This is an incredible story; I suspect there are many who will find it hard to believe the following:
As a result of a medical practice closing on east Vancouver Island and the consequent loss of a family doctor for 2,000 people (including my wife and I) I began to inquire into the nature of just what was going on in heath care in my Province and Country.
After unsatisfactory responses locally and provincially I zeroed in on the Canada Health Act, federal legislation that essentially governs the operation of health care in the country. Although constitutionally health care is provincial and delivered provincially this Act provides the means by which the federal Government gets involved in health care. Through it $40 billion this year is being transferred to the Provinces for health care.
However, the transfer of the money comes with conditions described in the Act and which must be met for the transfer of these funds to occur. They involve five principles:
- Public Administration
It is my contention that with closings of medical practices like the one on Vancouver Island the probability of violations of the conditions of the Act is great. For example, the concept of accessibility (reasonable accessibility is mentioned in the Act) is difficult to maintain when in this specific case the nearest family doctor is in another Regional District (county), some 75 kilometres away and to which there is no public transit. The last Statistics Canada release on doctors in Canada indicated that in 2017, 4.7 million were without a family doctor. Some commentators say it is near 6 million now.
I wrote the Federal Minister of Health seeking a review of the Canada Health Act to a see whether the conditions of the Act are being met in British Columbia. She did not respond but had a division of her department respond, no names, just the Strategic Policy Branch. I replied to the Minister on December 11, 2019 indicating that I expected a written response from her with her signature, that she was the responsible person to me as a citizen and taxpayer, not a person or a branch of her department. She is the elected one, all the others are employees responsible to her. I am waiting a response.
Meanwhile I have tried to enlist the support of local Municipal elected councillors of which there are 12, asking for their written support of this effort.
Only two have responded: the mayor of Parksville and councillor Chandler. No response from any of the five elected representatives in Qualicum Beach. The Mayor of Parksville gave his support and with whom I have had a meeting.
I have contacted my MLA (Michelle Stilwell) and she has responded but has not provided her support. She referred me to the Liberal Health critic whose office bungled an appointment that was suppose to happen between Christmas and New Years.
The local MP for this Federal Riding, Gord Johns, has simply provided automated responses to my letters.
I wrote all 42 Federal MPs for the Province, two of whom are party leaders, the Green Party Leader and the New Democrat leader.
I received eight automated replies and two live replies.
The two live replies were from: MP Brad Vis (Mission-Masqui—Fraser Canyon riding) who referred me to my local MP (whom I cannot contact ) and would do nothing else and MP Paul Manly (Nanaimo Ladysmith riding) who refused to support my efforts but talked about the local efforts that must be made generally on health care.
So two of 12 locally and 10 out of 42 federally, only two of which were live, non automated replies.
So, 16 per cent response locally. And 4.5 per cent federally.
As if to add insult to injury — in my request to the MPs I mentioned whether they could introduce a private member’s bill in Parliament on the issue. MP Manly in his live reply said this:
“In the private members lottery my number came up in the 200s so it is not likely that I will be able to table a private member’s bill during this parliament unless I am able to do it through another method other than my private member’s allocated spot in the order of precedence,” Manly said.
Such is the state of our democracy in our country as I have experienced it.
The University of British Columbia and many of its students, like many other misguided people these days, are practising the highest form of tokenism. The students have pressured the University to divest itself of any investments of its endowment
fund in the fossil fuel industry.
My, my – really style over substance if you ask me.
This move will make so little difference in our climate that such actions are meaningless and demonstrate to the public just how irrelevant many institutions of higher learning are becoming.
Just down the coast from the University is Delta Port where massive piles of coal are assembled for export. One of the largest of its kind on the continent!
Now if the students and
university were really serious about climate and believe, like they do, of the destructive nature of fossil fuels, then what better place to start than standing right next to this gigantic pile of coal and the trains and ships that distribute the stuff.
Isn’t coal the deadliest of all the fossil fuels, according to these people? They could travel the coal trains the hundreds of miles to inland BC to visit the mines. My, they might even to get to know the Province.
Why, they could picket the fossil-fuelled buses that ply the street route from downtown Vancouver to the campus. No, no what did you say? The students ride these buses??? No walking and hiking here. Say, how about those electric bikes with their slave-labour-produced lithium, cobalt batteries?
Sure, the students and the faculty, on their way to Whistler on fossil fuel asphalt roads, could visit the site of the proposed Woodfibre LNG plant which has a license to produce 2 million tons annually of LNG for 40 years. LNG (liquified natural gas) is a fossil fuel that the students and the administration say will doom the planet. And the gas has to travel by pipeline from northeast BC to Squamish disturbing land. Where are the students? Where is the University on this?
Do these students know what is going on outside their campus? Have they become so cloistered that their horizons are campus centric? I thought they were there to learn how to become involved in the larger world – like even their own Province?
Oh! And then there is the massive LNG project at Kitimat. How about $40 Billion – an LNG ship (130,000 to 170,000 cubic meters of LNG ) coming and going every day for 40 years. Up and down the Douglas Channel!
Surely students so concerned about the University investments in fossil fuels must be apocalyptic over this huge fossil fuel project just developing? LNG trains, LNG storage tanks, LNG Marine Terminal, LNG Rail Yard, a pipeline over the pristine land from the BC inland.
Where are the students on projects that they would say really impact climate? Where is the University?
Don’t tell me that the University receives hundreds of million of dollars from the Provincial Government – about $657 million this year. The Province gets some of its revenue from coal mines, gold mines, copper mines, from natural gas being produced and exported around the Province and to the US. How about $2.6 billion of resource revenue this year? And that gas is being produced largely as the result of fracking, a process that the students and the University abhor. And more revenue when the LNG plants go in operation. And, oh, does the University use natural gas in its heating?
What a pretend! What a joke!
This fake divestiture, this false declaration masks a hypocrisy that swallows all their pretences and lays bare a narrative that withers on rational examination.
A Newfoundlander of great influence for the better has passed.
I met John Crosbie first when he was running for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Newfoundland taking on the formidable Joey Smallwood. I became one of his campaign managers.
Later served with him in Frank Moores' cabinet where his influence was important in the issues surrounding The Labrador Linerboard Mill and the purchasing of Brinco interests.
Later John entered federal politics, had a failed attempt (I was a supporter) for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party, but became a highly influential minister in the cabinets of Joe Clarke and Brian Mulroney.
John became a great orator, a skill he acquired after entering politics, a testament to his determination and hard work, qualities for which he became well known.
His support for the Hibernian Project, when it was in trouble, was crucial in obtaining federal equity assistance which saw offshore oil and gas development become a reality earlier than would have been the case.
Like his family, John’s influence on life in his home province was substantial. His wit, intelligence and hard work on behalf of the Province will be remembered.
Hon Brian Peckford is a former premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, now living on Vancouver Island.
I wrote to all 12 elected municipal politicians in Oceanside on Dec. 5 – five in Qualicum Beach and seven in Parksville. I sked for their written support in my efforts to get the Federal Health Minister to review the Canada Health Act to ascertain
whether B.C. is in compliance with the five conditions of the Act. This fiscal year B.C. is receiving $5 billion under this Act. A total of $40 billion is distributed across the country.
This action was triggered by the recent closure of a medical office in our area putting 2,000 people without a family doctor in our Regional District. The closing practice offered a replacement family doctor in another Regional District, 45 kilometres away. There is no public transit to this replacement medical practice.
Given that one of the conditions under the Canada Health Act which determines whether Federal money is provided is reasonable accessibility it is my contention that this provision is being violated. Quite likely the other five provisions are being violated as well.
Only two of the 12 municipal politicians answered my e-mail. In that e-mail I specifically said: “Therefore, I ask that you write me providing that support.”
Councillor Chandler of Parksville thanked me for my involvement but did not provide support.
Mayor Ed Mayne answered providing support and I have had a personal meeting with him. On earlier e-mails on this subject to this Mayor he has answered every one. An earlier e-mail to all councillors was also answered by Councillor Harrison of Qualicum Beach but no response from him on my latest one seeking written support.
I do not think it is too much to ask municipal politicians to answer written questions that a local taxpayer asks of them.
It will be impossible to get improvements to our heath care if we do not band together locally, not for more studies, but to force the senior governments who control the purse strings to examine present arrangements, seek compliance to those arrangements and seek improvements for the future.
According to the Commonwealth Fund, an organization that studies heath systems, Canada is 16th out of 19 OECD Countries in the number of doctors per 1,000 population. Only China, India and Japan have fewer practising physicians.