COLUMN: Playing the government fairness card

Close family and friends, co-workers, acquaintances and even a few unlucky strangers will attest to the fact that I am a vocal advocate of non-smoking – a major pest, in fact, to those who won’t quit this stinky, disease-causing habit.

But that being said, I am not in favour of the B.C. government shelling out millions to help smokers kick the evil weed.

Close family and friends, co-workers, acquaintances and even a few unlucky strangers will attest to the fact that I am a vocal advocate of non-smoking – a major pest, in fact, to those who won’t quit this stinky, disease-causing habit.

But that being said, I am not in favour of the B.C. government shelling out millions to help smokers kick the evil weed.

At least not while I, as a Type-1 diabetic, who didn’t choose the disease, must pay for my own medical prescriptions and supplies, without any similar government largesse.

Starting Sept. 30, the government will be providing smokers with up to 12 weeks supply of nicotine gum, or patches, or prescription pills to kick the habit. The government estimates this will cost $15-$25 million a year, depending on how many smokers sign up.

Gee, wouldn’t it be nice if I could get three months worth of free supplies that could save my life?

On average, I go to the pharmacy every nine days, doling out anywhere from $75 to $350 each trip for the medical supplies I need.

Last year, I spent over $12,000 – more than $2,000 of which came out of my own pocket (to control this disease I didn’t choose).

I’m fortunate that I have third-party insurance – which I hasten to add I pay for – but many in B.C. are not so lucky.

In fact, it wasn’t that long ago, about eight or nine years ago, when I was working my first newspaper job in Grand Forks, getting paid beans and no benefits. Most months, it was a decision between buying food or buying insulin and test strips to monitor my blood sugar levels. Needless to say, I became a regular at the local hospital – repeatedly costing the system.

I get it that tobacco-related illness is costing the health care system, and it would be a good thing if smokers would stop this nonsensical habit. But diabetes is costing the system about as much, and threatens to grow much larger.

The B.C. health ministry estimates tobacco-related illness costs $2.3 billion a year.

According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, diabetes is costing B.C. $1.3 billion, and it’s expected to increase to $1.9 billion by 2020, if no action is taken to curb its growth.

Michael Cloutier, president of the association, says the economic burden of diabetes in B.C. is “staggering and threatens the sustainability of our health care system and the provincial economy.”

And yet, the government continues to turn its back on this disease, waiting until those with it are knocking on death’s door with gangrene, or vision impairment, or kidney failure, or nerve damage, or high blood pressure, or heart attack, or stroke – all complications of diabetes.

It’s as though the government figures we’ve already got the disease, we’re already doomed, so why bother. Or, maybe it’s because diabetes, sometimes viewed as the invisible disease, isn’t quite as sexy as smoking and cancer.

This quit-smoking program came just one month after the B.C. government decided to strip people with disease or chronic illness from getting any reward points, such as Airmiles, on medical supplies covered by Pharmacare, reasoning that it was not fair that we – the diseased – should rack up points on items the government is paying for, while the healthy unfortunates could not.

Alright then, if the government wants to play the fairness card, why not across the board? Why aren’t they paying for my prescriptions? Why aren’t they paying for my insulin pump? Why aren’t they paying for my continuous glucose monitoring system, which is not covered by third-party medical?

How is this fair?

Katie Bartel is a reporter with the Chilliwack Progresss.

Just Posted

Harrison Hot Springs country singer Todd Richard poses for a photo with Mission firefighters. (Photo/Sarah Plawutski)
VIDEO: Harrison country artist Todd Richard plans for a busy, rockin’ summer

Richard and his band look to live shows as restrictions start to lift

The theme for this year’s Fraser Valley Regional Library Summer Reading Club is “Crack the Case” and Katie Burns, community librarian at the Chilliwack Library, is encouraging people of all ages to sign up. She is seen here at the Chilliwack Library on Friday, June 18, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crack the case, read, win prizes with FVRL Summer Reading Club

‘Immerse yourself in other worlds and have a bit of fun while you do it,’ says Chilliwack librarian

A police pursuit involving Abbotsford Police ended in Langley Saturday night, June 20. (Black Press Media file)
Abbotsford Police pursuit ends in Langley with guns drawn

One person arrested, witnesses say an officer may have been hurt in collision with suspect vehicle

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

(Black Press Media files)
Burnaby RCMP look for witnesses in hit-and-run that left motorcyclist dead

Investigators believe that the suspect vehicle rear-ended the motorcycle before fleeing the scene

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

(file)
Pedestrian hit by police vehicle in Langley

Injuries described as serious, requiring surgery

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read