Of Secrets and Rumors

A basic rule of secrecy says: if you want to keep information secret, you must not share it with more than one individual – since only then you will know who leaked. This basic rule is unfortunately all too often ignored. Another rule states that information that was shared with more than two people will eventually and inevitably piece-meal out. Mandating to keep it a secret will – for some strange facet of human nature – only accelerate leakage.  Dropping somewhere “I know about X, but am not allowed to talk about it” will then rapidly trigger wild speculations, and spread, often in somewhat distorted from, i.e. as rumors – or alternative facts, to use a more modern term. That’s exactly what happens currently with what is going on at 650 Main Street. Whatever you may have heard, the following are the facts I know:

  1. WRHA projects to incur a multi-million dollar operating deficit in the fiscal year 2016/2017
  2. WRHA has been unmistakably mandated by Government to balance its operating budget in the 2017/18 fiscal year (starting Apr 1 2017).
  3. The so called “Peachey Report”, commissioned by the previous government and entitled “Provincial and Preventive Services Planning for Manitoba”, was made public last week and is accessible at: http://news.gov.mb.ca/news/index.html?archive=&item=40671
  4. KPMG, commissioned by the current government, is currently reviewing the Health Care System in Manitoba. The final report is pending.But: at this point, nothing has been decided. Thus, I strongly recommend to all of you: do not get distracted by rumors you may hear, continue to do the great job you do for the benefit of our patients. Do not fear for your job. Be assured that good people are always needed.

What does this mean? Our health care system will not be sustainable without substantial changes in how we do business. From a taxpayer’s perspective, it seems understandable that WRHA has been mandated by Government to strictly adhere to the allotted budget in the next fiscal year. The “Peachey Report” recommends substantial changes to the Health Care System. It is therefore only responsible of WRHA leadership to explore all options; to understand from all angles, which measures might best serve to restore sustainability to the Health Care System without affecting quality of patient care. Several such planning exercises are currently ongoing aiming at a) finding the right measures to balance the budget in the next fiscal year and b) to find answers for the recommendations made in the aforementioned reports (which may take longer to implement).

I know that this cannot completely remove uncertainty, but let uncertainty not develop into insecurity and fear that paralyzes and impedes rational actions. We are in this together, try to look at whatever may come as an opportunity for all of us, continue the good work and contribute your share to make things better!

Eberhard Renner, MD

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