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Letters May 5: Fixing B.C.'s broken health care; keeping our roads open

Letter-writers have a variety of suggestions on how to improve B.C.’s health-care system. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Work together to improve health care

How about more spirit of co-operation in finding new and truly effective solutions to B.C.’s primary health-care crisis?

For starters, when legitimate questions are asked of government MLAs, rather than responding on the defensive with no useful information offered, I urge a more thoughtful response.

British Columbians are waiting for real answers and a sense that those entrusted to this enormous task have a solid plan that will lead to effective and lasting changes to our dysfunctional system, sooner rather than later.

I suggest more collaboration, less head-butting and more calm heads coming together with the common goal to create a system that truly suits our province and serves everyone equally. This is possible and the solutions exist if the will is there to try a different approach.

This is a complex problem that requires all hands on deck and true engagement with the people of B.C., including patients and health-care professionals and their political representatives.

There is a wealth of feedback, first-hand experience of the present system, and huge desire to create lasting changes being offered.

I hope that those in power will start recognizing this huge resource at their disposal if they would only seriously and gracefully listen to and engage with it.

Clearly, in spite of pouring a large amount of resources into their chosen plan to improve access to primary care, they are not succeeding in stemming the growing tide of people without. New and innovative approaches need to be explored and acted on with openness and imagination.

Ann Wilson

We all need access to health care

I want to correct the impression that was given in a somewhat discordant letter about the public health care system in Canada which was concluded with a famous quote by Margaret Thatcher.

This former prime minister was in power for 11 years and, at least after the Falklands War, enjoyed a lot of popularity. She took on the miners and many nationalized industries were privatized. Tax rates were lowered considerably.

However, the vast majority of health care in the U.K. was and is provided through the National Health Service, which is funded by general taxation. Reforms were made to the NHS by Thatcher, but she never scrapped it.

Different parties have been in power since she left office in 1990, but the NHS remains.

I agree with the overall tone of the letter, having already written to my local MLA, Grace Lore, twice about the terrible doctor shortage in Greater Victoria.

But I believe that were we not to have “socialized medicine” that the poorest and most vulnerable in our society would greatly suffer. We all need our health and we shouldn’t leave people to fend for themselves.

Matthew Cousins

No health-care action? Recall NDP MLAs

The loss of family physicians in B.C. and especially on the South Island has caused so much hardship and anguish. Even walk-in clinics have closed their doors.

The only avenue left is Telus Health, which provides virtual health care, dispensing health care without actually seeing the patient. The provincial government (we taxpayers) give more for each patient consult with Telus Health than a family doctor who actually sees his/her patient.

Who wants to have our medical system run by the telephone company? In response to the breakdown of our health care system, Health Minister Adrian Dix regularly announces new Urgent and Primary Care Centres, but cannot find physicians to staff them.

Something needs to be done. The public health officer should declare the situation to be a public health emergency, much as was done for the COVID pandemic and the opioid overdose crisis. Without longitudinal medical care, serious illnesses will be missed, causing hospitalizations and deaths.

We have in B.C. a mechanism to recall MLAs who we think are not doing their job, in the current situation, not ensuring the population has sufficient access to medical care.

The B.C. Liberals, when they were the government, laid the groundwork for the current crisis, but the NDP, in its second term, owns the crisis.

With several NDP seats in the South Island, including that of the premier, we are in a good position to force the government to take action. When an MLA realizes that his/her own job is at stake, they will see the writing on the wall.

Recalls can be initiated through Elections B.C. 18 months after the last election, which is now.

Kenneth Mintz

The would-be inmates are still in charge

A recently released letter from the British Columbia Urban Mayors’ Caucus gives the impression that municipal policing in the province has gone to hell in a handbasket.

The big-city mayors reported on the subject of repeat offenders; the numbers tabulated are staggering, but not really surprising to anyone who keeps up with daily news events. One repeat offender had generated 248 police incidents in a two-year period in Victoria, where he’s been charged 32 times in the capital city and 35 elsewhere on Vancouver Island.

The charges included minor theft, mischief, uttering threats, assaults and possession of stolen property, and resulted in 22 convictions.

He’s only one of those who the mayors referred to as chronic offenders who are involved in a ridiculous catch-and-release-hide-and-seek shell game; all suffering from drug addiction or mental illness, and usually both. This terrible situation is not limited to the big cities, but is in every community across just about every country to varying degrees.

Those of a certain vintage can remember the civil-rights era of the 1960s and 1970s when there were detailed media reports from mental health institutions in several countries regarding mistreatment of inmates, examples that ultimately decided a change of mental health treatment was necessary.

Eventually just about all institutions were closed, and patients were to be treated in their own communities; either at home, halfway houses, clinics or hospitals.

It became known as deinstitutionalization, and was implemented around the world by pandering politicians and well-meaning experts who were themselves suffering from highly inflamed imaginations.

Tragically, it created even more problems with a huge amount of mentally ill people resorting to self-medication and falling through the bureaucratic cracks. A direct result of those decisions all those decades ago can be seen in the homeless populations in downtowns worldwide, and in horrendous numbers of recidivism reported by the Urban Mayor’s Caucus.

There used to be a saying that the inmates are running the asylum, but even with no asylums these days, those who should be inmates are still in charge.

Bernie Smith

High-pressure water might open our roads

The organizers of these continuing Save Old Growth irritants have posted online their intentions to continue the protests/blockades in the hopes that the police or the public will eventually use violence to dismantle these “peaceful” protests.

Such events would then be filmed and posted on social media to further inflame the situation, but represent only the first step in fomenting societal change. The video describing their master plan is widely available on social media and is disturbing to say the least.

There is no doubt that these road blockades are illegal and must be stopped as soon as the protesters sit down and block a public thoroughfare.

I have a simple suggestion. Use fire departments to disperse these people by using a non-violent method — high-pressure water — applied continuously to encourage the lawbreakers to leave.

I doubt if many would hold their ground for very long even though they might actually enjoy having a shower. I also think our firefighters would enjoy thus working for the public good.

Steen Jessen
Oak Bay

Start racism database with elected officials

Building a database of British Columbians’ “ethnic origin, ancestry, faith, ability and gender identity,” along with their “education, correctional service and income assistance” sounds like a terrible idea! No matter how well legislated this database is, no matter how good the intentions are, we should assume that it will be leaked at some point in the future.

Imagine your least favourite politician or extremist group having access to this database.

How about we start with a smaller scope first? I propose that all elected individuals who voted in support of this legislation publish all details about themselves and their families that would be included in this database. Then, maybe, we can talk about expanding this to other residents of this great province.

Scott Newson


• Email letters to:

• Mail: Letters to the editor, Times Colonist, 201-655 Tyee Rd., Victoria, B.C. V9A 6X5

• Submissions should be no more than 250 words; subject to editing for length and clarity. Provide your contact information; it will not be published.