Call to action

The recent posting on the website, YouTube, of a video clip highlighting some neglected areas in Thunder Bay was shocking to see.
As you know, I am a strong advocate for Northwestern Ontario. I always stand up for the best interests of our communities and emphasize the positive rather than focusing on the negative.
However, the abandoned buildings and images of decay shown in the video must be seen as a wake-up call.
We know our young people are leaving without intentions of returning and we recognize our main industries have experienced setbacks.
The Thunder Bay-Rainy River area needs revitalization—and we must work as a team to create change.
We live in one of the most unique and beautiful areas of Canada, yet we take it for granted. It is a common reflex to blame others for the state of our communities.
As citizens, I believe we are all are accountable. When new initiatives are proposed, we need to rally behind the people or the cause to show our support.
There are many programs and community groups taking the lead in community revitalization. For example, Action for Neighbourhood Change is supporting the Simpson-Ogden area with an ongoing beautification program and the results have been positive.
Anti-crime programs have been developed, substandard housing is starting to be addressed, and after-school programs established.
Also, Trees Thunder Bay provides a great opportunity to beautify your yard or sponsor a tree to do your part for the environment.
As a community, we need to support projects that benefit all aspects of the community, such as the waterfront development.
An initiative like this will create jobs, spend money in the community, build an attractive space, develop spin-off businesses, and build community pride.
As individuals we can:
•express ourselves (share your ideas for improvement);
•join a community group (be part of the solution);
•shop at our local stores and buy made-in-Canada products;
•attend local events to support our community groups;
•donate to or volunteer for local initiatives; and
•take pride in your neighbourhood
Participation is the best way to make our area vibrant and attractive.
Things are happening—get out and get involved. A community does not build itself; it is the people who build a community.

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Call to action

Dear Mike:
On Nov. 1, 2004, the Ontario government stopped funding eye examinations for adults between the ages of 20 and 64 and in so doing, significantly reduced its overall investment in primary eye care.
Throughout the confusion and turmoil that was created last year by the government’s unilateral decision, Ontario’s optometrists worked hard to do what they do best: preserve the sight of all Ontarians.
Located in more than 200 communities throughout the province, Ontario’s optometrists are the front-line providers of eye health and vision care services to millions of Ontario residents annually.
They are passionate about ensuring that Ontarians recognize the need to protect their eye health, as serious eye disease often can occur without any noticeable symptoms.
Unfortunately, preserving sight does not appear to be a top priority for the Ontario government. How else can one explain the government’s continued refusal to invest in primary eye care services, including those delivered to patients daily by optometrists?
It is a fallacy that the delisting of optometric services led to improved services for those patients who continued to be OHIP-insured—children, seniors, and patients with medical necessity. If anything, it has created more difficulties for these patients, and for optometrists as the cost to provide these services continues to significantly exceed the level of the government reimbursement for them.
The real question is: what kind of investment is the Ontario government willing to make to preserve sight? Unfortunately, the answer appears to be nothing.
While it is now collecting an additional health care premium from Ontarians with the stated goal of improving health care, the McGuinty government refuses to make any investment to meet the increasing primary eye and vision care needs of Ontarians.
As the health-care professionals who deliver more than 90 percent of primary eye care services to Ontarians, optometrists see the devastating impact the government’s inaction is having in the province.
That’s why we have decided to speak out.
Through www.preserveyoursight.com, the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO), representing more than 1,100 members across the province, is raising awareness and issuing a public call to action we hope will motivate the Ontario government to take primary eye and vision care services seriously.
One way in which the government can demonstrate its commitment to eye care is to work co-operatively with the OAO to develop a new funding agreement for primary eye care services—one that reflects the burgeoning primary eye care needs of Ontarians who remain OHIP-insured, and respects the high professional standards optometrists are required to uphold within their clinical practice.
It is unclear why the Ontario government places so little priority on maintaining good eye health. Obviously, maintaining good eye health through regular eye examinations can help in the early detection of eye disease, ultimately saving the broader health care system significantly in the longer term.
Ontario residents want to preserve their sight through an investment in primary eye care services provided by optometrist.
We encourage everyone to visit www.preserveyoursight.com and get involved in our initiative to help the Ontario government see the error of their ways and re-engage them in preserving sight in Ontario.
Sincerely,
Dr. Bruce Lidkea
On behalf of the
doctors and staff of
Drs. Lidkea,
Elliott & Lidkea
Optometry Clinic