up at the Standing Committee on Health, Social Development and Seniors just yesterday, and they've all agreed this needs to be looked into further. I have spoken to James Alyward, MLA for Stratford and he has committed to supporting this. I have even been forwarded emails from MP, Sean Casey who is showing his support by urging the federal government for increased Canada Health Transfer payments to the province. Jeff has met with Mike Redmond, Leader of the NDP, today and he's also in support of the campaign. These are the first politicians auditioning for the hero role. Thank you for not just listening, but acting.
Everything you are doing to support this campaign is helping. Asking for more money is one way to find a solution. Another way is to better manage the money we already have. We could take a good look at our resources and see where there is excess spending. To cut that excess and move it over to areas that will make the greatest impact on our lives.
The problem I see with the Provincial Government presently is that they are pulled in every direction to support every cause without clear priorities in mind. They can get behind investing $140,000 to revitalize bingo in PEI because someone approached them and said look, if our profits go down, so does your income and donations for charity that comes from this bingo revenue. Yes I get it, but it shows how broken our system is when decisions like this can be made, without prioritizing all the other expenses and need in the province. To put money into a dying pass time seems wasteful. I'm the target demographic they want to attract, and I can tell you I've never gone to bingo after the age of 7 (and I was dragged there by my aunts at the time). I don't know any 40 year olds who gamble at bingo.
No one seems to be managing the entire system as a whole, as every department is disconnected from the rest. We have seen this even inside the QEH. Our paediatrician is only aware of the lack of services in the children's physical department as we've gone to her for more support. The nurse who sees our daughter in Paediatrics had no idea it was that bad. Proper management is lacking as there's no communication between departments as to needs that are going unmet. The workers on the front lines say their hands are tied, even when they know of the issues, what can they do. That is why they need our support.
The government can spend up to $600,000 for hills in Borden, without consequence as the transportation budget is separate from the healthcare budget. God knows what the maintenance cost on those hills are, likely upwards of 25k a year, based on this government position alone, just to cut the grass twice a week to make them look good. This excessive spending and waste in our province has to stop. If it doesn't it starts to look really bad. The public perception of our leaders goes downhill. I'm not saying anything radical here, this is not what everyone I've spoken to has not already said or agreed with.
Government, start speaking more to regular taxpayers and families in this country. They will tell you that because they pay "tax on tax on tax" on their gas and HST on more items than they were taxed before there isn't an extra $50 bucks in the family budget to blow on bingo. They will tell you that they believe in paying taxes when the money is well spent and they can afford for their families to thrive with good nutrition, a warm shelter over their heads, good roads to travel on, and good healthcare for themselves AND their children. This has nothing to do with political stripe but everything to do with basic human needs and rights. Let's move from lazy approaches of "that's just how it's done around here" and "you can't expect it to change overnight" to "I can make a real difference in peoples lives, that's why I got into politics in the first place."
Jeff and I have started all of this by investing $20 for a domain and reaching out to the community for support. That's it. You don't need to have a pile of money to force change. You just have to have the right principles which will motivate and drive you.
The reason I speak of all of these bad spending decisions is that this issue with the children's physical medicine department could be fixed in a day by hiring 2 more therapists to meet the demand. This might not be all that's needed but it would be a solution to directly increase the amount of therapy that's available.
This is my blog, this is all my opinion. I've been ranting for over a dozen years. I don't expect to change things all by myself, but I hope to get more dialogue started and light some fires within others to help others who really need the help. Starting this cause is how Jeff and I can go to sleep every night and live with ourselves, instead of putting up and doing nothing.
You want to help? Visit Help PEI to show your support for more Early Child Physical Medicine services at QEH and send a clear message to our leaders that they need to put their priorities in order and start looking at things from a broader perspective. You can read my Open Letter to the Government of PEI and Health PEI here.
Open Letter to the Government of PEI and Health PEI
2/11/2014 1:21:00 PM
Currently the Queen Elizabeth Hospital has very few resources in the Early Child Physical Medicine department. The special needs children that rely on these services require more physiotherapy and occupational therapy than the province of PEI has been providing, for decades now.
Jeff and I have decided, as a family, to create awareness of this issue not for our own gain but for the hundreds of children who live in PEI who have Cerebral Palsy or struggle with physical challenges or developmental delays.
I started to write during my lunch and this letter got long. It's everything an interview on television doesn't reveal. It's valuable information into a system that's broken, and a chance for real positive change if someone steps up and gives us a hand.
The response and solution from Health PEI is to hire a part time physiotherapist for 3 days a week, and a full time coordinator to determine the needs.
Now children in PEI can get 1.5 (better coordinated) Physio appointments a month instead of 1!
It's a shame their solution is to hire a coordinator to sit at a desk all day and determine the needs instead of hiring another full time physiotherapist who could take 1/2 the case load from the existing physiotherapist.
This is how the PEI government wastes tax payers dollars.
If they spent an hour with the existing physiotherapist they would get all the "coordination" information they need. She can only schedule 1 appointment a month for over 100 kids who need 4 times that amount of therapy.
What a waste of money! Health PEI is overstaffed with administrators and under staffed with actual healthcare providers.
What happens to this coordinator once they determine the needs, are they going to let her go to free up a salary to hire a physiotherapist? More likely, put it off a year or two until the next budget is in place. Meanwhile 0-5 year olds in the province who have Cerebral Palsy or are struggling with other physical challenges need help now, while they are young and at a crucial stage of development.
This is so wrong. I don't know how these people can call themselves leaders. I challenge them to do the right thing and bring a real solution to the table.
Some children between the ages of 0-5 in the province of PEI with complex needs get one appointment with a physiotherapist a month. An adult can fall and injure themselves and get better care, physiotherapy twice a week, than a child who hasn't learned to walk yet. This is wrong. The PEI government hasn't increased the budget to the physical medicine department for children since the 1980s.
Anything that could be used in the future was saved and stockpiled, but anything that no longer served a purpose was taken to the local dump.
My mother was somewhat of a minimalist. She didn't need many things, pretty much the essentials kept her happy. We didn't have a number of cake mixers or cooking utensils. She had a small collection of yarn but mostly if any new stuff was purchased to knit something, it was used and turned into mittens, hats, scarves or sweaters. There wasn't an over abundance of photos or much of anything. Just small manageable collections of photos within a few albums and perhaps the odd shoe box full.
They didn't throw much out, but I realize they didn't go shopping all the time for stuff either. My parents loved their Sunday drives, but it wasn't to go to a mall and buy things. It was to drive around the country side and perhaps stop for an ice cream or wash the car.
I suppose I had my share of toys growing up, but some of my favourites were simple things like a chalkboard, or books or books with records! I've read recently that kids who have too many toys are prevented from developing their gift of imagination. During an experiment in kindergarten classrooms, two German public health workers (Strick and Schubert) removed all of the toys for three months. Of course boredom first set in, then the kids began to use their basic surroundings to invent games and use imagination in their playtime.
There is also the notion of too many toys causing children to develop short attention spans. I've witnessed this with my own daughter when she visits a house with a lot of toys. She goes from one to the next barely pausing to play with any of them.
Before xmas this year, I took most of the toys Vaeda was playing with and put them into her toybox. The amount she got this year as gifts filled the play space in our living room. I could remove every toy she had ever received to that point and she would still have lots to play with. It's a constant juggling act. I'm hoping I can teach her to not become attached to any of her toys and belongings. That she can donate them and send them to someone who would play with them more because perhaps they have less.
As a child this meant rearranging my room twice a year to maximize my play area and change my perspective. I was a natural neat freak without my parents ever once telling me to clean my room. I had a small amount of toys and took good care of them. I still have the box to my Simon.
My cousin on the other hand, was inundated with toys every Christmas and birthday. Her mother spent weekends "shopping". She could spot a bargain and her house was filled with stuff. I recall that she had unopened gifts in her room, for those times that a gift was needed on short notice. The attic was filled with every stitch of clothing the family of 5 EVER wore. My cousins bedroom had a full kitchen cupboard shelving added across a full wall to hold all of the puzzles, toys, smurfs and play doh.
Once a month my cousin would be prisoner of her own room while she was tasked with cleaning and organizing the onslaught of things. It was punishment. I would park my bike outside her bedroom window and look in on the prisoner who had no clue about organization as she was overwhelmed with a mountainous pile of toys. I would always feel sorry for her. I had my freedom and would never serve a sentence like that for two reasons. 1. My parents only bought a small amount of toys twice a year for me, instead of every weekend. 2. I learned the skill of organization and imagination as I was quite content with the amount of toys I had. My bicycle was one of my most coveted possessions, and I'd rather be riding it down at the wharf with my cousin(s) instead of hanging outside her window waiting for her sentence to be served.
One's upbringing prepares and influences how you live out your life. Each time in the past I've been debt free and prepared with only the essentials I need in life I've felt ready for an adventure.
The sad part about learning is that you often need to experience both sides before you actually know what you want. Those years of absolute freedom had me longing for roots and a house to call my own.
I went to the other extreme and bought a house in the burbs and filled it with stuff. All the stuff everyone else in the neighbourhood had. It left me feeling like I was still longing for more. There's no end to that road, you need more landscaping, you want a better car, you re-decorate… That's the cleverest thing ever invented by marketers…re-decorate. A way to spend money every year buying new curtains, rugs, furnishings and paint to have a whole new look. The whole experience had me longing for freedom, from debt. Having a family was an honest true desire, but having to work all the time to never really enjoy the company of my family wasn't. On the flip side what I was longing for was a small home and time with my family.
Every year or so I need to remind myself of my true path. I reflect on what created my thoughts and habits. I'm easily swayed every Christmas to spend spend spend. No one remembers much about the gifts from each passing year as they do the dinners with family and the time spent playing with the kids. I'm also easily swayed into making the new place a re-creation of the old one complete with landscaping, and decks. Snowblowers, lawn-mowers, sheds….the list goes on.
The benefit of living in a small space and hating clutter is that you have to continuously prune your things to let go of things that are no longer needed. I have a shed right now that's bursting for a yard sale or a few dozen kijiji ads. The end result of buying more things is the time that is wasted trying to get rid of them. A perfect example of your stuff owning you instead of the other way around. This is likely why I have put off selling a bunch of items since our move in July. I've been spending my time with family, learning new things and enjoying every minute instead.
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