Friday, February 27, 2009

"Dawn till Dusk" Oswald in the dark about dusk till dawn emergency surgery cutbacks

I've listened once again to Theresa "Dawn till Dusk" Oswald's comments to CTV about the Concordia Emergency department sending a 38 year old woman suffering a ectopic (tubal) miscarriage 19KMs away to the Grace Hospital for surgery.

I still can't decifer what she was talking about- because it certainly wasn't the incident in question.

Tory press release:
“A dangerous practice that will end up killing patients”: Winnipeg physician

A Winnipeg doctor says Manitoba patients are at serious risk because of the NDP government’s decision to cut back emergency surgeries at three community hospitals.

The decision to cancel after hours emergency surgeries at Concordia, Victoria, and Seven Oaks hospitals was made public last year after an internal WRHA memo was leaked to Progressive Conservative Health Critic Myrna Driedger. Patients who require emergency surgery after-hours will have to be transported to the Health Sciences Centre, St. Boniface or Grace Hospital.

A physician, who fears job loss or other professional repercussions for speaking out, wrote to Driedger with serious concerns for patient care. Driedger spoke to one distressed and frightened patient who presented at Concordia Hospital’s emergency room with severe abdominal pain.

Physicians discovered that she had an ectopic pregnancy that was at imminent risk of rupture and required immediate surgery. However, because after hours emergency surgery was unavailable, the patient had to be transported across the city to Grace Hospital as both Health Sciences Centre and St. Boniface Hospital were already backed up with emergency surgeries. According to the physician, had the ectopic pregnancy ruptured en route, the patient would have died in less than five minutes.

Driedger said when physicians speak out about patient safety, the Minister of Health should sit up and take notice.

“Doctors are saying that is an unsafe practice,” said Driedger. “It looks as though the Minister of Health has made these cutbacks without assessing the very real risk to patients. If she’s looking to save money, she should cut back on the WRHA’s bloated bureaucracy, not front line patient care.”

Driedger added the Minister’s failure to announce these cutbacks publicly is another example of the NDP putting spin control ahead of patient care.

“The only reason Manitobans even know about these cutbacks is because one front line health care professional was brave enough to make an internal memo public,” she said. “It’s unfortunate the Minister of Health doesn’t think Manitoba patients deserve to know what’s happening under her watch.”

The Health Minister realized her previous policy of duck and hide was only going to land her in a parking lot ambush spitting out her gum on camera again, so she spoke about this case to CTV:

OSWALD: " The statement in the release that there are no emergency surgeries going on in our community hospitals is false, it's factually untrue, and doctors assure us that in those rare cases of general surgery where it isn't safe for patients to be moved, that arrangements have been made and are made, to ensure that a surgeon comes to them."

I have searched high and low and cannot find where the Tory release said a word about "no emergency surgeries". The problem is with after-hours - i.e. late-night - emergency surgery being cut. In that regard, what the Minister herself said was itself, "factually untrue".

And provided the proof:

Health Minister Theresa Oswald says the information is not accurate, saying that emergency surgeries have not been consolidated at the hospitals in question, that it was only the general surgeries that have been reduced after hours in three hospitals.

Oswald says the changes were made in conjunction and after consultation with doctors and surgeons.

This past summer the WRHA announced it would consolidate after-hours
emergency surgery, and say the move was made in part because of a shortage of surgeons...

Marilee Caruso ended the broadcast story by saying "acute surgeries are now only done at the HSC, ST B. Hospital, and the Grace Hospital."

Maybe this is a game of semantics. After all, this is the same teacher-turned politician who has redefined "transparency" and "courageous" to encompass the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority conduct in the Brian Sinclair emergency-room death and the after-market acceptance of brown envelopes from winning bidders.

It appears that in Oswald's world there are 3 kinds of surgeries - "general", "emergency" and "acute".

Acute means emergency, and general might also mean emergency if the surgery required is general and not acute. And after-hours means past dusk. By her statement, an ectopic miscarriage must be general and not an emergency.

Yet by any definition it is an emergency. An acute emergency. An after-hours acute emergency in this case.

Just not to Oswald.

Maybe she was expecting that no one would pay attention to her actual words; that all the media would do is run a sound-bite her claim the opposition doesn't know what they are talking about, and hope that all the public would remember was "she said there were still emergency general surgeries at the hospitals and Driedger got it wrong" (and forget about the after-hours part). Maybe, as one sceptical listener pointed out, Oswald knew exactly what she was doing, and what she said may all be true about general emergency surgeries and doctors coming to patients - - all true except, of course, for the part about the Tories being factually incorrect about what happened to the pregnant woman.

Which they weren't as we have a copy of the letter from the doctor.

As we pointed out yesterday, even if Oswald believes what she said, that emergency surgeries are still being done after-hours - does she really think a surgeon will magically show up at a hospital if/when a patient is too sick to be transported and start to operate on the patient WITHOUT AN ANAESTHETIST?

Oh ya, sedating the patient must be a minor detail in her world.
(Did someone say something about needing nurses to assist the surgeon?)

Under Oswald's watch, the WRHA has failed miserably at solving the problem of a shortage of surgeons, anaesthetists, and nurses. The cutbacks that risked a pregnant woman's life are the direct result of those failures.

This is the same leadership that, while a St Boniface Hospital therapy program that uses clowns to help sick kids ran out of funding, steadfastly refuses to reveal what the WRHA spent $2.2 Million in "undirected" brown envelope slush money on.

When that program gets cancelled, Oswald will once again say, oh no, the critics are all wrong, it wasn't government funded, etc..

And she'll be correct. There will still be plenty of clowns in the health care system. Transparent, courageous ones who work from dawn til dusk in service of the public. For the pregnant mothers, the kids, the indigent like Brian Sinclair... but we won't be laughing.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

MPI press release and email confirms purchase of Citiplace Mall; your reactions
Cityplace acquired by Manitoba Public Insurance
Manitoba Public Insurance has acquired Cityplace, the office and retail building that houses most of its administrative offices, while assuring ratepayers that the acquisition will contribute to stable operating costs and continued low Autopac rates.

“We have a responsibility to keep our operating costs low so we can continue to provide Manitobans with the best possible value from their public auto insurance system,” McLaren said. “Buying this building is the most cost-effective option.”

Manitoba Public Insurance has been facing difficult questions about where to locate its administrative offices in the years ahead. The acquisition will give Manitoba Public Insurance more control over its operating expenses, while allowing the corporation to avoid the disruption of relocating its administrative offices, extensive information technology facilities, a large call centre and several hundred employees.

The Crown corporation has acquired the building and surrounding parking lots from Huntingdon Real Estate Investment Trust for $81.5 million.

Most of the 10-storey building is made up of office space, with retail space on the first two floors. The corporation currently occupies about 80 per cent of the office space in the building. In addition to its administrative offices in Winnipeg, the corporation operates out of 20 claim centres and customer service facilities throughout Manitoba. Manitoba Public Insurance will take possession of the Cityplace property on May 1, 2009.


From: President's Mailbox
Sent: February 26, 2009
4:25 PM
To: *Cityplace
Subject: Announcing purchase of Cityplace

I’m pleased to announce that Manitoba Public Insurance has reached an agreement to purchase Cityplace, effective May 1, 2009. The purchase of this building will help us control operating costs and ensure that our administrative office needs are well-served long into the future.

This is an important and positive step for the corporation, but the transition will be seamless. We’ve been a major tenant here in Cityplace since 1980. In fact, it’s been our home for so long that many people assume we already own the building. As we move from the role of tenant to owner, it will be “business as usual” for our employees and customers, and for other businesses in this building. Redcliff Realty will continue to act as property manager, and Impark will continue to run the parking facilities.

The most significant change is that our long-term operating costs will be more stable and predictable. We’ll also have more control over the use of the facility. As some of you know, we were not happy to lose access to the basement earlier this year, and it has sometimes been difficult to acquire more space in the building. Those challenges are now behind us.

You can read more about the purchase agreement on the Intranet. I look forward to sharing more information about our plans in the months ahead.

President and Chief Executive Officer

Immediate listener reaction:

"Gotta love MPI. I'm forced to get an Immobilizer and then my rates go UP on my "unstealable" car. I'd be all in favour of seeing MPI completely revamped. Very tired of seeing them strongarm Manitobans."

" Its funny how I pay more for insuring my vehicle with 600,000 kms worth $1000 than my $300,000 home yet mpi can start buying up real estate. Who do you think is paying for that? Hmmmmm"

"I can relate with that other listener, I paid $1100 to insure my 2 door Korean hatchback when it was 5 years old. It's now 9 years old and I'm paying $1250 and have two merits. What gives?"

"Holy f. 81 million dollars?!?! I had to let that sink in for a few minutes. I think I'll be sending my quarterly insurance payments to Mr Smiley for reimbursement. "

Monday, February 23, 2009

Your 3 day TGCTS forecast: A Lesson in Journalism, police, school taxes and more Disraeli debate

Monday: It's been awhile, but an opportunity for a Lesson in Journalism was presented by the Saturday Free Press. It wasn't all bad- but the sum of the parts is far from good. From goofy editing to slanted columnists to compartmentalization of story coverage to lazy reporting- it was all there, and today we'll have the analysis.

As well, one of the not-bad things - a story about the Winnipeg Police Association waking up Coun. Gord Steeves at a Winnipeg Police Advisory Board meeting last week about gangs violence not being reflected on Crimestat - will be delved into further when WPA president Mike Sutherland joins the show at 4.35.

We'll also find time to discuss 311 horrors, pundits dispute the Waverly West coverage in the Free Press, the Sun gets some defensive spin from the WRHA and Health Minister Oswald, and give away tickets to a Siloam Mission fundraiser at Dylan's on Pembina that takes place Wednesday and Thursday nights this week.

In sports at 5.15 PM, Frank the Italian Barber and I will ask why the New York Rangers showed coach Tom Renney the door when he is 40 games over .500 in his stint behind the bench; more about the Verne Gagne elderly care-facility incident (a 97 year old man who was attacked by Gagne died 20 days after his leg was broken) and Eric Bischoff is blaming the State of Minnesota for Gagne even being there; and Frank will chime in about the Blue Bomber roster overhaul.

Tuesday: Hot off the heels of the Winnipeg School Board public meeting tonight about your school taxes going up, candidate in the March 17 by-election Colin Fast, will tell us his views on how the WSD ought to conduct the people's business.

Wednesday: Kelly Dehn of CTV will give his weekly Crimewatch report; and the Phil Walding proposal that we published about Disraeli and area traffic reconstruction was certainly a hot topic with Mayor Katz last Thursday , and Regan Wolfrom will bring his own plan forward on the show at 4.40 PM as he seeks to take the Elmwood seat for the Liberals in the provincial by-election;

* To hear our hour-long discussion with Mayor Sam Katz about what really went on in court between the Crocus Fund receiver and the Winnipeg Goldeyes, the rocky start to the 311 service, Disraeli/Lousie Bridge planning, the unheard concerns of residents of Waverly West and Young Street, the Winnipeg Convention Centre and mixed martial arts events, and new information about Porkgate, you can find the link to stream or download at

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Phil Walding's sensible Disraeli/Louise Bridge reconstruction plan, plus mailbag and YouTube selections

Everyone agrees that the current working plan to rebuild the roads in and out of Elmwood are unworkable - except the city transportation, engineering, and planning experts.

They insist only a 16 month closedown of the Disraeli Freeway and a traffic re-routing that will lead to intractable gridlock in downtown, North and South Point Douglas, and the North End is workable; have they learned NOTHING from the Nairn Overpass fiasco?

Phil Walding has over 20 years experience in the local transportation business and is a longtime resident of Elmwood. Over the course of a few weeks, he developed the following alternative plan which has been given to both Councillor Jeff Browaty and Mayor Katz for their review.

Now he has given us permission to post it for the public to evaluate and compare against a city plan which Katz and Browaty concede will paralyze an already-distressed neighborhood and send property values plummeting even further.

Phase 1

1. Acquire the vacant lot and adjacent building at 310 Nairn Ave.

2. Acquire the land on the southeast side of Higgins currently used as a boatlaunch and park (moving the boat launch east of the current location) and incorporating it into a park along with the land currently occupied by Gateway Industries, with access off Pt. Douglas Rd.

3. Build a new 4 lane bridge on the east side of the existing Louise Bridge.

4. Re-align Higgins to meet the new bridge from the underpass (CPR Keewatin line).

5. Open the new Louise Bridge.

Note: The location of the new Louise bridge does not render the commercial buildings along the 300 block of Nairn unusable as would occur under the proposed Higgins Ave. to Gateway Rd. extension plan.

Phase 2

1. Erect traffic barriers between the approach to the new bridge and the existing approach to the old bridge at Sutherland Ave. and Higgins.

2. Remove centre median and re-configure Sutherland at Main St. to into a T- intersection, allowing south access from Sutherland onto Main, and add a turn-only lane from Main onto Sutherland going east, while maintaining existing north-south traffic flow.
3. Restrict access from Euclid St. onto Sutherland, creating detour access from Barber to Angus along Rover Ave.

4. Remove right turn only restriction at Sutherland and Higgins.

5. Remove centre median at the north foot of the Disraeli Bridge.

6. Reroute Disraeli traffic via Main-Sutherland-Higgins over the old Louise Bridge, to midwinter and onto Henderson going north (reversed for south).

Phase 3

1. Close and repair the Disraeli Bridge.
2. During construction, a temporary road may be built from Midwinter onto Henderson instead of using the underpass, depending on reconstruction needs.
3. Open the new Disraeli Bridge.

Phase 4

1. Create a transit corridor from Gateway Rd. to Chalmers thru Levis and Stadacona onto the new Louise Bridge, with a 4 lane shared use section in front of Elmwood Junior High extending from Raleigh St. to Watt St and with rt. turn only access from Watt going west.

2. Erect a traffic light at Talbot Ave. and Gateway to allow non-transit traffic diverted from Chalmers Ave. easier access to exit Gateway onto Talbot east and west.

3. Turn the old Louise Bridge into a pedestrian-and-bike use only structure.

4. Return Sutherland to its original configuration.

5. Unrestrict access from Euclid onto Sutherland.

6. Return Sutherland at Higgins to right turn only merging onto Higgins and pemananently eliminating the left turn from the Louise Bridge onto Sutherland, using the current Bridge configuration for bicycle and pedestrian traffic instead.

Note: Walding estimates his plan, which will keep more traffic flowing throughout the reconstruction process, will save the city $40 Million.


Thursday at 4 PM, Mayor Sam Katz joins us in-studio for an hour.

Among the topics we intend to cover include
- the dispute over provincial funding and the future of the property tax freeze,
- documented failures of the new 311 system,
- road and development planning ( Route 90, Waverly West, and the Disraeli alternative outlined above),
- the Jenny Gerbasi- led ethics reform vote,
- the secrecy of the Winnipeg Convention Centre,
- and yes, Porkgate.


Email from listeners:

WRHA/Brian Sinclair cover-up
Hi Marty,

To hear you today indicate the Mr. Postl didn`t share the details of a video footage from both the Minister of Health, and Dr. Brock Wright because of potential tampering of evidence is irresponsible on his part. Seems we continue to have a problem with responsibility of management in the Manitoba public sector that just cannot compare to the private sector. Case in point:

1) If Mr. Postl is the man in charge, has the responsibility to act as the liaison between his department and the public who rely on his guidance to protect them from malpractice, mistreatment, or potentially their own death under the care of his operations......then when something does happen, he should be the first man to rally the troops, assess the situation and delegate responsibilities and responses to address the concerns of the public who affect his livelihood.

2) If the public were to be questioning others within his department, then they SHOULD have a story (abet a company line story) to adhere to before addressing the media.

3) If you have evidence that must remain confidential under would pass along a press release to have everyone understand what actions are underway, what is being reviewed, and a projected date of a response to address their concerns.

Because you takes a `Greater than Thou` approach to your position, would indicate that you are quite happy if anyone other than yourself takes the rap for any irresponsible acts within your control (sounds like he`s qualified to be an NHL General Manager, or bidding for Gary Betman`s job).

In the Private sector...Maple Leaf is labeled to potentially tainted meat. THey immediately pull the products in question off the market, investigate their operations, uncover the source, and the President of the company has enough sense to address it publically through VARIOUS media to take responsibility, provide a vision of what actions he has taken to regain credibility and address any customer concerns.

I believe it is time for action Dr. Postl, or are you just not responsible enough to handle your job.....



some call it the echo chamber:

Do you think the real reason doer went out of his way to get blakie back is because he realized that the parties golden child future leader Teresa oswald is incompetant?

lest we forget the WRHA brown envelope scandal:

I read the article. Disgusting and unethical. Wouldn't it be nice if Postl really got raked for this and was forced to resign? Sole authority to access and authorize funds, indeed!...
(days later we got this)
Dr. Postl's letter to the Free Press is the work of a skilled politician, but doesn't alter the fact that the WRHA policy is probably unethical. I particularly object to Dr. Postl's efforts to deflect scrutiny away from the WRHA by bringing up their policy vis-a-vis individual physicians' and their relationships to vendors.
(signed) Dr. "X"

and as for the WRHA #2 man, Dr. Brock Wright getting a special posting to the University of Manitoba:

I don't know how this is going to shake down in the long term. The move is being touted as being good for recruiting. Perhaps it will be, for those few physicians who derive all or a good portion of their income from the university. What is not clear is how the move will ultimately affect those physicians who provide service to hospitals, but who have traditionally derived all or most of their income from fee-for-service arrangements through MHSC.

I suspect that in the long term, the University and WRHA will try to force all physicians who attend or provide service at a hospital to sign individual contracts. For some physicians (such as private practice internists or general practitioners), this will not be a big deal. They'll just stay out of the hospitals. For others (such as anesthesiologists, radiologists and surgeons), this would be a very big deal indeed, as lack of access to hospitals will severely curtail their ability to earn income.

Currently, the powers that be deny that this is their intent, but very few of us believe them. If that is indeed their ultimate plan, it will not be beneficial in terms of recruitment and retention of physicians in this province in the long term.Very scary stuff indeed.
(signed) Dr. "XX"


CBC not alone in refusing to identify criminal suspects by race:


I had to report on a crime in progress some time ago and when I was asked to describe the individuals, who appeared aboriginal in appearance, the dispatcher at WPS told me that I had to call them Non White. The reason being, I don't know for a fact if they are aboriginal, metis, Inuit or part of another ethnic group despite what they appear. Puzzled I did a double check and said again the description and again was told to describe them as non white.

Now if I hear someone who was Non white being described in either a news story or police bulletin I shake my head as anyone who isn't Caucasian can match the description. K

Gang violence :

Is it just me, or is there a spin of “who knew” when you read stories about increasing gang related gun violence? I ask because I know someone who works in the Winnipeg judicial system, and I remember a story they told me close to ten years ago. A gang task force from Los Angeles came up here to talk to the Winnipeg Police about our gang problem, how to deal with it etc, etc. Guns weren’t yet a significant problem, but the officers from LA told the Winnipeg Police that if they did not get a handle on the problem right away that 5 to 10 years down the road, guns would become a serious issue.

Low and behold….

someone is doing something about it though...

I stumbled across your show by accident and now I am loyal listener.

I tuned in one day around the time of the Dumas case and listened to some of the testimony on Jon Mateychuck who happens to be a friend of mine. I enjoyed the way you exposed the media on what actually happened! Believe me there is quite a contrast there! If you know what I mean!

Anyway Just wanted say Great Job! I really enjoy the show. I tune in everyday at 4:35 and listen all the way home!

Here is a little story about citizens standing up against crime!

A few years ago we had a break in on out street. We were all shocked…"This cant happen in our quiet neighborhood" The person who's house was robbed emerged as a leader on the street and organized a block party. To make a long story short we are now a very tight knit community and you can't even drive down our street without getting attention late at night! We all look out for each other! For the record Im not a renegade but the people on my street are fed up with crime…If you plan to do something there are certain people on our street that wont let you get away with it!! (you know what I mean..) You will wind up with a dent in you!
We all feel safer with this system and I urge other communities to follow suit!!


4 Murders in January:

I wonder when the season premier for CSI:Winnipeg is scheduled for? Lord knows we've got enough storylines to start with. I'll tell you the criminals in the river city sure are overachievers. When are the politicians gonna get serious about the crime in this city? Its almost getting to the point where the military needs to start going door to door throughout notorious Winnipeg neighbourhoods dragging people out by their hair. Everyone in the city knows where the crime comes from yet the police are being handcuffed, no pun intended, by the justice revolving door.
Sent via BlackBerry on the 1X network.

Hydros' botched Exchange District expansion:

Hi Marty,

I was interested in the story about the proposed plan by Manitoba Hydro to buy and “redevelop” a block of buildings in downtown Winnipeg .

According to the reports, Hydro wanted to purchase the buildings to allow for an expanded substation. The Winnipeg Sun noted a “Need to expand and modernize the substation to meet growing demand in the downtown area.”

I think
it would be interesting to find out exactly how long Hydro has known about the “growing demand” and what part (if any) of that growing demand resulted from the completion of Manitoba Hydro’s own 22 storey building? One would think that Hydro would have completed a power study as part of their initial design proposals for their new Hydro building. They are, after all, Manitoba Hydro.

I understand that the new tower had a power reduction target of 60%. To clarify, it is still using power. The design called for a 60% reduction of the national building code requirements. As a large office tower, it still consumes a lot of energy…just not as much as some of their new neighbours.

Is the (reduced) power consumption of the new building more than the power consumed by the properties that previously occupied that land?

Was there a need to expand the substation before Hydro started construction on their new building?

Did Manitoba Hydro know about the need for an expansion of the substation when they were proposing to build their office tower?

If the expansion of the substation was cited as a possible requirement resulting from the erection of the Hydro Building , why were the costs not included in the initial budget proposal for the new Hydro Building ?

Thanks for listening and keep up the good work.


Coun. Nordman's hate-on for Mixed Martial Arts at the Convention Centre:

I love all these people that think that just because they are not a fan that gives them the right to try and have it shut down.
By that logic, because I am not a fan of the inhumane treatment of animals by Ringling Brother and Barnum and Bailey that I should try and get the circus shut down when it comes to town.
Fan or not…..not taking advantage of the monetary value of an MMA show in your city in these “recession” times is a foolish move on their part.

Maybe a safety study needs to be done first.
maybe Madame Cleo is an editor :

Hey Marty,

I noticed on A17 of the Freep today that they're apologizing for an error on January 20. They're apologizing now for errors that haven't even happened yet! Have a great weekend.

Free Press poll on City Hall ethics adding up to 118% :

Re: The Freep Polls...same thing for the WRHA equals to 108 %.

The value of archiving shows:

"Hey Marty, listened to the short segment that you is all I can say...that girl should be working with other addicts...she was amazing! I had no idea that meth was so prevalent in the peg. I`ve never heard of 92.2 kick fm before, I guess living in Greece now might do that lol, think I`ll have to check it out a little ;-Dxoxo"

and the value of re-runs ...

Listened to the repeat tonight... you was hot!
Go Mr. Gold.


and of our inter-active format...

I think its great that the emails you get are actually used. As you get them. Sent via BlackBerry on the 1X network.

not to mention social networking sites:

J wrote on your Wall:
"Hi Marty ... I just realized who you are and wanted to say I'm a HUGE fan of your show. I always listen to you while driving in the car.It just dawned on me now after reading your wall and going in to listen to clips of your show. You have that unmistakable voice. LOL Keep up the great work! You are AWESOME!"

Item last,
YouTube clips too good to believe:

* The 1965 Grey Cup (Wind Bowl) post-game show with Angelo Mosca, Bud Grant, John Barrow, Joe Zuger, Prof. Frank Cosentino, CBC's Fred 'Scooter" Sgambati, CTV's Johnny Esaw, the original GM of the Winnipeg Jets Annis Stukis, and many other sports legends, this is an unbelievable find:

* Danny Thomas in ABC-TV's 1971 flop quasi-revival, Make Room for Granddaddy, the piano player is former Ram defensive tackle Rosey Grier

* The very underrated 1967 comedy series -
was it ever ahead of it's time - 'He and She', starring Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss with the late Jack Cassidy and Kenneth Mars. (This episode is in black and white, the "new Cool Whip" commercial at the beginning of part 1 is a classic): part 1 part 2 part 3

The series was written and directed by the talent behind 70's shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, WKRP, and Barney Miller. Sharp writing, great timing, hip before anything else on TV was hip.

This episode "The Old Man and the She", which was in colour, stands up to any TV comedy ever, it's brilliant beyond words: part 1 part 2 part 3

* and for all you AWA wrestling fans, here is what may have been the greatest match ever for Winnipeg's Buddy Lane as he squares off against scientific master turned villain, British Empire champion Billy Robinson.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

WRHA execs attempt at spin control backfires

The Chair and Vice-chair of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority held a press conference this afternoon, hoping to de-fuse the explosive revelations that have exposed their officials as misleading the public about the death of Brian Sinclair in the Health Sciences Centre emergency room last September.

By the time the short 30 minute session was over, Dr. John Wade and Mr. Alan Fineblit were in search of headache medication and the nearest exit.

The razor-sharp insight of reporters such as CTV's Kelly Dehn (who broke the story last September), Jen Skerritt of the Free Press (who today revealed that
Health Minister Theresa Oswald had known since October, that the WRHA official version of the man's treatment was false), and Tom Brodbeck of the Winnipeg Sun, proved that the WRHA's tangled web could be unwound and laid bare.

Reporters have not been fooled by the braintrusts' talking points (i.e - they're not playing the blame game), bureaucrat-speak (Dr. Brock Wright's earlier claim "at no point was he engaged with the triage desk in any way") and earnest excuses ( Wright "mis-spoke" during a media event last week, although we then learned it wasn't the only time).

Between Skerritt's story, the WRHA's weasel-worded statement, and the clarifications extracted by reporters at the presser, new and important details have emerged that raise even more questions about who knew what and when, despite the WRHA's desire to limit the flow of information for oh, 2 to 3 years -- until an inquest finally takes place.

* The Administrative Review found Sinclair was delivered to the triage line after all and "an error was made in indicating he didn't".

* Health Minister Theresa Oswald requested the WRHA release the review to the public, but an unnamed lawyer told them to wait till it came out at the inquest.

* Sinclair was not triaged (an abandoned technical excuse for his being neglected that was discredited), but he was spoken to by a triage aid- em, clerk -- (the Board seemed to decide either term applies, but no one has a provided the media with a job description for either job yet.)

* Something was written down on a clipboard by the aid/clerk, but the WRHA has no idea what it was, or where it went.

* The triage aid "has no recollection of that encounter".

* "To the best of (Fineblit's) knowledge", the note Sinclair carried from the referring Health Action Centre doctor was found on his body when his expired corpse was finally noticed.

* Regardless of whether he had spoken to staff or not, and contrary to the alleged protocol espoused by Dr. Wright that the system relied on people approaching the triage desk so that they can be placed in a queue, Fineblit insisted "once he walked through the door, we have ownership of Mr. Sinclair and are responsible (to get him the care he was seeking)".

* "We have not found anybody to be disciplined", and "we have not found any conduct that was deserving of sanction but many (staff) made mistakes."

* The board executives- Wade and Fineblit, only viewed the video for the first time this morning and saw only 5 minutes of it.

* They have no idea how much of the 34 hours of survillance video Wright saw last Thursday, before he finally admitted that Sinclair had interacted with staff manning the desk but left out the part about his vomiting and still being ignored by medical staff.

* They had no idea that Wright had claimed last September that Sinclair had not approached the triage desk; when pressed by reporters with - drats! memories and notes, they conceded that Wright "misspoke twice", last September and again last week.

* Wright '"had no rational reason to mislead".

* Despite CEO Dr. Brian Postl's claim on CJOB last Friday that access to the video had been limited to 2 human resources officials, lawyers and Dr. Wright to ensure the tape was not tampered with, today
neither Wade nor Fineblit could say how many people have actually seen the tape or when or what parts.

* Wright mis-spoke because " he had not been been at HSC for some time and it was sometime since he familiarized himself with the file", when he nonetheless attempted last week to dispute the findings of chief medical examiner Dr. Balachandra that A) Sinclair was seen on tape in line at the triage desk, B) that onlookers were ignored when they tried to get Sinclair help, and C) that the WRHA's earlier version of events was patently false and absurd.

* The Board of Directors was unanimous in supporting Postl and Wright.

* Even though the "the board does not know the full story", they are the ones to be held responsible.

* The WRHA honchos refused Brodbeck's request to meet for two hours to answer questions and insisted "the worst possible thing is for bits of information to come out" (even though that is what they had accomplished with their presser), and that we should all wait for the inquest.

For a synopsis of media coverage prior to today, please go to

Conspicuous by their silence this morning about Oswald misleading the legislature (by never correcting the impression she gave the House that Sinclair was not anywhere near the triage desk), was CJOB.

In the course of 3 hours of morning programming, including one hour of open lines with Premier Gary Doer, the subject of Sinclair's death, Theresa Oswald, or the WRHA's cover up, was not mentioned even once.

We discovered that CJOB's reticience to criticize HSC staff for their handling of Sinclair's doomed ER visit or report that Theresa Oswald had misled the Legislature, may be connected to a conflict between their responsibility as a news leader, and the presence of GM Garth Buchko on the HSC Foundation Board of Directors alongside former Free Press editor Nicholas Hirst.

Today on our show, Conservative leader Hugh McFadyen said that he would fire Postl and Wright if he were Health Minister, and would release the Administrative Review immediately after excising the names of staff to protect their privacy rights. The opposition is united on those points, as Liberal leader Dr. Jon Gerrard set out the same stance yesterday on TGCTS.

On Wednesday, Kelly Dehn of CTV Crimewatch will join us at 4.10 PM and has even more about the WRHA's peculiar definition of "transparency"; and we'll have more about their brown envelope addiction, our continuing search for the WRHA conflict of interest policy, plus your emails and calls.

(A reminder that on Friday at 5.05 PM, Councillor Grant Nordman will explain his concerns about Mixed Martial Arts competitions being allowed in Winnipeg.)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

In search of the WRHA's invisible "transparency"/January guest list

The past week has proven an invaluable lesson for listeners about the true meaning of "transparency"- especially after it was defined by leading health officials and their real boss, Health Minister Theresa "dusk till dawn" Oswald.

Our request to interview Oswald about the WRHA's brown envelope addiction was ignored until by her office after our deadline on Monday.

Then we were told to make the request through Cabinet Communications, whose perfect record in producing cabinet ministers for our show
remains unblemished- they did not respond even after we were told on Tuesday "Dave (Leibl) will get back to you".

We left another reminder for Dave on Friday and were told "I'll put it forward", which must be spinner-talk for "don't hold your breath".

Meanwhile, our search for the missing public documents that would guide the WRHA's controversial value-added policy was ignored by 2 officials, then the next 2 on the chain were away on vacation (how con-veeen-ient).

Finally on Friday, we called on their Chief Privacy Officer, Landis Esposito. She said she'd go back to the first 2 and see if they are working on our request, and get back to us on Monday.

To be clear, the Ombudsman's privacy investigators have repeatedly told us in the past, always ask the co-ordinator to verify the documents being asked for are available to the public -- WITHOUT forcing citizens or media to file a formal application for access unnecessarily.

Since potential suppliers were told to read all procurement policies including the Conflict of Interest/Personal Gains policy before tendering a bid, we are mystified why it disappeared from the internet and has not been found. We have googled in vain for all of the bid and privacy policies dating back to Dr. Brian Postl's arrival in the command chair at the WRHA in 1999, to no avail. We'll see what Esposito can do about bringing the documents out of their hiding place.

Meanwhile, Health Sciences Centre Chief Operating Officer Adam Topp entered the fray, defending the WRHA (despite their refusal to produce
records of who gave how much and what it was spent on,) and - surprise ! - repeating the talking points of his boss, Oswald.

"It is ironic that the WRHA is vilified for trying to change a culture that has existed for so long, for trying to be transparent."

We'll have more about with Liberal leader Dr. Jon Gerrard at 4.12 PM today, on brown envelopes, brown nosing, the definition of transparency, and the startling Free Press expose that the late Brian Sinclair was seen vomiting and was denied help by Topp's HSC emergency room staff.

Also, we'll follow-up on the continuing HSC plan to block-bust the West Alexander neighborhood and displace residents of up to 300 homes, ask why city police didn't know the law about construction-zone photo radar and have seen 9 tickets tossed out of court, and talk to Scott Taylor of the National Post about the Manitoba Boxing Commission's latest scandal, the near-death of MMA fighter Dean Lewis under the watchful eye of MBC honcho Dr. Henry Janzen.
Special thanks to all our guests in January:

Scott Taylor, National Post

Stacey Ashley, CTV News

Ron East, Canada Sheli

Chris Jericho, WWE superstar, RRC alumnus emeritus

Councillor Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan)

Jon Waldman, SLAM Sports

Mike Sutherland, Winnipeg Police Association

Kelly Dehn, CTV News Crimewatch

Danny Duggan, Canadian Wrestling Elite promotion

Geoff Currier, CJOB host turned civic candidate

Joan Wilson, Unicity Taxi

Kelly Holmes, Resource Assistance for Youth (RAY)

Bryan Danielson, Wrestling Observer Newsletter Wrestler of the Year 06/07

Hugh McFadyen, Manitoba PC party leader

Colin Craig, Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Andrew Allentuck, author When Can I Retire

Ken Klassen, engineering technologist/ Route 90 upgrade analyst

(Plus -- the girl caller who explained the meth problem in Winnipeg and provided insight into the suicide death of D.J. Van Den Bosch after a confrontation with police. Thank you very much.)

Friday, February 6, 2009

WRHA twists and squirms while Oswald hides from tough questioning

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has been battered this week by 2 scandals.

In the first, they claim that bonus payments from suppliers that comes in sealed brown envelopes after a bid is chosen, is under strict doctors' supervision. Since 4 of the WRHA's finest open the envelopes together, surely nothing other than a cheque made out to the WRHA ever fell onto the table, they insisted.

CEO Dr. Brian Postl originally tried (on CJOB- go to the Monday Feb. 2 audio vault 9.10 AM) to mock Jen Skerritt's scoop as " an amusing view" of the bidding policy. A real laugher.

If you listen carefully to that interview with Richard Cloutier, you will note that at no time , did Postl say he had invited the provincial auditor to review their tendering practice. Nor did he once address, the $2.2 million dollars in "unrestricted" value-adds under his direct control. It was only at the conclusion of a Letter to the Editor in Wednesday's Free Press, that Postl revealed his willingness to have the WRHA's value-added policy probe. Although he framed it as asking for advice about how they should operate in the future, and NOT a review of the past revenues and expenditures of what amounted to a slush fund.

This morning in an "exclusive" segment on CJOB (after 10 AM), Postl reiterated that he invited Carol Bellringer to audit them in a letter he sent her on Monday. We can only conclude the letter was sent AFTER Conservative leader Hugh McFadyen called for the auditor to investigate.

Cloutier did not catch this weasel-wordplay. And Postl did not utter one word about the perception of conflict of interest raised, by his having a slush fund to dole out on his sole authority.

Then again, Cloutier didn't ask him about it, nor did he ask about why the Conflict of Interest/Personal Gains policy that Postl swears guided their actions, cannot be found online and is not being produced for the public to evaluate those protests of innocence.

We have made 3 requests for the documentaion that guided the WRHA in dealings with suppliers going back to 1999, when Postl became head honcho. We have yet to receive even an acknowledgement, let alone an answer.

That is hardly a surprise, since we asked Health Minister Theresa Oswald twice for an interview, were assured cabinet communications would get back to us, and again all week long, there is only silence from her on our request.

One listener in the know described the silent treatment this way:

Believe me when I tell you that the minister of Health has no intention of acknowledging that you exist. I don't know if this comes from higher up the chain or not, but you will not get acknowledgment from the minister nor the department. There is some eye rolling going on when your name is mentioned. They act as if they've never heard of you, then, when reminded, will roll their eyes and make a dismissive comment regarding your place in the media.

Considering that Madame Oswald ducked the Free Press and the Sun on Wednesday when scandal #2 broke, I guess they are now celebrating as I do, being dismissed as "Lesser media" by the NDP government.

No matter. The Doer government have been exposed for their twisting of language and changing the subject whenever the heat is put on by tough questions about the WRHA.

Oswald called Postl 'courageous' after the Free Press outed their brown envelope scheme, and lauded the WRHA for their 'transparency' at the same time as they hid behind the privacy laws and insisted reporter Skerritt file forms and wait at least 60 days for the revenue and payout details from the value-add file.

Here's an email from a concerned listener:

Hi Marty,

If nobody else says it....thanks for your contributions to better Manitoba through educational radio and for turning mountains into mole hills. Your continued coverage on this brown envelopes got me thinking.... If the following facts are true:

1) WRHA has a one shot budget to get all they need to address their needs and sometimes their wants
2) They must pad room for surprises in their budget submission
3) There will always have remainder wishes

If these budget shortcomings are know well before their bidding process, might these shortcomings be communicated discretely to said suppliers to ensure these brown envelopes collectively account for the REAL needs of WRHA? This would be advantageous especially since the Provincial Government would be trying to maintain an balanced budget illusion, while hoping Corporations can flip the bill without going to the Province for more money?

If this were true, then the brown envelopes would also become an indirect means of padding untraceable political contributions. Speculating this were true, then maybe there is a new spin on the horizon from the Government top ensure this evidence was never exposed.

Cheers, and keep up the great work!


As for scandal # 2, is there anything more pathetic than Dr. Brock Wright, the number 2 executive in the WRHA office, contorting himself yesterday to the point of asphyxiation when revising the actual facts of the Brian Sinclair death at the HSC emergency room to meld with his 4 month campaign of excuses and distortion, which he did conducted having seen all the evidence ?

"Wright said the system relies on people approaching the triage desk ... staff was surprised Sinclair wouldn't have checked in at the triage desk." (CTV Sept. 23rd)

"I didn't feel the need to review the videotape myself... My information is that he did not formally present himself to the triage desk" (CTV News Wednesday)

"Wright now says the video shows that Sinclair wheeled himself into the line at the triage desk where the triage nurse on duty was seeing one person ahead of him." (Winnipeg Free Press Thursday)

(Entirely missing from all MSM reporting on the changing Sinclair story is the abandoned claim about the Health Sciences Centre nursing complement being short-staffed, and that a concerned onlooker was told "they were too busy to check on him." )

As a listener told us yesterday, an internal "Sinclair update" was issued to staff after Wright was forced to issue the statement Thurday reversing his field and admitting the truth.

Wright's excuse for not looking at the tape ?

"To avoid any suggestion of interference while the incident was being reviewed".

And Brian Postl's explanation on CJOB this morning?

"one of the points of view that was dominant was that we should limit access to the tapes" to avoid "TAMPERING".

So which is it? Was the WRHA worried about perceptions of conflict of interest about their internal Sinclair death review - which they utterly dismiss is a concern when it comes to their addiction to brown envelopes - or was it their officials could not be trusted with evidence about Sinclair's last hours? (This on the eve of the Provincial Auditor waltzing into their offices looking for financial records about the value-adds.)

On CJOB this morning, Postl concluded "Dr. Wright was caught in a misperception, yes it is a mistake", that led him to repeat a lie about Brian Sinclair to the public, and blame the dead for not checking in at the triage desk to get processed.

Yet Postl assures the public, "his (Wright's) future is as strong and bright as it has ever been."

That, in a nutshell, is the way the WRHA interprets the meaning of transparency and accountability in health care. And Theresa Oswald, their political master, see Postl as a "courageous" leader.

The sound you hear is of Tommy Douglas spinning in his grave.

Postscript: an email from a listener

Hi Marty,

To hear you today indicate the Mr. Postl didn`t share the details of a video footage from both the Minister of Health, and Dr. Brock Wright because of potential tampering of evidence is irresponsible on his part. Seems we continue to have a problem with responsibility of management in the Manitoba public sector that just cannot compare to the private sector. Case in point:

1) If Mr. Postl is the man in charge, has the responsibility to act as the liaison between his department and the public who rely on his guidance to protect them from malpractice, mistreatment, or potentially their own death under the care of his operations......then when something does happen, he should be the first man to rally the troops, assess the situation and delegate responsibilities and responses to address the concerns of the public who affect his livelihood.

2) If the public were to be questioning others within his department, then they SHOULD have a story (abet a company line story) to adhere to before addressing the media.

3) If you have evidence that must remain confidential under would pass along a press release to have everyone understand what actions are underway, what is being reviewed, and a projected date of a response to address their concerns.

Because you takes a `Greater than Thou` approach to your position, would indicate that you are quite happy if anyone other than yourself takes the rap for any irresponsible acts within your control (sounds like he`s qualified to be an NHL General Manager, or bidding for Gary Betman`s job).

In the Private sector...Maple Leaf is labeled to potentially tainted meat. THey immediately pull the products in question off the market, investigate their operations, uncover the source, and the President of the company has enough sense to address it publically through VARIOUS media to take responsibility, provide a vision of what actions he has taken to regain credibility and address any customer concerns.

I believe it is time for action Dr. Postl, or are you just not responsible enough to handle your job.....


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Frank the Italian Barber saddest man in Winnipeg; all about WRHA's brown envelopes and murders #4, 5, and 6

Say what you want about the opinionated King of Corydon Avenue, but alone among all the pundits, he steadfastly maintained from about week 8 of the NFL regular season, that the Arizona Cardinals was a team that was headed for glory.

On Monday, Frank, having parlayed his hunch into untold riches behind the skill and artistry of wily quarterback Kurt Warner and speedy son-of-a-journalist Larry Fitzgerald, will describe the full emotion of (cue Jim McKay) "the agony of defeat".

The twists and turns of luck and effort and of course, officiating, all conspired to deliver one of the most exciting Super Bowls in history but one of the most crushing disappointments in Franks's prognostication career.

Along with our analysis of the 27-23 Pittsburgh Steelers football championship there is a lot of important news to catch up on.

* Right in line with our focus this year on "the untouchables" such as justice and health officials, Jen Skerritt of the Winnipeg Free Press blew the lid off the biggest scandal to ever - indisputably - touch on Gary Doer and his cabinet in Saturday's edition.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority practice of accepting brown envelopes totaling over $20 Million from bid-winning suppliers, in a shady "value-added" process that they swore they've been trying to fix, they swear to it, for over 2 years now, raises questions that will shake the halls of power long and deep.

Supposedly, as long as an unnamed quartet of insiders opened the envelopes together, and the head honcho had sole control over the spending of $2.2 million of the loot, we can rest assured that the secret bonus payments 'had nothing to do with who won the bids', and 'the WRHA has policies', and if one official says 'the envelopes included cash', so what if the other said 'the WRHA insists on cheques', and 'heck, we've been trying to fix it for two years now', and as for the $1.1 million that went to the "regional corporate department" and not to patient care ( like, say, keeping the Seven Oaks Emergency Department open at night), well, 'watch out, those doctors and nurses are getting scratchpads from those pharmaceutical drug pushers !'...

Test, meet sniff. Inhale.

Health Minister Theresa Oswald has been invited to appear on Monday's show.

She told the Free Press that she was aware of the practice, and said she views CEO Brian Postl as "courageous" for overseeing the slow-as-molasses reforms to the bidding process.

Keep in mind the bidding process was so lacking in accountability the Free Press found not one member of another profession or from within government, who could remember ever hearing of such a lucrative side-stepping of transparency commitments and conflict of interest standards.

* Fresh details have emerged about the young woman who plunged to her death downtown last week. But she was quickly displaced as the cities latest murder victim, by 2 men seeping the end of their life out in a Maryland Street rooming house Saturday morning. We'll round up all the reports and see if there is more information yet to be disclosed.

* Last week the death of 2 aboriginal teens rammed by a stolen van near Black River, generated more calls than anything in recent memory. The universal condemnations also anticipated that root-causes apologists would try to blame the victim, for leaving his van running while grabbing a burger at VJ's.

The public outrage about blaming victims and two-tier justice is a sign that the paradigm has shifted; last week the Crown assailed the host of Texas hold-'em poker games on Corydon as 'organized crime', but agreed to ask a judge (Meyers? Lismer? depends on which paper you read) to sentence a 21 year old involved in the stolen car massacre of Duffy's taxi driver Tony Lanzellotti to PROBATION. Just like 11 of his underage co-accused.

The concept that sentences for violent crimes include consideration of deterrance and denunciation, means nothing to the Crown Attorney's employed by Justice Minister Dave Chomiak. Apparently neither does the so-called requirement to ensure a victim impact statement (in this case, from the widow), forms part of the record for a judge to evaluate.

In another case recently, the Crown bragged about a "plea bargain" for the 56 months sentence given to a man who failed to break into the home of a Crown attorney, in an incident where no weapon was used and no one was injured.

Listeners compared that with the slap on the wrist of 21 months given to a 16 year old Native Syndicate hooligan, who broke into and wrecked a strangers' home with 2 buddies and stabbed a 59 year old resident 3 times, because the punk had a beef with the landlord.

The only logical conclusion: If the home of a Crown Attorney doesn't get actually broken into or anyone gets hurt, perp gets 56 months; if Joe Sixpack lives on Alexander Avenue, his possessions get destroyed and he suffers a performated lung, the attacker gets less than half that sentence, and a hug to boot.

Two tier justice - one for the rest of us, and another for "the untouchables".

The public sees through all the government talk about being tough on car thieves and punks. Compared with the fury unleashed on someone accused of undermining the NDP's gambling monopoly by holding poker tournaments, gang bangers who terrorize someone in their home or steal a car (or joyrides in one) rightfully thinks, they can probably get away with anything that happens- including murder !- and face minimal consequences.

* Don't forget to check out The Spirited Kenny Show, from 3-4.00 and 5.30 - 7 PM on Tuesday, sandwiched around TGCTS.