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Liberal Newspeak

If I didn’t know that George Orwell died 51 years ago, I would have sworn he was writing press releases and setting policy for Gordon Campbell and the Liberal Party.

In his novel 1984, Orwell coined the phrase "Newspeak" for a language where obviously contradictory ideas and words are lumped together by the state, Big Brother, to obscure the truth – your own happiness is based on the degree to which you can accept these contradictions.

Examples of Newspeak include "War is Peace," "Freedom is Slavery," and "Ignorance is Strength." The Ministry of Love maintains law and order. The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war.

You get the idea. You might even have read the Coles notes on the book back in high school.

While we’re still a long way from living Orwell’s 1984, the amount of Newspeak that gets handed down from the provincial government is almost disturbing.

Take the recent announcement by the Minister of Health Services Colin Hansen that the provincial government "will make changes to British Columbia’s Pharmacare and Medical Services Plan Supplementary Benefits programs to ensure British Columbians have the most vital health services while protecting access to those with lower incomes."

Those changes are all geared to provincial cost-savings, or rather to off-loading their costs onto medical insurance companies and B.C.’ers who aren’t already in poverty. It means shortening the list of essential services, delisting pharmaceuticals, higher user fees and higher deductibles.

The honest way to let the public know that they’re going to be paying more would be to say "We’ve looked at the numbers and we’re screwed. We took a hard look at the services we offer and the drugs on our formulary, and here’s what we feel we can safely cut. Sorry, but we can’t afford to do more."

You can’t blame the Liberals for wanting to spin this news, especially since they pledged in their New Era campaign to "guarantee all patients the care they need, where they live and when they need it."

The liberals also made a big deal about the fact that they increased Health Care spending by 13 per cent, yet when you factor in the savings they can expect from these cuts, you have to wonder if that 13 per cent increase is being funded by government or by other health care cuts. Or was 13 per cent inadequate to begin with?

The government also said that they would keep health care public, yet a Liberal health committee is recommending user fees and making health care a provincial taxable benefit. The Hospital Employees Union said that these were the first steps towards a two-tier health system, which would involve increased privatization of services.

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