They may not have granted the $100,000 for life-extending treatment to Kimm Fletcher, but Ontario’s Liberal government did seem to have six figures to help a Scarborough bakery sell bread.
“We’re moving away from a time when farmers didn’t necessarily know where their produce was going,” Premier Kathleen Wynne explained Saturday as she handed over a $147,000 cheque of our money to Stonemill Bakehouse, out of a $30-million Local Food Fund, to help promote their delicious Prince Edward Country Rye bread.
“We want to make sure they know where the produce is going and purchasers know where the produce is coming from.”
This investment of Ontario tax dollars is just not going to help Kimm Fletcher.
She was in need of an $8,000-a-month chemo treatment to allow her more time with her husband, Scott, and children, Keidon, 10, and Martie, 8.
She was turned down.
The Milton cancer-drug-funding crusader, who had the audacity to have cancer of the brain instead of the colon, died Sunday at age 41.
“The troubling irony is if the cancer had have been inches below her brain, there would have been coverage for her to be on Avastin,” Scott said Monday. “That’s the part that is so upsetting. The drug is approved in Ontario but just not for what Kimm needed it for.”
The other troubling irony is if she had been looking to sell some rye bread instead of fighting to stay alive, there would be money available.
But for Scott Fletcher it’s not just the money the government wouldn’t pay to help keep his wife alive that bothers him. He naively believed government would roll up its collective sleeves to work the problem like they did for the financial needs of eHealth, the gas plant cancellations or even this important issue of better marketing bread.
“It’s the 9-to-5 approach where they say the day is over and we have a cocktail party to go,” he said.
There’s been no cocktail party for the Fletchers in recent years. They were fighting to keep Kimm alive and fighting the system.
Now she’s gone.
A visitation for Kimm Fletcher will be at Milton’s McKersie-Kocher Funeral Home Wednesday from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m., followed by a funeral service Thursday at noon at Holy Rosary Catholic Church.
“Martie at eight is like a mini-Kimm,” Scott said from his Milton home. “I am helping her cope but she is helping me. Keidon is angry and not eating and staying in his room. But together we will work through it.”
The whole story that “red tape” meant Ontario’s socialized medicine was not available to an Ontario woman is disturbing.
Even hardened Sun crime photographer Dave Thomas was fighting tears.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Deb Matthews told reporters at Queen’s Park that while Fletcher’s death is “heartbreaking news,” the guidelines must be followed since “we have a very rigorous process in place” and “we rely on evidence, we rely on experts to make these decisions.”
“It’s cold,” said Scott. “Heartless.”
And, he said, this is the kind of disappointment Kimm felt after her meeting last year with Matthews, who explained to her face-to-face there was little she could do.
“I don’t know how they look themselves in the mirror,” he said of those who can make decisions “to play God” but have cash for pork barrel projects. “They didn’t help when they could have. They just hid behind their policies.”
Scott called the government’s lack of response a “slap in face” to all Ontarians. He said Kimm will only have a legacy if people like 11-year-old cystic fibrosis patient Madi Vanstone are not treated like numbers but receive around-the-clock, out-of-the-box effort to try to keep them alive.
This didn’t happen for an “amazing and wonderful” wife and mother.
Scott said if Kimm moved to Saskatchewan the drug could be used to help her.
Instead they went the bake sale route and a sympathetic public raised $111,000 for her to buy the drug herself.
The Milton Buyer’s Club.
“In the end, though the public system didn’t come through the public came through and Kimm was so appreciative,” said Scott. “And because of the generosity of people she got at least another six months to be with her kids.”
With no investment from Ontario’s government.