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Letters Nov. 22: You'll pay for tests and imaging if you're a patient of a de-enrolled MD; bike lanes and Cook St. traffic

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A letter-writer reminds readers that family doctors who are de-enrolled from the Medical Services Plan will charge for services that are covered under MSP. JEFF ROBERSON, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Beware the extra costs from de-enrolled MDs

I am an endocrinologist, working in Victoria for 25 years. Recently I have been affected when I care for patients of “de-enrolled” family physicians.

These are the physicians who no longer receive payment from MSP, rather charging them directly. The following are taken from a government MSP website.

1. Laboratory tests ordered by a de-enrolled physician are not payable by MSP. Patients are responsible for these costs and they are not eligible for reimbursement.

2. Diagnostic imaging ordered by a de-enrolled physician is not payable by MSP. Patients are responsible for these costs and they are not eligible for reimbursement.

3. If a specialist provides service to a patient without referral from (a de-enrolled physician) the physician may submit a claim to MSP for the appropriate family physician visit fee and may also charge the patient a differential fee.

This is not considered “extra billing.” The maximum amount the patient may be charged is the amount payable to the specialist had the patient been referred.

I am pretty sure most patients of the de-enrolled family physicians are not aware of these facts. Their doctors should be informing them of these, not inconsequential, costs that they will be responsible for.

David Miller, MD FRCPC

Victoria

Cook Street is hurting because of blockages

Re: “Unintended consequences in downtown Victoria,” letter, Nov. 18.

I wish to add Cook Street to the list of roads bearing the brunt of the blockages of Wharf, Government and Vancouver streets.

Not only has the closure of Vancouver Street offloaded vehicles to Cook Street, but condo construction at various spots on Cook often lead to closure of lanes, both north and south. Throughout the day, long lines of traffic will be waiting for light after light, emitting.

To add to the frustration and flow of traffic, often there are bikes traversing Cook Street. Wait: Isn’t that what Vancouver Street closure was for? Bikes?

Would it be reasonable to restrict bikes on Cook Street and redirect them to the quiet calm of Vancouver Street?

Tanya Descoteau

Victoria

Eby announcement offering gifts or grift?

Re: “Tallest guy in the room comes bearing gifts,” column, Nov. 18.

Les Leyne gives a full account of David Eby’s ascent to the throne, but the whole thing is summed up in the headline. Except that the headline should have read “New NDP leader continues with taxpayer bribes as the best solution to overwhelming social problems.”

Eby has been a key member of the cabinet for years and must accept that all the unfulfilled promises and neglect of his and previous governments have now come home to roost.

The only member of his team that has actually done her job in the past three years has been Dr. Bonnie Henry, on whose coattails John Horgan gained so much popularity and even went so far as to use it to break a promise/contract he made to gain power in the first place.

A $100 one-time reduction in an electric bill amounts to less than two-thirds of a percentage point to even those of the lowest income, if they in fact even have a place to live with electricity, but will cost the province $320 million.

And $410 for a family earning $43,000 is less than one per cent. Furthermore, what difference will the “sliding scale” amount to a family earning $150,000 a year make, but this time will cost the province $500 million.

But they proudly announce this as “The B.C. Affordability Credit.” It should be labelled “The B.C. Financial Stupidity Act.”

Do they have no idea what $830 million could do to help address some of the problems facing us? Dumping the cost of borrowing the necessary money on future generations hasn’t worked yet, and won’t work this time.

Obviously they’ve never heard the saying that “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome is the height of insanity.”

I’m sure many people could give hints of what to do with the money, but the list is far too long to print in this letter.

Jack Trueman

Brentwood Bay

Rebates will make little real difference

Re: “Premier announces B.C. Hydro rebate, affordability credit,” Nov. 18.

With all due respect to the new premier, I catch myself shaking my head at the announcement immediately following his coronation. I am a professed cynic and look at all these affordability credits with a jaundiced eye.

A hundred-dollar rebate? Once? In an era of ever upwardly spiralling electricity rates? Assuming one million households, and about half that many commercial customers, that means B.C. Hydro/B.C. government will pay upwards of $400 million for a benefit that is so fleeting, it will not make a difference.

If David Eby wants to help B.C. residents with their hydro bills, he could simply extend the tier one cut-off line. That is a permanent, and most importantly helpful action.

A $100 rebate is nothing in the great scheme of things, yet it sucks meaningful dollars away from issues that need it, like health care.

This offering is a cynical ploy where he attempts to buy our gratitude with our own money, to no useful end.

Sorry, I just don’t have the faith.

M.D. (David) Hansen

Victoria

Forget missing middle, reduce all those costs

The missing-middle proposal appears as “good politics,” but this “solution” has obviously not been well researched. Has anyone looked at what the “missing middle” accomplished for Portland, Oregon? There have been fewer than 300 units added in the first year. How will homeowners wade through the municipal bureaucracy, let alone convince banks to finance?

Single-family properties would allow four to six units, causing loss of privacy to neighbours. It will drive up land value causing increased property taxes for everyone.

Increased land cost would drive up multi-family development costs. The thousands of units a year currently being built will diminish dramatically.

Unaffordability is a function of higher interest rates, GST, property transfer taxes and a multitude of municipal fees, charges and demands and risk.

We cannot house our current population, let alone our share of the 1.5 million immigrants the feds have targeted to fill vacant jobs across the country in all areas including heath care, transportation and construction over the next three years.

Canada is already in a housing crisis. To provide housing that is affordable for everyone, municipalities need to change procedures. Official community plans should become documents all can rely on, not just use as guidelines.

If municipalities are unwilling, then the province should pass a bill requiring the OCP as conclusive and only require a development permit. The municipalities should remove community amenity charges on rental development. The province should remove property transfer taxes and the feds should remove GST on new construction.

Doug Foord

Victoria

Affordable housing: There is money for it

Years ago the NDP government of the day created the property transfer tax as a tax on the rich. Over the years it has become one of the biggest cash cows for the general revenue of the government.

If the government would take this money earned from the real estate market and reinvest it back into that market in the form of low income and affordable housing, I think that would be a huge step toward a solution to the problem.

Don Funk

Salt Spring Island

Better than the lotto, something more important

I won the jackpot.

Perhaps you are thinking that I won 6/49, Lotto Max or won big on a scratch ticket? No, I won something much bigger and more important: I got a family doctor. When my previous doctor retired, it became an unrelenting search to find a new one. After several months visiting offices and clinics, and countless phone calls, I got lucky.

After two years my new doctor knows me and my medical history very well. He has been able to identify issues that may have gone unnoticed if I didn’t have a family doctor. He discovered a previously undiagnosed autoimmune disease.

We shouldn’t have to be lucky. We all should have the same opportunity to have a family doctor.

People will die with no medical monitoring from a family doctor. Wouldn’t it cost less with early intervention rather than crisis management?

We all need to speak up to solve this crisis. Everyone deserves my jackpot.

Annemarie Wilson

Saanich

Fight inflation by raising sales tax

Whenever inflation increases, the first and basically only thing done is to raise interest rates. This results in job loss, companies closing, high unemployment and lower government revenues with increased spending to support laid-off workers, etc. This increased interest rate helps banks and few others.

I believe a better way to handle this is to raise the sales tax on all but food and housing. This way consumption will be reduced, thus forcing inflation down, while increasing government revenue and resulting in lower unemployment than the other way.

The pain will be felt more by high-wealth people and less by the folks who live paycheque to paycheque.

The increase in sales tax will increase government revenues or at least not drastically reduce them, which happens when interest rate increases cause major disruption to the economy. It certainly would decrease consumption and can be targeted even more if desired.

I’d like to hear what experts in the field think. I realize this puts pressure on the political system, where interest rate increases are done through the central bank and no politician takes the blame. But it may be better choice for the nation.

Frank Austin

Saanich

Hospital nurses are doing an amazing job

I just spent three days at Victoria General Hospital, the first of which was a long one in the emergency department, where I must have been attended by three doctors and at least five different nurses.

The next two days had me in a ward being tended by too many nurses to count. The hallways outside the ward were jammed with an overflow of patients I could never have imagined.

I don’t know if Adrian Raeside’s recent representation of a nurse arriving at the hospital in fine mood and then leaving looking frazzled is a result of his face-to-face research of the situation, but I can tell you this: Those nurses work their butts off and they’re always smiling.

When I told them I wanted an early discharge, three days in advance of what the doctors wanted, that’s when they got concerned. But, as I told all of them, with the hallways full of people seriously ill, I should get out and try to survive at home.

And that’s the way it is.

T.L. Pedneault-Peasland

Victoria

In the 1960s, we did not have urban deer

Letters to the editor about urban deer in Victoria reveal people’s lack of knowledge and local history. Before the 1960s urban deer in Victoria were unknown, as were cougar sightings.

Vancouver Island with the logging activity provided prime habitat for deer, and populations burgeoned, but wolves, the main predator, were absent.

This imbalance was corrected, and sometime in the 1960s wolves moved in and moved valley to valley pretty much reducing deer populations by 90 per cent in most of the deer areas on Vancouver Island, pushing them into urban areas (like Oak Bay) where they found food and a lack of predators.

The deer numbers skyrocketed to the point deer are seen everywhere. If that is deemed unacceptable, we either initiate a cull or continue seeing deer killed or maimed by vehicles.

I chuckle at decrying “high-powered rifles”; would they like low-powered rifles?

The fact that deer are seen as a problem is a “city” issue, and proof of how far removed we are from recognizing where our food came from. Traditionally, farmers simply shot the deer if they endangered their crops and provided meat for the table.

In the absence of common sense, we spend tens of thousands of tax dollars with “humane” solutions like birth control and haven’t solved the problem … much to our farming grandparents’ amusement, and they ate well on healthy hormone-free venison.

Peter M. Clarke

Victoria

Police officers train to prevent serious harm

Re: “Nuu-chah-nulth ‘devastated’ after officers cleared in fatal shooting near Tofino,” Nov. 18.

Two members of the Nuu-chah-nulth family have been shot and killed in the past year.

I was a police officer for 32 years. Police officers do not go to work wanting to kill someone. They use lethal force to prevent serious harm or death to a person or themselves.

They train for that because taking another person’s life is not normal or natural. We, as Canadians, hope they can follow their training and come home to their loved ones after each shift.

In both cases, the police officer was confronted by a person with a weapon, who displayed intent to harm or kill them. If they had stopped their action and responded to police commands, they would not have died.

When a police officer decides to use lethal force, they have decided to kill the aggressor. Think about the stress they feel when making that decision.

Who could shoot to wound someone trying to kill you, usually within a close distance? Many people attacking can be shot multiple times and still continue to attack and kill.

Judith Sayers, president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, continues to suggest police be trained to wound before they decide to kill.

A vast majority of citizens have enough common sense to see how unreasonable this comment is. Thankfully the police are here and I always hope they can save lives, including their own, when duty calls.

Douglas Oakley

Victoria

Canada’s ranking depends on the list

In Friday’s letters to the editor, a writer noted that Canada has made the list of polluting countries, ranking close to the bottom in the entire world.

According to The Facts Institute, in a global ranking of the worst countries for air pollution, Canada is in the top five best countries for air pollution, behind Finland, New Zealand, Sweden and Iceland.

I guess it depends on which list you look at.

Peter Lutzmann

Saanich

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• 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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