As It Happens

Wildrose leader vows better healthcare after son's death

“I’m doing this for him.” Brian Jean was elected the new leader of the Wildrose Party on Saturday, two weeks after the death of his son, Michael. Jean says his son’s experience showed him that healthcare is broken in Alberta.
Wildrose leader Brian Jean. (CBC)

"I'm doing this for him." Brian Jean was elected the new leader of the Wildrose Party on Saturday, two weeks after the death of his son, Michael. Jean says his family's experience with the healthcare system showed him that healthcare is broken in Alberta.

Jean says his son was his best friend, and that is was hard to witness the care his son received during his undiagnosed 9-month illness. Michael Jean died shortly after finally being diagnosed with lymphoma.

"The Alberta Health system is broken. Badly. It needs to be fixed -- 46% of our budget is spent on healthcare and we have one of the worst performance records in the country for healthcare. And it's because, in my opinion, they are only trying to treat people, they're not trying to cure them. They don't mind spending $8,000-$10,000 dollars a day on a bed in a hospital, but have them order a test for $2,000? They won't do it," says Jean.

Jean says slow, bureaucratic decision-making delayed tests for his son, and he doesn't want others to experience that anguish.

His son's death was "the worst thing that I can imagine anybody ever going through."

Jean breaks up during his conversation with As It Happens host, Carol Off, when he describes the note left by his son, from which Jean has drawn inspiration. It reads, in part: "The things that you do for yourself died with you, the things that you do for others are immortal."

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