Letters Feb. 25: Teck’s decision, pandemic preparation, taxi ride with cats

Teck Resources made the right decision

Re: “Teck withdraws application for Frontier mine in Alberta,” Feb. 23.

Congratulations to Teck Resources for cancelling its massive oilsands project in northern Alberta. Premier Jason Kenney (and Alberta) can get down to work and seriously transition to renewables with no reason to threaten Prime Minister Justin Trudeau any longer. Teck also made it easier for our PM. Thanks Teck! Pizza is on the way to your Vancouver office.

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John Vanden Heuvel

Being prepared for a pandemic

As the novel coronavirus spreads to multiple countries, I am sure that all our levels of government are monitoring the steps those regions are taking and refining plans for how to combat the virus should it enter the population here.

I would urge our governments to publish those plans now, to allay concerns, solicit input and ensure that all segments of society are informed as to their responsibilities during a crisis.

Consider the consequences should the virus begin to spread among the residents and staff of a seniors’ residence, or through the city’s street and shelter population. What additional facilities would be opened if our hospitals are full? If medical supplies run low, from where would more be procured (e.g. masks from dentists’ offices or nail salons)?

If we experience, as South Korea has, runs on stores that empty them of supplies, what are the plans for the distribution of food and other necessities? Will apartment building managers be expected to check on renters, take care of pets, etc.?

In case the worst occurs and we experience an ongoing outbreak akin to the 1918 flu, we must be planning now and engaging all citizens and governments in the process.

Chris Darroch

Advance notice that cats will share ride

Re: “Rights tribunal to hear discrimination complaint from blind cab passenger,” Feb. 23.

Graeme McCreath is blind and has made a claim with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal alleging that a taxi driver did not pick him up because he has a guide dog. He has previously unsuccessfully made the same claim against another taxi company in Victoria.

I have two cats and no car, so when I take my cats to the veterinarian, I call a taxi. I always tell the dispatcher that I will be travelling with two cats so that he can send a taxi driver who has no allergies or phobias. I have used both the taxi companies that McCreath says discriminated against him and his dog and have never had any problems getting a taxi with my cats.

This simple act of consideration avoids a “gotcha” situation which may result in being refused a ride. Perhaps McCreath, who as I recall has previously admitted that he does not inform the dispatcher that he will be travelling with his guide dog, would like to explain why he does not do the same.

Ian MacDonell

People suffer because of GP shortage

I am a 57-year-old woman who has lived in B.C. for most of my life. I am a retired registered nurse. For the first time in my life, I find myself without a general practitioner.

My GP closed her practice last year, and now works out of a walk-in clinic. I can only assume she did this to lower the overhead of her medical practice, and perhaps decrease the amount of paperwork and general stress involved in having your own general practice.

I am shocked at the state of health care in B.C. When I entered practice as a registered nurse in the 1980s, living on the Lower Mainland, meeting someone who didn’t have access to a GP was rare. Nowadays, it is commonplace to talk to people who don’t have a GP here in Victoria, or over on the mainland.

I recently had to wait 47 days for a diagnostic test to rule out cancer, which was 47 days that I and my family had to worry about a cancer diagnosis.

There was no GP to send the result of my diagnostic tests to, which is distressing, but it also caused a glitch in the medical system. Who to send the test results to? What happens when there is no primary-care provider managing a patient’s care? Systems begin to break down.

Being sick is hard. Not being able to carry out the simple act of making a doctor appointment to be seen and cared for when you are sick makes being sick so much harder. Please, B.C. government and doctors (and doctors’ associations), work together to resolve this health-care crisis. People are suffering.

Teresa Cederberg

An online visit with a doctor

With the huge shortage of family doctors, those needing the services of a GP should know that there is a free web-based service called Viva Care Telehealth. It allows patients to access a doctor from the comfort of their home with often no wait time (evenings as well).

The appointments covered are general health questions, prescription renewal, lab review/request etc. They also offer counselling. Here is the link: vivacare.ca/telehealth.html.

Shirley Van Dyke

Forestry strike about more than money

Re: “Forestry workers need years to recover,” letter Feb. 22.

The letter-writer fails to understand that the United Steelworkers strike against Western Forest Products was not solely about monetary issues. Our members’ achievements were not a “pyrrhic victory,” as suggested.

The success of our members was in their ability to withstand all the company’s concessionary attacks on their pension, contracting out of their jobs, reduction in vacation entitlement and the erosion of their health and welfare plan, to name some.

Further success came from making good gains in safety language improvements, including the ability to trial safer alternate shifts, and by no longer being discriminated against or terminated summarily by the company’s drug and alcohol policy.

If workers no longer have a job because it was contracted out, are not afforded a second chance by a discriminatory policy, are seriously injured or killed by fatigue-inducing shift work, or have their pension dismantled, the issue of wage loss becomes a distant second.

Even in that distant second, our members set a new standard for wages, benefits and premiums that other United Steelworkers members can count on in setting the pattern for their negotiations.

The concessions the company sought were unwarranted given its strong financial position and market outlook for coastal forest products, entering bargaining. Had members taken the massive concessions being sought (on the table to the very last day), it would have not only devastated our members, it would have set a terrible precedent for the labour movement.

Brian Butler
President, Local 1-1937
United Steelworkers

Spreading biosolids will not end well

Re: “Backlash spreads over easing of biosolids ban at Hartland Landfill,” Feb. 20.

When the minister suggested there are no short-term health effects of doing this, he actually is admitting that there are long-term health effects. (I would argue there are short-term health effects as well.)

First, no level of government does anything short-term. I only need to mention the Blue Bridge or Crystal Pool — we all know what long-term agonizing projects these turned-out to be. The idea of spreading biosolids at Hartland Landfill has already begun to affect our health — at the very least, our mental health.

We would never let a local farmer who sells strawberries spread biosolids on their strawberries even one time because of the known risks of spreading biosolids on food.

Well, guess what? Along comes prevailing westerly winds and all that poop spread around Hartland Landfill is going to be picked-up and dumped not only in my yard, and your yard, but over all our local farmers’ fields.

Maybe the day you decide to drive out to the farms along Oldfield Road to buy fresh strawberries is the day you eat the wind-borne poop and find yourself sick.

I’m sorry the Capital Regional District is running out of time to spend our money, but it should have to face the consequence of not thinking about how to manage this ahead of time. After all, it had three years to come up with a solution.

K.M. Carlson

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