When I spent a week in the hospital I made a discovery; the food is disgusting.

Let me explain.

Years ago I worked at the Edmonton Remand Centre in the kitchen. Now, I wouldn’t recommend that food for any five star nights out but it wasn’t bad. Perhaps a bit bland but otherwise edible. I say this so you will understand how bad hospital food actually is.

There were many meals where the smell of the food alone was enough to turn my stomach. There was one particular meal, I couldn’t tell you what the meat was, where it was so bad I was unable to eat anything because the smell was so pungent. It smelled like a combination of bad body odor and wet dog farts. For anyone who thinks I’m exaggerating, let me assure you I’m not.

At some point I felt I should go around the hospital to see if there were any stray cats because I had a sickening feeling I knew what each meal’s mystery meat was.

And the coffee.

This wasn’t even close to anything that could remotely be called coffee. It was brown and liquid but that was all it had in common with coffee. And, yes, it did taste a lot like something you might find in your toilet during a bout of the flu.

In short, the food was just this side of inedible and they’re feeding this to people who are sick and injured. Doesn’t that count as cruel and unusual punishment?

But let’s put that aside for a moment. The truth is there is not one person sitting in the legislature that would ever put up with eating food this bad for a single second. Yet I know that it’s possible to supply a large group of people better tasting food. We did it when I worked at the Edmonton Remand Centre (although admittedly I don’t know what it’s like now).

So can anyone tell me where our health care dollars are going? It’s certainly not to quality food. Anyone with any ounce of sense knows how important good, healthy food is to healing yet our government can’t even be bothered to find out if the food is edible or not.

I have a sneaking suspicion I know exactly where our health care dollars are going and it’s not to the care, diagnoses and recuperation of the sick, injured and disabled in Alberta. We have a health care system that is top heavy and is clogged with management. Again and again I’ve heard those in the health care industry whisper to me about how many managers and supervisors they have to report to. Those whispers come secretively because they’re afraid to speak out and they know those higher ups will do their best to stop any change.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not just hospitals and clinics that are top heavy. It’s all over Alberta Health. Go to their administration offices sometime and count the number in managerial or supervisory positions. Now add in various bonuses and quirks like meetings that happen on the golf course. Yes, free golfing for those in Alberta Health in manager positions.

Are you angry yet?

There is a reason the food is inedible. There is a reason there’s a three-year waiting list for a hip replacement. There is a reason hospitals in Edmonton have equipment that’s falling apart. There is a reason there’s not enough long term care facilities.

That reason is fat cats sitting in positions of power that don’t want to give up their space at the trough. Isn’t it time we demanded an accounting for our dollars? How is it that countries like Iceland or Denmark or Finland can do it and we can’t? The wait lists for NECESSARY surgery and long term care are getting longer and absolutely nothing is being done about it. Why aren’t we screaming about those at the top getting cushy wages at the expense of Albertans’ health?

I hope the cats know to steer clear of Edmonton hospitals. I’m pretty sure I know what the mystery meat is.