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Letters Nov. 23: Rental-friendly condos will cost buyers more; reducing bureaucracy in our health system

The province's move to allow rentals in more condominiums will end up raising prices and do little to solve the shortage of affordable rental accommodation, a letter-writer suggests. TIMES COLONIST

Thanks for the cash, Mr. Premier!

Thanks to Premier David Eby, my modest condo in an older rental-restricted building will be worth another $100,000 now that it can be rented at $2,000 a month or more.

Of course, that will make this unit unaffordable for first-time buyers and seniors on fixed incomes, but there are plenty of speculators waiting to jump at the chance of a high-return investment.

And those people who will no longer be able to afford to buy will be back competing in the rental market, so there will be no worries about a shortage of renters bringing prices down.

Gordon Williams


No consultation on strata rental plan

Plans to change the Strata Property Act announced by Premier David Eby will do nothing to ease the shortage of affordable housing.

At any given time, fewer than one per cent of strata homes in B.C. are vacant, usually because they are listed for sale. Typically strata homes are very well maintained and provide a standard of housing much higher than typical rental units.

The rent on a two-bedroom strata selling for $500,000 would typically be $2,500 to $3,000, plus utilities. Hardly affordable housing.

Rentable stratas will attract profit-driven investors into the market, which in turn will push strata prices higher, resulting in increased rents. Prospective homebuyers will find themselves competing with investors.

To invoke a rental restriction bylaw, three-quarters of the owners of a strata building must approve. Clearly owners in these stratas have strong feelings about living in a building with no rentals.

The plan to change the legislation overrides the democratic process for these strata owners.

Most strata councils are proactive in terms of maintenance and improvements to their property. Owners have a vested interest in maintaining their properties.

It is unlikely that profit-driven investors would support anything but a minimum level of property maintenance in order to maximize their return.

Throughout Eby’s announcement he used the word consultation.

There has been no consultation with the thousands of strata owners in B.C. who live in non-rental buildings, nor has there been consultation with the two associations that represent strata owners in B.C.

Kim O’Hare, strata president

The Oaks at Richmond


Reduce bureaucracy, find creative solutions

Former premier John Horgan’s pitch to the new premier to end health-funding gridlock is both thoughtful and timely.

Federal funding will be helpful; however, more funding alone will not solve the health crisis we are in. Our focus needs to extend beyond building capacity to managing demand.

The $708-million doctors’ deal addresses the historical inequity that existed in family practice and provides fair compensation to family physicians. Under this deal, a family physician who is earning $250,000 will get a 20 per cent increase and the one who is earning $200,000 will get a 50 per cent increase.

This historic deal will ease attrition; however, its potential to attract a huge number of new medical graduates to family practice is uncertain. That will depend on how the compensation increase that medical specialists are able to negotiate in the backdrop of 20 to 50 per cent increase to family physicians appeals to new graduates.

The new compensation scheme does not help either — it pays more for spending more time with each patient, and unless family physicians choose to work extra long hours, as many do, patients may have to wait much longer to see a family physician.

It is likely that the health crisis due to family physician shortage may linger on much longer unless there is a shift in focus from building capacity to managing demand.

The health crisis that we are experiencing did not show up overnight — it was foreseen decades ago. There have been calls to shift focus from treatment to prevention, from hospital care to health care, and from patient demand to population need.

Unfortunately, despite the talented and dedicated workforce that we have, our public organizations are padded with layers of bureaucratic controls that stifles innovation and creativity.

As the new premier works to end the health-funding gridlock, hopefully attention is also given to ending the gridlock of bureaucratic filters across management ranks of public organizations.

More humanocracy and less bureaucracy — simpler connection between frontline and top line — will help find creative solutions for the health crisis and for the challenges that we are likely to confront due to climate change.

Paramjit S. Rana


Requirements matter, not where they went to school

Re: “Central licence authority needed for our doctors,” letter, Nov. 17.

I would like to correct several inaccurate assertions.

First, the statement that the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. “commonly denies a licence to foreign physicians” is simply false.

This misguided opinion ignores the fact there are more than 4,400 physicians and surgeons licensed with the College who obtained their medical degrees outside of Canada from about 120 countries. British Columbia has a long history of relying on foreign-trained physicians to deliver competent medical care to patients.

It is also misleading to say that the College has “granted privileges” to Canadian graduates who have failed exams so that they can practise in B.C. during hospital staffing shortages.

While a small number of Canadian-trained applicants have been granted provisional registration when they fail one of their qualifying exams, this interim status comes with practice conditions as they prepare to sit the exam again.

Finally, it is not true that regulatory colleges across the country — or even across the globe — have little communication with each other. Our College works very closely with medical regulators in many jurisdictions and we have collaborated, where possible, on streamlining our respective processes and systems.

This includes having a fast-tracked licensure pathway for physicians and surgeons from other Canadian jurisdictions who already meet the College’s requirements for full licensure.

As part of the application process, and before they are granted a licence to practise, all physicians and surgeons who apply are required to provide a certificate of professional conduct, which confirms their full registration history, credentials and standing in a particular jurisdiction.

The College’s specific role in health human resourcing is to ensure those who apply to practise medicine in B.C. meet the necessary requirements and have the appropriate qualifications — regardless of where they graduated from medical school.

Robust standards and requirements are maintained so that B.C. patients can be confident they are receiving the best possible care from their physician or surgeon.

Heidi M. Oetter, MD

Registrar and CEO

College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C.

Heated flannel blankets help at the hospital

I went to see my friend and neighbour at the Royal Jubilee Hospital. It was such a relief to know that he is recovering from an emergency thanks to a responsive medical and hospital support team.

We often think of complicated technology as being the life saviour in medical situations, but I was reminded of the understated collective human value from our medical experts, their assistants and the patient’s network of family and friends.

I also noticed one surprise contributor during my hospital visit, and that was the simple heated flannel blanket that is often provided to patients waiting for treatment, following surgery or upon request.

When a patient gets wrapped in one or two of these heated flannel blankets … the effect is as good as a tender, warm and loving hug.

Carol Thibault


The new premier sees the light

David Eby has taken office with a series of proposals that certainly sound promising. My question is, given that his government has had a majority for some time, why didn’t they make these splendid proposals earlier?

Was the old premier remiss? Or did the new premier see a flash of light on the road to Damascus?

Arnie Keller



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