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Letters Dec. 1: Lessons of Site C dam; many facets to our mental-health woes

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An aerial view of the downstream coffer dam at the Site C construction site in January. B.C. HYDRO

Does anyone remember Site C?

The issues surrounding Site C seem to have disappeared from the news cycle, overtaken by other important issues. No doubt the provincial government is grateful that the biggest boondoggle in provincial history is no longer on the front pages.

As a former president and CEO of B.C. Hydro reported last March: “When Site C was first proposed, the budget was $3.3 billion, it rose to $6.6 billion, then $7.9 billion, to $8.8 billion, then $10.7 billion and now $16 billion — with no guarantee that $16 billion represents a final cost estimate.”

Despite the fact that it was marketed as environmentally friendly, Site C will have more significant adverse environmental effects than any project ever examined in the history of Canada’s Environmental Assessment Act.

Fertile farmland is lost in a province that has precious little land for food production, the impacts include fish poisoned by methylmercury in hydro reservoirs, lost habitat and migratory routes for more than 100 species vulnerable to extinction.

But if you don’t care about food security or environmental impact, consider the impact on your pocketbook as a taxpayer and as a consumer of electricity. Imagine how much renewable energy, produced closer to where it is needed, could be produced for far less.

And if that doesn’t bother you, consider the devastation that would be created should those unstable slopes collapse and all that water in the reservoir go rushing down.

Never happen? Consider the Fraser Valley, where the unimaginable just did.

S.A. McBride
Cordova Bay

Only a small part of the solution

Re: “No easy solution to the mental-health crisis,” editorial, Nov. 26.

I take issue with labelling what we see on Pandora and elsewhere as “the” mental-health crisis. It’s one piece of it.

What about the nurses, lawyers, entrepreneurs, teachers, tradespeople, grocery workers, parents, etc., who don’t have access to the mental-health care they need, such as treatment from a psychiatrist? Their health, work, family, friends and lives are suffering as a result.

Only a small percentage will end up on the streets. Most remain invisible. Make no mistake, it’s the same mental-health crisis.

Whatever you think of institutionalization and involuntary treatment, that’s at most a small part of the solution.

Mark Roseman
Victoria

When council decides, staff get to work

Re: “Victoria councillors put off decision on increasing vehicle access to Clover Point,” Nov. 26.

City of Victoria staff members are among the highest paid municipal workers in B.C.

Their mission, when Victoria’s mayor and council vote as representatives of Victoria citizens to make changes in Victoria, is to simply do what is asked of them.

It is an incredibly weak argument for our mayor and some council members to suggest that a more balanced approach to access to Clover Point should not be implemented due to possible burdens placed on staff members.

Doing the right thing for the benefit of all in Victoria should not be a concept kicked to the bin because staff members paid by Victoria taxpayers are supposedly inconvenienced in some way.

Trevor Amon
Victoria

U.S. lured many doctors and nurses

Re: “Is there really a physician shortage in B.C.?,” commentary, Nov. 25.

What an excellent letter by Chris Pengilly. There was, however, one other factor that seriously affected the number of family physicians in Canada over the period of time outlined by him and still has its effect today.

In the 1990s, there was active and aggressive recruitment by the U.S. HMOs (medical insurance organizations) of Canadian family doctors and nurses.

These organizations could clearly show that the higher the ratio of family doctors in a given population the less expensive the care of that population group and quality increased.

Canadian family physicians and Canadian nurses were regarded as well trained and were known to have a good work ethic. As a result, we lost thousands of nurses and doctors in the 1990s alone to the U.S.

For the most part these were the more recent graduates; those that now would be at the height of their practice and experience.

Yes, money might have been a factor, but I think much of it was a sense of not being appreciated by the governments of the time (and perhaps still not). As one cabinet minister said to me: “Face it, we have you on a treadmill and you’ll have to go faster and faster to make the same amount of income.”

Many did, but headed south.

Dr. Al Wilke
Salt Spring Island
Previous Head of Department of Family Medicine (1990s)
Calgary District Hospital Group

Learn from U.S. to fix health-care woes

Re: “Is there really a physician shortage in B.C.?,” commentary, Nov. 25.

Excellent analysis by Dr. Chris Pengilly. His recommendations already exist in the U.S., of all places, with the mutually owned Kaiser-Permanente model.

I was once fortunate to be a patient-member and to know several practitioners personally. Whether doctors or clerical staff, all are clock-punching employees. The paperwork the physicians do are limited to updates of the patient’s chart.

The drawback of membership is the expense; unaffordable if not a part of an employment benefit. But that’s the U.S. health-care environment.

The wheel has already been invented, and if instituted in B.C. would roll nicely, someday.

Peter Whyte
Physician-less in Sidney

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