Letters Nov. 25: Praise for Isobel Mackenzie; shutdown damage; Victoria byelection

High praise for Isobel Mackenzie

Re: “Rapid testing of staff in care homes makes sense: seniors advocate,” Nov 22.

Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix have rightfully received accolades for their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, but B.C.’s senior’s watchdog Isobel Mackenzie has long deserved similar recognition for her work on behalf of seniors.

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With two-thirds of the deaths to date occurring in long-term care and to a population that is of greatest risk, her suggestion to use rapid testing for all staff makes sense.

I once attended an event where Mackenzie spoke and she impressed me with her command of statistics to make the case for her recommendations.

Considering the large number of ­seniors in B.C., the senior’s watchdog position is extremely important and ­Mackenzie has been doing an outstanding job.

Wayne Cox

Restrictions in seniors’ homes

My wife and I live in a seniors facility in Victoria that has independent and assisted living residents.

We are grateful for the hard work that Dr. Bonnie Henry and Island Health are doing to control the spread of COVID‑19 but disappointed that our voices as expressed by the seniors advocate, Isobel Mackenzie, in her report are getting so little attention.

No one else is making a serious effort to find out what we think.

The report about her suggestion of testing staff at seniors facilities being panned prompted me to write this.

We are fortunate to have dedicated staff in our facility but note that many of them are part-time and have other jobs. That increases the risk of infection and makes Mackenzie’s proposal of rapid testing seem well worth considering for staff and visitors.

The number of different staff who work in our facility has also increased during the pandemic, adding to the need for testing.

The restrictions that are in place here, closing the dining room, limiting activities to small numbers plus extra spacing and wearing masks that make social communication nearly impossible.

They are doing less to control the virus than testing those who come to work here would do.

Those restrictions on residents are being accepted but the mental cost is high, particularly on singles who end up spending much of the time alone in their rooms.

John McDonald

Damage will be felt for many years

I am a small business owner that offers yoga meditation and wellness programs to the community and have been doing this for nine years.

I am extremely disappointed with the way we have been lumped into fitness activities. We have been following the protocols and operating safely for six months without incident.

We are providing a safe sanctuary for our students to enhance their health and well-being, by calming the nervous system and enhancing immunity. We provide small classes, air purifiers and masks.

It appears that the people who make these decisions know little about what we do and how important we are to those who suffer from anxiety, depression, loneliness and lack of connection with others.

Improving mobility and reducing pain are some of the many benefits of yoga. Practising yoga can save the health-care system money as people empower themselves to take care of their health.

The damage that these restrictions cause will be felt for years, the fallout from the small businesses that can’t survive. We have spent the last five months building people’s confidence again as they somehow believe that yoga is risky.

What is risky is shutting down access to wellness and preventive health.

Who is going to pay my staff, my rent and cover the losses that I have incurred over the past nine months? This will be another blow.

You are sitting in an ivory tower, well paid, with job security. You really cannot know what it is like to want to serve the community in a healthy way and do that at great financial peril.

I am so sorry that the pandemic has hit long-term care so hard. That is unacceptable and surely there must be better ways of protecting seniors.

Deborah Carruthers
Harmony Yoga Center

Public does not always cooperate

Re: “Canada’s public health efforts have been inadequate,” commentary, Nov. 24.

Although the author did a fair job of clarifying issues such as the difference between aerosols and large droplet spread of COVID-19 and the decreased contact spread of the virus, he used Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix as scapegoats and accused them of not doing enough.

Public health is just that. The measures are only as good as how the public implements them.

COVID containment relies on many variables and as a novel virus, new information is constantly being studied and confirmed. It is excellent that public health is able to modify regulations in response to validated new information instead of remaining static.

Let’s recognize what a great job public health is doing instead of pointing at them because the public is not always cooperating.

Fern Davey
North Saanich

Bars can stay open, but churches cannot

Re: “Health officials try to clear up confusion over virus restrictions,” Nov. 24.

My wife and I agree with Archbishop J. Michael Miller that, “the church finds it baffling that they are being asked to close while restaurants and bars can remain open.” In our opinion, this is excessive and punishing to us alone. We, too, find it “baffling.”

If one church violated the COVID-19 health restrictions at a wedding which caused the spread of the virus, then it would seem fair to direct this punishment toward that one church if they failed to follow the necessary protocols.

James and Carla Fretwell

Learn about council, and vote on Dec. 12

Victoria council members are spending their time on frivolous items, driving their own agenda as opposed to running the city with taxpayer dollars.

I encourage citizens to listen to audio of councillors Sharmarke Dubow and Sarah Potts, who recently questioned Victoria Police Chief Del Manak.

Their line of questioning demonstrates the councillors’ lack of effort to understand basic police department-city-provincial laws and communications. Wasting valuable time with city staff and our top cop, their questions demonstrate ignorance and at best misguided priorities for which they were not elected to govern on.

We need a common sense, pragmatic approach to run our great city. Learn what current councillors and prospective councillors stand for. Educate yourselves, share with others and get out and vote Dec. 12!

Jeff Peters

Investigate actions in Beacon Hill Park

I was in Beacon Hill Park Friday and witnessed the destruction and dismantling of the community care tent and the showers which had been built by volunteers.

It was a massive action, undertaken with police backup, without the customary 72 hours’ notice before removal of belongings, and without consultation with city council. Council was in fact engaged, through Coun. Sarah Potts, in ongoing dialogue with the tent organizers to find a resolution to the issue.

How is it that Bylaw Services can act on such a sensitive issue without consulting with council and without any consideration of initiatives council might be taking? Surely a decision of this magnitude has to be made in consultation with council. We mustn’t allow enforcement to become superior in authority to the body elected by citizenry to run the city.

Friday’s action warrants an investigation of procedures and immediate and effective changes.

I believe that a miscarriage of power took place on Friday morning and we must not let it happen again.

Kathie Putt

Put solutions ahead of slogans

Several Islander section articles on Nov. 22 focused around common themes.

Lawrie McFarlane wrestles with the options available to the B.C. Liberal Party after their decline in the 2020 provincial election, at a time when COVID-19-traumatized voters are not likely to respond to standard right-wing policies of smaller government and lower taxes.

Geoff Johnson focuses on how children feel increasingly vulnerable, including in part because they “are in control of nothing” during COVID. Johnson notes that the Raising Canada 2020 report suggests that with the right kind of adult support, children can be included in turning things around.

Charla Huber notes it is important to help all people feel connected to their society. A crucial aspect is for them to know their history and where they come from – people really need to know their whole story.

Trevor Hancock argues that while “the impacts of human action are global … the vast majority of those actions are local.” So the solutions have to be local, too. Scotland’s leadership in working locally on global issues like climate and community benefits from a 2007 National Performance Framework.

B.C.’s population and economy are similar to Scotland’s, so what’s stopping us from creating something similar?

Let’s name the issues that we need to control to create and maintain health and prosperity that serve all of us — regardless of age/ ethnicity/ wealth — ahead of focusing on ideological slogans in developing policy and assigning program spending priorities.

I read it in Islander.

D.M. Driedger


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