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Letters Jan. 25: Co-living plans are no easy panacea; doctors' fee structures ignore reality

An artist's rendering of the proposed Townline Homes 16-storey building at the corner of Pandora Avenue and Vancouver Street. VIA TOWNLINE HOMES

A few alternatives to co-living housing

Re: “Co-living housing model is coming to Victoria,” Jan. 23.

Just finished reading the article. My partner thought I was reading Zits in the comic section. Tough to read when the tears of laughter are clouding my vision, but worth the effort.

Finally lost it when I got to the part about a “social lifestyle curator.” I don’t think Jack Knox could write anything funnier than this.

Yes, living with others is a great model and I recall it being very popular in the 1960s and still is now. Ask any UVic student or minimum wage earner in the city who are already doing it.

Sure, it’s a bit different situation putting people in a multi-unit building but really, isn’t it all about who does the dishes?

May I respectfully suggest a few alternatives for this and for the urban loneliness the article describes?

Use your social media access to contact people but don’t use it to be with people. Go get a coffee and talk about world affairs or social lifestyle curators. Volunteer anywhere your interests lie or don’t lie! Take on a part-time job where there’s lots of people around. We need workers and everyone can use more friends.

Lastly, don’t expect these new units to be “affordable” housing. What we really need are more “subsidized” units for the single parents and those with mental health issues who struggle with life every day.

You know, the ones who aren’t going to be approved by the social lifestyle curator to live in this building.

Nigel Beattie

High workload, high costs — for $31 a patient

A few years ago, before I gave up full-time office practice as a family doctor, I posted this on Facebook:

“Oh joy oh joy, an 8 a.m. meeting of the utilization committee, and the next night a medical staff meeting, and the next morning a medical executive meeting, and the next week an all-day provincial immunization committee meeting, and an aboriginal health care meeting at the Comox Big House, and then a slew of CME meetings about various diseases. It’s a wild life in the med biz, all unpaid, of course.”

Recent letters mention the low pay for GPs — $31 for an office visit, whereas I recently paid $160 for a vet visit with a pet finch, and $120 to see the dentist — but there’s a tremendous amount of free work we do besides patient care.

I continue to work part time. I just paid the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. my annual (compulsory) licence fee, about $1,700. I will need thousands more for the (compulsory) continuing medical education register, Doctors of B.C. membership and (compulsory) malpractice insurance.

I’ll need quite a few $31 visits to pay for all that.

Kirsten Emmott, MD
North Saanich

Health policy says we should not get sick

It appears the B.C. government has abdicated its responsibility for health care. The ultimate proof of their incompetence in any and all emergencies in recent history is the decision to allow the sharing of rooms between COVID patients and non-COVID patients.

By definition, if one is ill enough to be in hospital nowadays, one is medically fragile. Bearing this in mind, our health minister wants to expose them to infectious COVID patients?

As a medical professional with 30 years’ experience I am absolutely appalled. Such incompetence is jaw-droppingly unbelievable.

Is any other country following this course? What happened to following basic infectious disease science?

No wonder the vaccinated are tiring of the unvaccinated — our government is making them a serious threat to all of us.

Field hospitals can be set up in hospital parking lots, foreign workers can be hired (I was educated in the U.S. and therefore essentially unable to be licenced here), stretch the MD and nursing workforce with nurse practitioners and ancillary staff.

Whether it’s Dr. Bonnie Henry making these decisions (hard to believe a medically licensed professional would) or the politicians, this is clearly malpractice.

The provincial government’s health-care policy?

Don’t get sick.

Nancy F. Muggoch, ARNP ACHPN (ret’d)
Denman Island

GPs are not getting the money they deserve

I am a retired GP, having practiced in Victoria from 1969 until 2003. The work was challenging, patients became friends, but the income was paltry even then.

A recent Times Colonist article cites the imminent closure of two GP practices because of poor pay.

An office visit worth $31.62 is utterly ludicrous. I don’t think that’s much more than I received back in 2003.

I recently visited a walk-in clinic in California for back pain. The fee was $130 U.S., or about $160 Canadian.

The cause of the GP shortage in Canada is obvious. With such a shortage of GPs, I am at a loss to understand why any GPs remain in the public system when they could opt out and privately bill their patients a fee commensurate with their training and expertise.

Not saying $160, but way more than $31.62.

John McCracken

Pay health-care workers what they deserve

It’s easy enough to blame the current government for the ongoing doctor shortage. However, when push comes to shove, most of the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of groups like the Grumpy Taxpayer$ and right-wing think tank organizations.

They complain about paying taxes. Then they turn around and complain they are not getting the services these taxes provide.

The cure for the problem is simple enough. Pay everyone who works in the health-care system that keeps us all alive the wages they deserve.

Doug Poole

Contract with doctors should encourage them

The contract between doctors and the provincial government expires in March. This is a perfect opportunity for the government to take immediate action to address the doctor shortage.

A copy of the letter written by the two young doctors from View Royal should be provided to the negotiators. It comes from two doctors who know the dire issues facing their patients, who now join 100,000 people in Greater Victoria who have no doctor.

When Premier John Horgan was diagnosed with cancer, he told us if we were experiencing similar problems “go to a doctor immediately and don’t wait,” which is impossible for many people in B.C.

He recently said he is cancer-free and so grateful for the excellent care he received, so now it’s time for him to give back. He must advise the Ministry of Health to negotiate terms and conditions in the new contract that will allow the rest of us to receive the same level of care he received.

It’s time to pay the piper.

Dorothy Mullen

James Bay Medical Clinic a model to be followed

The departure of two physicians from the Eagle Creek Medical Clinic, and the impact that it will have on their 3,000 patients, is another example of private practices, walk-in clinics and urgent primary care clinics losing practitioners.

Dr. George Zabakolas, one of the departing doctors, stated to the Times Colonist that he does not support doctors being paid on salary because he thinks that without the incentive of the fee per patient, doctors are less productive.

In the 1980s I worked for several years, as a member of the support staff, at the James Bay Medical Clinic that was associated with the James Bay Community Project.

In this instance, the medical clinic was staffed by salaried doctors and a nurse practitioner who worked within an environment that included complementary care.

This was a model that was created by the provincial government in a number of locations throughout the province. I can state that, without exception, the practitioners who worked in this practice were some of the most hardworking and dedicated professionals that you could ever hope to find.

In speaking with a number of newly trained doctors, I have found that they have one thing in common: They wish to practise medicine. They do not wish to run a business and all that involves; securing a location, hiring support staff, etc.

When I described the model that operated at the James Bay Medical Clinic, their faces lit up with the prospect that there could be an opportunity to do what they were trained to do — practise medicine. In the absence of this opportunity, many of them are opting to move into specialized fields, rather than family practice.

Our system has room for a variety of methods of providing family care practitioners. I do not understand why the James Bay model has not been fully examined, and replicated widely, based on the decades of success that the clinic experienced.

Pamela Madoff

Make medical training free for Canadians

We have had a shortage of doctors and nurses and staff for at least 20 years.

When I moved to Vancouver Island it took close to five years to find a doctor, and six months later he retired and the search went on.

I lucked out and got one in Chemainus. He retired about a year ago, but the doctor who took over his practice took me also.

One idea is to bring in doctors and nurses from foreign countries, but all that does is leaves those countries short, many in war-torn areas that really need them.

The government should make it free for Canadians to take medical courses. That would help replenish our medical staff and give our young hope and a future.

V.N. Wey

Politicians have failed, so back the protesters

I want to believe that our democracy can make big necessary changes. Unfortunately, we live in a province controlled by a party that has continually reneged on its promises regarding old-growth forests.

The Liberals and the Conservatives appear to represent economic “progress” regardless of climate issues and, in particular, old growth forest protection. The Greens have been muzzled by political infighting.

We need action on old-growth forests now, and we have no political will to achieve it.

The only light on the horizon is the protesters who ask only that old-growth forests be saved before they are gone forever. I support their efforts and cannot help but wonder why everyone else is not in agreement.

William Cresswell
Qualicum Beach

There are better ways to bring real change

Letters to the Times Colonist have recently extolled the merits of protest in creating social change. True. And let us not conflate legitimate protest with law-breaking, as has been done recently on Vancouver Island by Extinction Rebellion and related groups.

Protest certainly has a long history as an effective means for justice; but breaking the law to make the law, or civil disobedience, is a different category as long as our Canadian constitution is operative.

Civil disobedience is justified only when the law to be broken is demonstrably unjust, such as Jim Crow, apartheid or an arbitrary reversal of a constitutional right, as examples.

Objecting to old-growth logging or wanting to halt the climate crisis, serious as they may be, do not fall into this category.

Living in a democratic regime under the rule of law allows us to create change through political engagement, a free press, debate, litigation and personal choice. Seeking to short-circuit democratic norms by breaking the law is probably the best way to damage a cause.

Not only is Extinction Rebellion undermining public support for itself and its causes when it breaks the law, but implicitly declares disrespect for the principles of our constitutional democracy.

Protest, please. Engage respectfully to make clear what is wrong. Bring petitions. Seek rulings from our judiciary. Make your case to our politicians. Or best of all, run for office yourself.

But don’t break the law just because you disagree. Not only are such illegal actions ineffective, they also erode the democratic engagements that are far more effective in creating a just society.

Paul Walton

Crushing plant will not ease climate change

Re: “Renewable diesel, canola crushing plant to be built in Regina,” Jan. 18.

Federated Co-operatives says a new renewable diesel and canola crushing plant will be part of its plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Farmers, business people and industrial workers are some of the many who could benefit.

After claiming it would reduce greenhouse emissions, the article fails to indicate how.

The power of diesel fuel comes from the burning of its carbon. If the canola fuel contains less carbon than conventional fuel, engines will simply burn more of it to get the power they need.

There is more petroleum available for diesel fuel than can be used before global temperature goes above that tolerable for life as we know it.

We need to switch to energy sources that do not contribute to global warming. We also need food production techniques that will produce nutrition from the planet of the future.

We must stop using food sources like corn and canola to produce low-grade fuels. Economic benefit from biofuel only occurs using a biowaste such as fryer oil from restaurants.

Canadian emission reductions agreed to for 2030 or the zero emission promise of 2050 will not be aided by this project.

This is a feel-good article announcing a project in Regina. Comments about reduction of greenhouse gas emissions should have been eliminated as there was no evidence of it being true.

Jim Butler


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