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Letters March 29: Treat politicians like us; the lottery of health care; nothing done after dogs killed cat

A ceremonial ribbon is cut at the opening of the Downtown Victoria Urgent and Primary Care Centre in 2021. One letter-writer who was recently ill says she called the centre relentlessly on a daily basis to make an appointment, but couldn’t even make it into the queue of callers waiting for a response because the phone lines were jammed. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

If only politicians were treated like we are

Not for the first time we are told of a patient being treated for many days in the hallway of a B.C. hospital.

Premier David Eby said that he was “really disappointed that this gentleman had to go through this experience, but to him and to all British Columbians, we will work night and day to make sure that you get the health care that you deserve.”

The concept of any politician or senior bureaucrat working “night and day” is hard to visualize, but perhaps I am being unjust.

While I accept that decision-makers may regret the current situation, I believe that they need a way to understand their constituents’ experience in a way that is less cerebral and more visceral.

To help with this, I suggest that politicians, senior bureaucrats and members of their families share in the average citizen’s health-care experience.

Twenty per cent of them are not allowed to have a family doctor. If patients are being treated in a hospital hallway, then that’s what they get, too.

Don’t use security as a reason why this can’t be done. Start with that’s where they are going to be and then figure out the security.

Their wait time for treatment should be the same as that for the general population.

Need a knee replacement or hip? That’s over a year. Need diagnostic MRI? That could be several months. And so on.

I predict that funds and creative solutions would soon appear.

Alan Newell


When you need health care, you end up in a lottery

For several days last week, I was too ill to work.

Because I have a chronic illness that can become life-threatening quickly, each morning I tried to connect with the Downtown Urgent and Primary Care Centre.

Each day, although I called relentlessly, I couldn’t even make it into the queue of callers waiting for a response — the phone lines were that jammed.

By Sunday evening, I knew I had to visit the ER, and I knew it would be a miserable experience. The first couple of hours involved waiting, tests, waiting — but that’s fine.

A sign in the packed ambulatory ward promised a nurse would check in “shortly” with people who arrived. I’d been there for two hours, and nurses were rushing back and forth, not even making eye contact with people standing at the desk, trying to check in with them.

So I gave up and went home. I tried the urgent care number again the next morning, with the same results.

After five days of trying, a family doctor fitted in a phone chat between his regular patients. He was also kind and helpful.

What about the people who are too ill to persevere, or who don’t have the support of family members and friends?

At the Downtown UPCC, the advice, when I stopped in, was to have multiple members of a household calling from different phone numbers — on the off-chance that one would be successful.

This is a lottery, not a health-care system.

Heidi Tiedemann Darroch


Definition of triage is key to ER care

I had an unfortunate collision during a soccer match on the weekend which led to an emergency room visit at Saanich Peninsula Hospital for stitches and concussion evaluation.

As one might expect these days, the waiting room was packed. The wait was long, but expected, so I didn’t find it very bothersome, almost relaxing.

The staff were constantly bombarded by impatient and irate people demanding to be seen for all manner of seemingly minor and non-emergency ailments, but staff kept their cool and responded with compassion and empathy.

From reception to the nurses to the doctor I saw, everyone was pleasant, upbeat and doing their best. The care I received was top-notch.

Prospective patients might do well to consult the definition of triage before arriving such that their expectations are in line with realities, “the sorting of patients according to the urgency of their need for care.”

Haven’t been seen yet? It’s probably not that urgent and they’ll get to you. Relax and enjoy the downtime, leave the staff alone.

Tony Litke


When a cat was killed, nothing was done

I was distressed to hear about the dog attack at Willows Beach and grateful the offending dog’s owners acted responsibly.

Two months ago, my geriatric cat was killed by an Oak Bay dog on my property. She had been sitting on the doorstep as two large breed dogs were being walked in the alley about 16 feet away.

The attack was vicious and our beloved cat was dead upon arrival at the ER. The dog owner walked away without providing any contact information.

We had no recourse but to call Victoria Animal Control Services and yet, despite witnesses, there were no fines and no muzzle mandate. In the course of the investigation, our family was treated with callousness and disrespect, and we were informed that an alternate narrative was being held up as credible — one in which the victim of this fatal attack (10-year-old, eight-pound cat) was blamed.

I cannot imagine why VACS, for the sake of public safety, chose not to uphold the two bylaws that were violated.

The dogs continue to walk in our neighbourhood. Unmuzzled.

I can only hope that they don’t reoffend. With the potential renewal of the VACS contract in June, perhaps Oak Bay should consider other options for animal control, as Saanich and other municipalities have already done.

Monica Pfau


Turn down the noise at Crystal Gardens

As we approach high school graduation season, noise will once again become a major issue for those of us who live within earshot of Crystal Gardens.

This venue hosts frequent grad parties, with music cranked up to the city’s allowable maximum.

I can understand why a privately-owned venue might be more interested in attracting partiers than showing concern for its neighbours. But for a city-owned venue to harass citizens by playing music at maximum-allowable levels is unconscionable.

It’s time for the city to reduce its maximum noise level, if only at publicly-owned venues.

Bruce Chambers


Sue Big Oil because it’s the biggest polluter

A recent letter asked why B.C. municipalities are considering a lawsuit against fossil fuel companies to recover a share of the billions of dollars in costs resulting from climate change, when other industries are also responsible.

In terms of the volume of greenhouse gas pollution entering the atmosphere, there’s no contest: the oil, gas and coal companies play a far larger role in climate change than the automobile, aviation or other industries. About two-thirds of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere today can be traced back to just 90 fossil fuel and cement manufacturers.

Oil industry scientists warned decades ago that to avoid climate impacts like extreme heat waves, wildfires and flooding, the world needed to move rapidly away from fossil fuels; a 1979 Exxon study estimated that fossil fuel use needed to peak in the 1990s.

Rather than acting on that information, these companies funded and ran misinformation campaigns, lobbied against renewable energy alternatives and worked to keep our society addicted to their products so that they could make massive profits.

The fossil fuel industry continues to put its short-term profits ahead of the safety of our communities.

Lawsuits against tobacco companies played a major role in changing how we view the safety of cigarettes, protecting tax dollars and leading to warning labels and other restrictions on tobacco use.

Solving the climate crisis and keeping our communities safe from the worst impacts of the fossil fuel economy requires similar legal action against Big Oil.

Andrew Gage

Staff lawyer

West Coast Environmental Law

for the Sue Big Oil campaign

It’s easy for addicts, harder for the rest of us

So, British Columbia allows drug addicts free hydromorphone just by placing a palm print on a dispensing machine.

I’m a senior citizen (74 years) and I have to see my doctor in person to obtain a limited amount to control my back pain.

Maybe I’m old fashioned in my thinking process, but I don’t see how this is a fair situation when I need this drug for my own health and not for a curable illness called addiction.

The government needs to help the truly sick or injured citizens, not self-inflicted drug addicts.

Robert Turner


We should stop spending more than we have

To get our country and province back to financial reality, we need to urgently shuffle all of the left-leaning, tree-hugging, free-spending, debt- and carbon tax-loving politicians at every level of government to the sidelines.

Canada’s debt is approaching $2 trillion while B.C. will be, annually, expending $4 billion just to service our ever-expanding debt. Do Canadians really believe we are better off for these out-of-control expenditures?

Much like our prime minister, every time Premier David Eby gets close to a microphone, he announces billions more in spending of borrowed money and, like the feds, has become addicted to carbon taxes.

They are increasing again this year, which they won’t even delay. I think that $2 per litre of gas or diesel is quite enough. And why are we doing this? Are we really saving the planet, with many dozens of countries still burning massive amounts of coal?

In B.C. we have decriminalized serious drugs, brought in so-called catastrophic “safe supply”; overdose deaths are out of control, owning a private residence is no longer sacrosanct, homelessness is at disastrous record numbers, our once wonderous lumber industry is in crisis, and what about amending our Lands Act?

Many of our kids are heading east. These are tragedies brought to you by left-leaning, free-spending politicians at every level.

At our municipal level, property taxes across the province, and particularly in our Capital Regional District, are at record levels, and amongst the highest in Canada. Have you observed your water bill lately? Out of control.

And unless we make changes in Ottawa and Victoria from hard left to reasonable conservative groups who will promise to cut taxes and spending, this province and country are heading for financial and social catastrophes hard to imagine.

H.J. Rice



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