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Letters Aug. 8: ICBC money, cyclists and the economy, improving health care

Letters from our readers
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Cyclists use the Pandora Avenue bike lanes at rush hour in Victoria on June 24, 2022. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

ICBC’s strange glitch is costing me money

A couple of years ago, ICBC distributed funds to its clients in reaction to COVID-19, largely because drivers were no longer driving as much.

I did not receive mine. I inquired. I was informed that I was as entitled as anyone.

Since then, I have inquired at least seven times. I have had my representative in the legislature inquire.

Every time I’ve been informed, as was my representative, that I am entitled to the funds and that they will be sent in about two to six weeks. Years have gone by.

Time after time, the cheques are reported to have to gone out, but they are never received, nor cashed, nor returned. My address has been endlessly verified.

And now, ICBC no longer has a line where I can continue to inquire about this matter, and without that it appears that I am not entitled to contact Fair Practices to initiate a dispute, and without that I cannot contact the ombudsman.

It’s a strange, rather unbelievable glitch. Now that a new refund has been created in reaction to gas prices, it’ll be interesting to see if I am also excluded from this new batch, or will it be another fruitless runaround for the next few years?

Funny, though, ICBC never fails to collect my monthly payment.

Trevor Ferguson

Victoria

Know that you are sitting on a Canadian chair

My blood had just come off the boil after hearing a radio interview where the young Canadian novelist talked about x, y and zee (instead of zed) when I read your Saturday letters-to-the-editor to find a correspondent praising the new “Adirondack” chairs in the Songhees.

Muskoka, please!

Let’s try to keep our language as Canadian as possible, eh?

Anne Moon

Victoria

Nations should deal with what really matters

While the planet is undergoing catastrophic climate change, what are the world’s super powers doing? They are fighting for more military funding and new weapons and battleships, rattling sabres about Taiwan, invading Ukraine and getting more antagonistic towards each other.

Imagine what they could do to fight climate change if each of these countries gave up fighting with each other and spent even half of that “defense” money on green energy and adjusting to climate change and started a world wide cooperative effort to mitigate climate change?

They are so wrapped up in their own issues they are not seeing what is of over-riding importance.

John Miller

James Bay

‘Life-threatening chaos’ in health care system

I know I’m not the only one around who is old enough to have had the pleasure of having to use the old outhouse. The very odorous little shed out back where we all had to go once in a while so sit and think.

Compare that with the lovely, clean, nice smelling, shiny bathrooms we all have and use these days.

Now, think about our health-care system. We are very fast slipping from the lovely sleek bathroom we know, back into the stinky, long drop, outhouse behind the wood shed period. Our health-care system has gone for a crap.

And, neither our wonderful Premier John Horgan, or the other guy back least, the young Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, are doing anything about it. Nothing, nada, zip. Each one is waiting for the other to blink.

In the meantime, people are dying, some dying while waiting in some lineup, or waiting for an ambulance, or trying to even find a doctor, or trying to get in to a clinic that only has one doctor or is closed because of a shortage of staff, or an emergency at the hospital that is closed today because no one showed up to staff it.

Add to this, COVID, monkeypox, and a very fast growing population. It is absolute, life-threatening chaos.

Lyall Eriksen

Victoria

Let pharmacists refill prescriptions

When so many people are unable to find a doctor, why can’t pharmacists continue filling safe prescriptions that we have been taking for years-anything from blood pressure to birth control pills?

Having to contact a doctor for renewals every six months or so, if you still have one, creates more unnecessary paper work for already overstretched doctors and daunting barriers for those who no longer have a family doctor.

Renewals for addictive pain killers for limited use or drugs with possibly dangerous side affects should still require a medical renewal.

Our medical system is in crisis. Cut out antiquated regulations and work with medical professionals to create a system that works better for everybody.

Stephanie Greer

North Saanich

Lost opportunity with profound repercussions

As I sit here idling with fellow motorists in bumper-to-bumper traffic on a typical West Shore commute, spewing more than our fair share of greenhouse gasses, I think how fortunate we are to have brand spanking new billion-dollar sewage treatment plant.

But seriously, it is beyond disappointing that even our once-in-a-lifetime south Island premier (and cabinet full of south Island ministers including the minister of transportation) was unable to resurrect E&N rail service to the West Shore and beyond.

A lost opportunity with “profound” repercussions for the future.

Dave Nonen

Victoria

Rail service question: If not now, then when?

It is difficult to believe that after our heat dome, fire season and atmospheric river of last year that our governments or anyone is seeing a rail service on Vancouver Island as something this is too profound, difficult or not achievable.

We have land that is already designed for rail service and the right of ways to have this service. The one mistake that was made when the new Johnson Street Bridge was designed that nobody thought that taking out an old bridge that had tracks and replacing it with one the doesn’t would create issues.

Our governments continue to make car drivers pay taxes such as the carbon tax without giving the population any other means of travel other than flying or driving.

Our sky-high fuel prices reflect this. Presently we have no way of avoiding these taxes if we need to go a distance from point “A” to “B”.

Bicycles don’t work for most people in most distance situations. Trains are economical, safe and can be non-polluting. Most cities who use light rapid transit have had to start from scratch to implement their system however they have the political will and foresight to make it happen.

We have so much of the system for this already in place. Our cost of living is high on Vancouver Island and the cost of accidents, gas, insurance and vehicles are only going in one direction: Up.

Light rail is a much safer and cheaper alternative to move both people and goods.

Obviously we can and do find money for new highways, traffic interchanges, highway flyovers, rebates for electric cars and we’re willing to spend a over billion dollars on a new museum (now not happening) but we can’t invest in a livable, workable traffic solution to our Vancouver Island.

If not now, when the land is available, then when? It will never get easier or cheaper.

We need to invest in getting out of of automotive mindset and realize our future has to be reducing our reliance on cars and more on light rail to move us in our communities and up and down Vancouver Island.

We just require the political will and foresight to make it happen.

Leslie Leyh

Saanichton

Thousands of cyclists contribute to the economy

I have to take exception to the letter-writer who made the false equivalency of bicyclists contributing less to the economy than the few millions generated by Deuce Days.

There are cycling events in this area that bring in tourist dollars.

There are thousands of cyclists who reside here and the numbers seem to be increasing. Take a look at some of the popular cafés and check out the full bike racks.

Also there are more than 30 bike shops that do a thriving business.

Personally, I’m neutral on Deuce Days.

Don’t get me wrong. As a male I like shiny toys just as much as the next guy — mine just happen to have two wheels and don’t burn fossil fuels.

Sandy Szabo

North Saanich

Your duty to give away what you own

To what extent will the extortive bent of our provincial NDP government reach?

Do you have a spare bedroom in your home? Why aren’t you allowing homeless people to sleep in it? Perhaps they will levy a special tax on you if you don’t. That second car in your driveway? You’d better allow someone else to drive it, or you will pay the government.

When did the distinction between “mine” and “yours” become so blurred? Since when has it become acceptable for government to usurp the use of a member of the public’s property, or fine those who refuse?

The NDP’s speculation tax isn’t a tax on speculators. It is a wealth tax; a penalty on those who are successful. If one has foresight, works hard, creates a successful life and is able to purchase a vacation home, in the eyes of the NDP that makes you a target to be punished.

According to the NDP and their supporters, you have a duty to give the use of what you own to others, even though that means you will no longer be able to put the property to the use for which you acquired it — a vacation home for you and your family.

The use to which a member of the public puts private property they own ought to be entirely a decision of the person who owns it. Government coercion is unconscionable.

Wealth taxes have been correctly described as a failure of government to create economic conditions wherein they can fund their operations by taxing current economic activity. Taxes on wealth repeatedly tax the results and outcomes of past economic activity upon which income taxes have already been paid.

If government policy failures have resulted in conditions in which housing is in short supply, why should the burden of addressing that supply fall solely upon those who own vacation homes and second properties?

Perhaps government should be addressing the inadequacy of their governance that has resulted in short supply of housing rather than penalizing the successful or confiscating the use of their assets.

Rob Angus

Victoria

Proper regulation needed for social work

Re: “Calls for better social worker regulation after imposter sentenced to 5 years,” July 27.

I was highly dismayed to read this story about a social worker who forged a degree to get a government job and stole money intended to support clients. I applaud the efforts of the B.C. Association of Social Workers to advocate for the proper regulation of the profession and I am surprised this seems not to have happened long since.

Achieving change may not be an easy task, as I recall from my experience in Ontario, where I lived for more than 40 years and was heavily involved in the work of the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW).

When OASW was founded in 1964, efforts began almost immediately to have social work recognized in provincial law. Forty years ago an OASW annual meeting motion was passed to create a voluntary self-regulatory college.

Ten years later, the voluntary college separated from OASW. In 1998, through dogged perseverance, OASW finally achieved Royal Assent of the Social Work and Social Service Work Act and with it the creation of the present regulatory college.

Working through six provincial premiers representing three political parties, the 34-year effort to achieve legislation to protect the public and the title of social worker tested the patience and tenacity of the many social workers who were involved in this longstanding advocacy process, the details of which are too numerous to recount in this letter.

Advocacy is one of the hallmarks of social work. I wish the BCASW well in its efforts to advocate for the profession and hope the desired results will be obtained in a timely fashion.

The lives of vulnerable people are at stake, not to mention the reputation of the profession of social work.

Gary Davies

Sidney

Get all medical care together in one spot

With no family doctor, I am frustrated that the governments, health authorities and medical professionals cannot work together to find solutions.

Here are my ideas: Bring all the medical services such as family doctors, pharmacists, diagnostics, laboratories and specialists under one roof, use existing government buildings. Imagine an entire floor of family doctors, experienced, new graduates, internationally trained plus nurse practitioners.

Each floor could have an administrative office with support staff. How convenient for patients.

One set of electronic medical records that is accessible to all medical professionals and their patients. Upgrade to electronic everything for clinics — time for the fax machine to go to recycling. Utilize online booking systems for appointments and create call centres, if necessary to triage patients for appointments with the right medical professional.

Do away with re-referrals for specialists when patients have chronic conditions and ongoing appointments.

Make better use of pharmacists. They should all work at their full scope of practice across Canada, just like in other countries. They can diagnose and prescribe for a wide range of conditions, manage and adjust medications and provide vaccinations.

It is time to take pharmacists out from the back of retail stores and recognize them as valuable medical professionals working in clinics and hospitals. Look online at pharmacists.ca to see how the different provinces unfairly restrict pharmacists.

We already pay fees at dentists, chiropractors and physiotherapists, so bring in a small fee per visit to help cover costs, reimbursed or waived for low-income earners.

Vicky Thomas

Saanich

Dried sewage biosolids still being spread

The Capital Regional District’s June biosolids disposal report indicates that the CRD’s inability to follow its own safe disposal plan for toxic biosolids continues.

For the first half of this year, just 422 tons of the 1,620 tons of biosolids produced at the Hartland plant from dewatered sewage was delivered to the Lafarge Cement Plant for use as fuel, as per the CRD’s disposal plan.

This means that 74 per cent of the region’s dried sewage biosolids were spread at the Hartland landfill, posing a potential threat to workers, residents and users of nearby recreational areas, and putting at risk sensitive watersheds.

It is time that politicians seeking election this fall spoke up and held the CRD to account for its failure to follow its own announced disposal plan.

Hugh Stephens, vice-chair

Mount Work Coalition

Stop, look both ways before crossing a road

Re: “Drivers, slow down and save some money,” letter, July 16.

While I agree with the writer about the need for drivers to just chill out and slow down, there’s more to it than that. Lowering speed limits may or may not help.

What is really needed is more driver and pedestrian education. Where have all the police gone with their radar guns that we used to see all the time? I’ve only seen one in the past six months.

But equally as important, it behooves all pedestrians to be more alert when crossing the road. How many times does one see someone walking in a crosswalk with their heads down looking at their phone?

It seems the only time they look up is when something or someone is directly in front of them. And that doesn’t include the ones with headphones/earbuds who equally oblivious to vehicles honking their horns or emergency vehicles racing past.

When was the last time you saw a pedestrian do a shoulder check before crossing a busy four-way road? I’m betting rarely.

We’ve all seen the commercials that ICBC put out about getting drivers to put down their cellphones when driving. But I’ve yet to see one on getting pedestrians to put their cellphones down before walking through a crosswalk.

My parents always instilled in both my brother and I to stop and look both ways before crossing a road and to wait until that vehicle came to a stop before actually entering that crosswalk.

That edict seems to have fallen by the wayside these days. With the amount of traffic on the roads these days, it’s only going to get far worse.

Maybe it’s time to bring back that common-sense edict again for all our sakes.

Al Deacon

Victoria

Council’s priority should be to clean the city

Regarding the plans to extend the pedestrian space on Government Street, I can’t help wonder why the city is spending more money to “improve spaces” and welcome people downtown when they don’t seem to care for its overall appearance.

I love downtown and go frequently either by foot, bike or car. In fact, I recently ate dinner at new sidewalk patio on Fort Street.

However, I can’t help but notice that since 2020, the streets are filthy. Garbage is strewn everywhere, including around the few garbage bins, bird poop stains the sidewalks in the summer when it doesn’t get rained off, and cigarette butts lie in waste in gutters, and the smell of pot is everywhere.

It is an embarrassment when I think about how many people from around the world come to Victoria as tourists and see how filthy our city is, and it is a deterrent to locals who think downtown is dirty.

Victoria used to be such a clean city, and I wouldn’t say that anymore. Rather than spending money on building new spaces, we need to care for what we have.

I’d like to see city council spending more of their budget on regular garbage pickup throughout the day and pay people to clean up the streets, sidewalks and other public spaces so we can be proud of our city that was once known as beautiful, clean and safe Victoria.

Mary Lue Emmerson

Victoria

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