By Tara Henley 
BELLEVILLE – Some residents of the Quinte region expressed their frustration with the Ontario health care system at a forum held Monday night at the Fairfield Inn and Suites  on North Front Street.
Among the more than 50 people in attendence was family doctor, Julie Bryson. She said she believes that other than the bureaucratic system, the biggest issue when it comes to health care is the Canadian government’s use of “band-aid solutions” that aren’t designed for long-term results.
“We are burning out our personnel,” she said. “(Health care professionals) are all trying to compensate for the flaws in the system because we hate seeing patients suffer. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t have to try and fight to get something for one of my patients.”
Prince Edward-Hastings MPP Todd Smith  arranged the public discussion in order to raise awareness of the concerns of those living in the Quinte region regarding the current health care system. Progressive Conservative Critic of Health Jeff Yurek was also in attendance at the forum. He spoke to the public about what he believes needs to change within the Ontario health care system.
“The system has too much bureaucracy,” Yurek said. “This is the underlying problem that needs to be addressed first and foremost.”
Not all those in attendance believed the health care system was flawed however. Cliff Maclean said that he and his late wife of over 50 years, Heather, had had “nothing but good experiences” when it came to the health care Heather received in the Quinte region for her advanced ovarian cancer. She was diagnosed in 2006 and was not expected to live longer than a few years. She surpassed doctor’s expectations and lived for almost a decade after her original diagnosis.
“I firmly believe that the reason she survived as long as she did was the quality of health care she received,” Maclean said.
The consensus of the forum was that the problems regarding health care in Ontario were not the fault of health care professionals, but the Ontario government. Another attendee, Evelyn Wilson, lost her teenage daughter to cancer five years ago. She said that one of the issues she encountered was that even though there were trial drugs showing promise in treating her daughter’s disease, her daughter was ineligible to receive any trial drugs due to her young age.
“It’s frustrating because you know it’s not the doctors that don’t want to give us these drugs, it’s the government. It’s their regulations and rules that kept her from having a fighting chance,” said Wilson.
Yurek said there are serious flaws in the regulations on prescription drugs in Ontario, especially those used for treating cancer.
“If you ever get cancer, my advice is to move to British Columbia,” he said.
Todd Smith said that he believes the first step to fixing the health care system was to “get home care in check” so patients won’t be returning and to the hospital after a short time home.