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Vote for Public Healthcare

May 4, 2017


The BC Health Coalition reviewed the major B.C. parties’ platforms to evaluate their positions on five areas that would improve public health care for everyone. Click on the following link to view the guide:

BCHC Evaluation of Healthcare Platforms

Please consider each party’s platform when you go to the polls.

Letter from the BC Health Coalition re Anbang

May 1, 2017

Rather than conclude … that Canada is hemmed in to the current system and cannot change, the more reasonable conclusion is that if we want to expand the range of services in the public system, it is better to do that now while there is still very little foreign presence in health care in Canada and the potential costs of [trade] compensation are low.
–Roy Romanow, in the final report of the Royal Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada

The British Columbia Health Coalition (BCHC) is writing to present our concerns with the proposed acquisition of Retirement Concepts by Cedar Tree Investments. In this deal, Cedar Tree Investments, a subsidiary of China-based Anbang Insurance Group, hopes to acquire majority ownership in B.C.’s largest private long-term care operator.

BCHC is a non-profit and non-partisan network of individuals and organizations with a shared passion for public health care. Our coalition community is comprised of over 600,000 people in B.C. We are young people, seniors, health care workers, faith communities, health policy experts, and people with disabilities. In sum, we work to continually improve the system we all rely on, and to uphold the values of caring and fairness that our system represents. We believe care should be there for everyone when we need it, regardless of our age, gender, income level or the town we live in.

BCHC urges Honourable Minister Navdeep Bains to reject the proposed acquisition because it is not a net benefit to Canada and poses significant risk to the B.C. health care system and Canadian Medicare. Allowing a foreign private equity firm’s takeover of seniors’ care services and entrenching its high-risk profitmaking model in Canada’s health care system is alarming and unprecedented.

BCHC believes that the proposed acquisition is not a net benefit to Canada because the proposed acquisition does not meet the “net benefits test” under sub-sections 20(a), 20(b), 20(c), and 20(e) of the Investment Canada Act. It is the BCHC’s view that this proposed deal:

introduces high-risk global business practices into a vulnerable sector (Concern 1) and global financial risk into the B.C. and Canadian health care system (Concern 4);
may result in the loss of democratic domestic control over seniors’ health care policy (Concern 2) by locking in this large multinational investment corporation into our health care system through trade agreements (Concern 3);
may undermine LTC working conditions required to provide high-quality care (Concern 5); and
opens the door for increased public health care privatization, including hospital care (Concern 6).

As an advocate of our public health care system, BCHC is alarmed about the secrecy and lack of transparency surrounding this unprecedented foreign corporate takeover of critical health care infrastructure that has been built and maintained through public funding.

Seniors’ long-term care is a highly sensitive sector, involving a frail and vulnerable population, and this proposed acquisition is a matter of serious public concern.

Retirement Concepts is the largest private sector long-term care (LTC) and assisted living provider in B.C with 10 per cent market share; it has 1,998 LTC beds and 781 assisted living units. The Globe and Mail reported that Retirement Concepts billed $86.5 million in the 2015-16 fiscal year to the B.C. Government.
Read more »

B.C. Election 2017: Parties agree home care, long-term care and mental health need more spending

April 29, 2017

Sophia Farquhar, a six year old Big Brooks volunteer, sits with Stella Zdrill, a Brookhaven Care resident in West Kelowna on June 2, 2014. Brookhaven Care is an Interior Health Authority long term care facility that has a program where kids interact with the residents. JEFF BASSETT / VANCOUVER SUN

The B.C. Green party wants to create three different health ministries, the B.C. NDP says it will boost hospital operating room times to reduce surgical wait times, while the B.C. Liberals plan to keep renovating and building new hospitals – with $2.7 billion earmarked in spending for such capital construction in the next three years alone.

The governing Liberals are also promising to increase the number of medical doctors graduating from the University of B.C., from the current 288 to 400 by 2025. UBC is already one of the largest medical schools in North America, but Liberal MLA Andrew Wilkinson, a medical doctor, said it should expand even more “because we need more doctors.”

The Liberals have committed to funding the training of 500 more nurses per year (about 1,300 registered nurses graduate each year) by 2022. The Liberals are emphasizing their record on doubling medical and nursing school spaces and building new hospitals to contrast with the NDP’s record of “failing to build a single new hospital” in the decade (1991 to 2001) it was last in power.

The three major parties in this B.C. election campaign are diverse in their approaches to many issues, but all are in agreement that home care, long-term (residential) care and mental health need to be bigger priorities. Amid the opioid crisis, there’s consensus among the parties that more services are needed, especially for addictions treatment.
The Liberals say that on top of the $1.5 billion being spent on mental health and addiction treatment, they will add another $165 million over five years for more recovery beds, counselling, research and housing for the most vulnerable. The NDP wants police to disrupt illicit drug supply chains and will advocate for tougher penalties on fentanyl drug dealers.

The Greens and the NDP believe a whole new ministry is needed to tackle mental health and addictions. The Greens also want to revive a healthy living ministry that the Liberals killed off after the 2010 Olympics. The focus would be on health promotion, disease prevention and active lifestyles. The Greens say their third health ministry would be focused on management of the overall acute care system.
“It’s not about creating more government bureaucracy,” said Green party spokeswoman Jillian Oliver, adding that having separate ministries means other priorities are getting just as much attention as, say, hospital budgets.
Read more »

Health Care Assistants training for Princeton residents

April 14, 2017

March 29, 2017

Okanagan College

HCA students Princeton March 2017:: (1)

Aging populations and retirements among baby boomer health care workers could spell a shortage of Health Care Assistants (HCAs) in many B.C. communities over the next decade. A special one-time intake of Okanagan College’s HCA program completed in Princeton recently and is already opening doors to health care careers for students in that community.

Natasha Smith has dreamt of a career in health care for more than fifteen years. On March 16, she became one of eight students to complete the program in Princeton.

A mother of three school-aged children, Smith says the hour-plus commute to the Okanagan College’s Penticton campus where the program is also offered, is not feasible for her. So when she learned the College would be offering an intake of its HCA program right in her hometown, she jumped at the chance.
Read more »

Walk with your Doc

April 3, 2017

Walk with your doc

Dr. Ella Monro gave a report on recent activities at Cascade Medical Clinic and announced that several Princeton practitioners will be participating in this year’s Walk with your Doc event.

Last year more than 4600 walkers from across the province joined over 300 doctors in promotion of the health benefits of daily activity. This is the first year that Princeton docs will be participating in the event and they look forward to healthy involvement from the community.

For more information phone Nadine McEwen at the Princeton Visitors Centre at 250-295-6067.

From: Princeton Health Care Steering Committee
Monthly Meeting – March 21, 2017
Ed Staples

RCCbc recognizes SOHC

March 30, 2017

SOHC at Rural Locum Conference - Nanaimo
SOHC Secretary Nienke Klaver and President Ed Staples meeting a delegate at the Rural Locum Conference held in Nanaimo on February 25. (photo by Sharon Mah, RCCbc)

The following article appeared in the March 2017 issue of BC Rural Update, the online news letter of the Rural Coordination Centre of BC:

“In 2012, the community of Princeton was in crisis. There was only one physician on-call for the community of nearly 3,000 people, the ER was closed for four nights a week, and there was a shortage of nurses, medical office assistants, and laboratory staff. Through the combined efforts of the Support Our Health Care (SOHC) group, the Cascade Medical Centre, the Princeton General Hospital, and allied health care workers, the community was able to recruit and retain additional health care staff and work with several stakeholders to restore existing services, and even introduce new specialist clinics to the community.

Princeton locals Ed Staples and Nienke Klaver, are two of the founding members of SOHC who have worked tirelessly to advocate, coordinate network, and support the community’s health care professionals. In a conversation with RCCbc last year, Nienke mentioned tongue-in-cheek that SOHC has become a retirement project for her and Ed! We salute the efforts of SOHC in enabling the transformation of Princeton from a community in crisis to one that is now stable, and look forward to seeing what innovative programs the community will put forth over the next few years.”

Click the following link for more RCCbc information:
RCCbc online newsletter

The Twisted Business of Donating Plasma

March 21, 2017

Since 2008, plasma pharmaceuticals have leapt from $4 billion to a more than $11 billion annual market. Donors desperate for the cash incentive from high-frequency “plassing” may be putting their health, and the public’s, at risk.

I needed the cash.
That was how I found myself laying in a plasma “donation” room filled with about 40 couches, each equipped with a blood pressure cuff and a centrifuge. A white-coated attendant (workers aren’t required to have medical or nursing degrees) pricked my arm. He separated my plasma from my whole blood into a large bottle, and returned my protein-depleted blood, which flowed back into my arm to rebuild my nutrient supply.

“My house is so noisy with four kids so I come here for my relaxation,” said a middle-aged, haggard-looking woman on the next couch, the plasmapheresis machine at her side whirring. A clinician instructed us both to pump and relax our fists, like cows milking our own udders.
Before leaving I received a calendar that mapped out my pay, if I maintained a twice-weekly schedule for subsequent donations. Even a $10 bonus on my next visit!

How did I get here? My rent was due. I had insufficient funds in the bank. I was 48-years-old, a journalist running short on cash from writing assignments and odd jobs. That was when I saw an ad offering $50 per plasma donation: blood money, or more specifically, payment for my time and any small pain involved in the process of having protein-rich plasma extracted from the blood. Regulars call it “plassing.” Read more »


To become a member of SOHC, please
email the secretary.
Annual membership is $2.

SOHC Discussion Paper

Developing an Improved and Sustainable Health Care Model for Princeton, B.C
Support Our Health Care has released a discussion paper in order to get feedback from the community, politicians and professionals about the state of local healthcare and what the long term solutions should be.
Download PDF Here