Letters July 27: Proper pay for family doctors; keep wearing masks

Family doctors deserve better income

As a now 14-year-retired family doctor, I am responding to recent letters on these pages.

For me, general practice was my specialty of choice. It allowed me such privileges that l could not see featured in other careers.

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I was lucky always to be the first medical person to see the patient. I had the training to be reasonably comfortable with a wide range of diagnoses.

Being often amidst three or four generations of the same family, useful perspectives were allowed me. I enjoyed working through the steps necessary to secure a diagnosis, and having been in my medical community for years, knew the specific assets of specialist colleagues to provide help and reassurance when needed.

My greatest pleasure came from putting preventive care measures at the forefront of my obligations. Over time, my patients became not only my friends, but also very special people to my dedicated office staff.

All this came with some costs, as with many hardworking folk. Long hours, baby deliveries, hospital work, medical association commitments and never-ending paperwork. Holidays coverage was often very difficult to arrange. My wife and sons could sure have seen more of me. And the expenses of running the office, the way I chose to do it, cost me more than 50 per cent of my income.

But I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Times have changed, but patient needs have not. Nobody else in medicine does the job of a well-trained family doctor.

Nobody else is interested in, or trained for it, and tragically, our numbers are dwindling. However, family docs are specialists in their own right, and deserve an income that reflects their responsibilities and essential nature.

Otherwise we will not likely attract vital young new doctors, who instead will shun the joys of family medicine, as joy is simply now not enough … it would seem. And rightly so.

Neil Finnie, MD

Young front-line staff are still at risk

We vaccinated people in B.C. mostly based on age, with the oldest first. Then we removed the requirement for people to wear masks in stores, despite most young front-line workers not being fully vaccinated yet.

Shame on the provincial government for putting at risk young front-line retail workers who weren’t able to be fully vaccinated, and who are usually too poor to be able to refuse to work.

I own a small local retail business and am protecting my staff by requiring that all customers wear masks until all my staff are fully vaccinated. Customers who can’t or won’t wear a mask have the option of being served outside. I encourage all businesses to do what the provincial government won’t do right now, and protect young front-line workers.

Steven Hurdle

Enforce mask rule until we are protected

British Columbians deserve an explanation for the haste with which the John Horgan government removed the mask mandate initially imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

On July 1, when restrictions lifted, we knew the more transmissible Delta variant continued to circulate in the province, we knew a single shot of the most efficacious mRNA vaccines only offers 33 per cent protection against the Delta variant, we knew fully vaccinated British Columbians accounted for less than 30 per cent of the population (a lower number when considering full immunity requires two weeks to develop), and we knew wearing masks and practising social distancing offers the best measures (short of vaccination) to prevent illness.

With ever-evolving knowledge of the full consequences of the disease including long-COVID, the NDP government chose to place millions at risk and we now see the all too predictable number of infections climbing.

Mask mandates have little impact on a re-opening economy, if anything, fewer sick people improves economic output. It cannot be overstated: the government’s frivolous decision once again placed precariously paid front-line workers most at risk.

The decision also affected people like myself who booked a shot as soon as I became eligible, yet who will not have full immunity until early August, more than a month after restrictions lifted.

If we respect the decision of some to remain unvaccinated, surely the province could respect the safety of “the responsible” by enforcing masking until such time as all those willing are fully vaccinated and protected.

Tara Speirs

Put Clover Point back to the old way

Living in the Fairfield area of Victoria for more than 50 years, visits to Clover Point have been many.

Visiting this beautiful part of Victoria often recently, it was noticed the picnic tables and benches were never used. It was either too windy, too hot or too cold to sit and watch the great view to the west.

Forced to use the east driveway and make a turnaround has been very difficult especially when traffic builds up behind you. Let’s put it back like it was so we can enjoy the views and winter storms from our vehicles.

Al Clark

Cyclists should get tickets as well

I was glad to read recently that Oak Bay police are going to ticket cyclists who blow through stop signs without even slowing down, much less stopping.

Too many cyclists already ride through crosswalks while people are crossing and recently, Steve Wallace seemed to suggest that cyclists wanting to avoid waiting for traffic at an intersection should be able to just ride across the crosswalk as if they were a pedestrian, not a vehicle.

The belief seems to be that cyclists should not have to slow down much less stop for much of anything, as if they are a unique and uncontrollable mode of transportation, unlicensed and largely unaccountable for their actions.

It’s about time that adult cyclists who refuse to obey the rules of the road be held accountable, if for no other reason than that children who follow their poor example risk ending up dead or seriously injured.

Elizabeth Causton

Hey, you on the e-bike, get off the trails

Enough already! No more motorbikes on the Galloping Goose, Lochside or park trails. Whether electric or gas, it’s a motorbike.

The trails (and nature) were never designed nor intended for motor vehicle traffic.

Unless your disability warrants usage of a scooter or wheelchair on the trails, use your e-bikes, e-skateboards and e-unicycles on the roads.

Bonnie Reszel

Clinically vulnerable still waiting for vaccines

While I applaud Island Health’s initiative to make the COVID vaccine more accessible to those who remain unvaccinated, I am frustrated and frankly at a loss to understand why this program is in place while hundreds of vulnerable people in the region are still awaiting their first dose through home care.

My adult son is developmentally disabled and in March was identified by the province as clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19, and in April went for his first dose.

The chaos and unfamiliarity of the public clinic was overwhelming for him and staff were not able to administer his vaccine, and instead recommended arranging for home care to come to his residence and vaccinate him in the calmer, more familiar environment.

Since that time it has been left to me to determine how to access that service, follow up with multiple calls to Island Health, our local health unit, and the COVID-19 main line, and as of today, my son has yet to receive a first dose.

I was told by the COVID centre that there are thousands of people in the Victoria region waiting for vaccinations through home care, and that all we can do is wait.

I am therefore outraged to read about the Vax Van program, which is essentially prioritizing people who have been “dragging their feet” and “haven’t gotten around to it” over citizens who the Ministry of Health itself has identified as clinically vulnerable.

Laurel Duruisseau

Quamichan Lake is not the answer

Moving Canadian rowers to Quamichan Lake will kill rowing excellence in Canada. This plan was poorly conceived by coaches and administrators while ignoring a basic principle and athletes’ needs.

Yes, being on a lake in an isolated location gives a coach an ideal setting with few distractions, but there is a fundamental problem that has not been considered.

Firstly, in order to expand the data base by attracting talented athletes to the sport of rowing, a rowing facility needs to be in a city with a university and secondary schools in close proximity. Then these rowing role models, through training, attract students to the sport. Often these prospects are from other sports such as basketball and hockey who might never have considered rowing if they hadn’t seen it in action.

Secondly, athletes at this level often have partners, sometimes families. Quite often both the rower and partner are still in university or employed. They cannot afford to move away from their resources and income. While these guys and gals are exceptional, they are also human. To do their best rowing, they need other diversions in their lives, too.

Sadly, isolating the team on Quamichan Lake will simply remove the possibility of attracting gifted athletes to our incredible sport of rowing.

Marilyn Copland


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