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Letters Sept. 30: High gas prices not just a B.C. problem; MDs are being forced to de-enrol from health plan

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People pump gas into their vehicles at an Esso gas station in Toronto. The recent jump in gas prices is not just limited to B.C., a letter-writer says. TIJANA MARTIN, THE CANADIAN PRESS

Gas prices are high all along the Pacific coast

We’ve been visiting old haunts in Los Angeles where we lived in 1991. After a week off the grid, we checked back in, via the Times Colonist, and saw a familiar topic in the letters page — gas prices, where it was noted that in the U.S., “gas is selling for $3.72 [US] a gallon.”

Through Washington and Oregon, we paid about $6 US a gallon for 91 octane; in California, well over that. On Thursday we left Malibu and ventured into Laurel Canyon, reconnecting with some of our favourite streets and houses, including a lovely old place Joni Mitchell once called home — always a touchstone it seems, that, when you’re a Canadian in L.A.

Still, and there being no accounting for taste, we also drove to Dilling Street in Studio City and parked in front of The Brady Bunch house, just as we did 30 years ago in our station wagon with wood panelling, and once again laughed ourselves silly. House looks the same. Us, not so much.

Back in Malibu, we filled up on the Pacific Coast Highway north of the pier, paying $7.19 US a gallon for 91, or $1.90 US a litre.

Reassured that gas prices are right up there all down the West Coast, we bought dinner, headed back to our place, and I walked down our stairs and went ­bodyboarding.

I’m not 30 anymore, this is no Tofino, and boarding won’t change what was almost a $200 Cdn fill-up, but it sure helps takes the edge off.

Adam Leamy
Victoria

Government failure has hurt health care

Re: “Authorities must act to preserve health care,” editorial, Sept 29.

While I share the concern for the implosion of family medicine in Victoria, I take great issue with this editorial.

It highlighted two concerns: Physicians unenrolling from MSP and charging patients directly, and widespread neglect of professional standards at many tele-health companies.

The editorial attributes the former to “an attempt to profit from the desperation of patients who can’t find a doctor.” Absolutely false.

Family doctors cannot afford to stay in business based on the ridiculous fees MSP pays. They are choosing between closing shop or treating at least some patients. They feel government failure to adequately support primary care leaves them no other options.

Were they trying to profit, they would charge several times the quoted fees. The same government failures have generated more than enough demand.

I am also concerned about the quality and enforcement issues in tele-health that the editorial cites. However, the editorial misses the main point.

Why have so many family doctors moved to this model of care? Why are they forced to cut so many corners? It’s those same low MSP fees.

The editorial leaves the impression that family doctors are the root problem. In fact, deliberate government missteps have forced their hand.

The B.C. government is responsible for ensuring health care is available when and where it is needed. We’ve put up with their failure long enough.

Mark Roseman
Victoria

Applaud the doctors who charge directly

Re: “Authorities must act to preserve health care,” editorial, Sept 29.

I would like to rebut this editorial.

First and foremost, it must be established that the current system of administering our health-care system is often mislabelled as a monopoly. The proper term is a monopsony, which indicates market control by a single purchaser.

In economics literature, this is an ­inefficient system regardless of industry or marketplace. Many well-researched studies, as well as analysis of different market models in international markets, have shown this inefficiency to be true.

Our system is flawed at the core and one can add decades of poor policy decisions to the mix. The editorial cites the College of Physicians and Surgeons website in an attempt to bolster the argument that the physicians specifically mentioned are “abasing” their profession.

Without digressing too far down a separate path, the college is a huge part of the problem in the same way that government over-reach can be a problem for society in general.

The bureaucracy they have ­contributed to is a significant part of the problem at least equal to the cumbersome MSP. No argument that the Doctors of B.C. (formerly the B.C. Medical Association) have heavily contributed.

To the specific issue of the clinics’ approach to direct-charging patients, I would suggest they be applauded. They could have simply done what countless others have done and left this area, or become hospitalists to avoid all the headaches and better their situation.

Instead they are staying in the game. They are accepting that there will be ­public debate and, as the writer has established, shaming and denigration.

Perhaps this is an opportunity to ­support and learn from the situation. The health-care system has always had a fondness for pilot studies rather than big moves.

Why not work together with the ­clinics to obtain meaningful data on what it would take to make practices successful at the grassroots level rather than a top-down approach?

My only question regarding this issue: What took so long for this to happen?

Jim Dooner, MD
FRCS FACS MBA (ret’d)
Victoria

Canada needs to increase its naval capacity

Re: “Achieving a more balanced and affordable naval fleet,” commentary, Sept. 28.

The author has proposed one of many versions of a possible future naval fleet for the Navy. He is correct in highlighting the requirement for a balanced fleet, but then provides an example of one that is not balanced in maritime capabilities.

The Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels were built to provide a mine-clearance capability. If Canada can’t clear harbour approaches from mines, then no navy or civilian vessel can sail from or to our ports. This capability needs to be retained.

Canada’s Arctic is vulnerable to the presence of foreign submarines, and our navy has no under-ice capability. Part of a balanced capability would include both manned and autonomous air-independent submarines.

Greatly increased numbers of submarines are vital to the defence of Canada. Also remember replacing frigates with corvettes reduces our navy’s capabilities greatly.

If Canada is to be a serious member of the western alliance, we have to increase our capabilities at least two-fold, as ­Australia has done.

With respect to manning our forces, surely a serious country with a population of over 36 million can provide the ­manning to protect this great country.

Robin Allen, Captain, RCN (ret’d)
Victoria

We should encourage saving for retirement

Re: “Give the money to those who need it,” letter, Sept. 29.

I am guessing that the letter-writer who thinks OAS should not be paid to those seniors with incomes over $50,000 is not a senior. The OAS is both taxed and clawed back at higher income levels, so it does not amount to $8,000 or $8,800 for all those earning over $50,000.

Care costs for seniors are already very expensive, and the more the government claws back at lower income levels, the more it discourages people from saving for their old age.

Seniors who earn more than $50,000 only do so because they saved for their old age when they were younger. Why save to create a retirement income of $50,000 if those with a retirement income of $42,000 get topped up to $50,000 while you get nothing?

As people get older they need more and more tasks done for them, which costs money and creates employment. For most seniors, prescription costs also increase as they get older, and failing to take needed medications actually increases health-care costs.

Having poorer seniors would ­ultimately result in higher costs to ­governments as they would need direct government subsidies and many would end up in long-term care sooner.

Having retirement savings shouldn’t be discouraged.

S.I. Petersen
Nanaimo

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• Email:letters@timescolonist.com

• 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. Avoid sending your letter as an email attachment.

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