This letter was sent to B.C. Premier John Horgan.
While talks between Trellis and the Sechelt Indian Band dragged on for almost two years, Health Minister Adrian Dix did nothing to address the health care crisis facing our community. The Trellis fiasco illustrates what happens when the public good takes a back seat to corporate interests.
The harms of privatization are felt acutely in communities where long-term care has been monetized. Last week, CBC reported that a blind 94-year-old woman had for two weeks been confined to a bedbug-infested room in the for-profit Cascades facility in Chilliwack. Staff say they were threatened with firing if they shared the story with other patients or their families. Cascades is owned by Sienna Senior Living, a $1.25-billion publicly traded corporation currently facing dozens of lawsuits for abuse and neglect.
In October, facilities in Courtenay, Nanaimo and Victoria were investigated or put under direct administration by the Vancouver Island Health Authority following severe, repeat violations of care protocol. All three are owned by Retirement Concepts, a subsidiary of the Chinese conglomerate, Anbang. In 2005, when Trellis president Mary McDougall was president and chief operating officer of Retirement Concepts, the Labour Relations Board ruled the company had engaged in deceptive corporate practices to circumvent fair collective bargaining at its Nanaimo facility.
These are by no means isolated incidents. Dozens of studies confirm that the drive for profit jeopardizes care while off-loading costs to the public health system. As MLA Nicholas Simons said before his party took office, “We know the profit is taken away from the care. Public care is better.”
Minister Dix’s courtship of Trellis is a betrayal of the promises that helped get the NDP elected. He must renounce privatization and immediately commit to build a publicly funded and operated long-term care facility on the Coast.
Wendy Hunt, Chair, Protect Public Health Care – Sunshine Coast (PPHC)