What would Mr. Ed have to say about these things?  |  George Le Masurier photo

The Week: North Island health care privatization marches on

Apr 12, 2019 | Commentary, News

By George Le Masurier

Good Morning. Whether you woke up in one of the worst cities for business and dangerous for crime … supposedly (Courtenay), one of the worst for recognizing heritage (Comox, for sure) or the only community that has banned plastic bags (Cumberland), it’s looks like another great day to live in the Comox Valley.

But first, let’s praise the Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital Board for finally standing up to Island Health’s steady march toward privatization of health care.

Stop health care privatization

Decafnation has documented the folly of public private partnerships (known as P3s) in health care by the problems that policy has caused at the Comox Valley Hospital. But Island Health loves to hand over essential health care services to private contractors, and this time they’re aiming at the North Island’s last remaining pathology laboratory.

Island Health wants to close down clinical pathology services at the Campbell River Hospital and outsource them to a private corporation in Victoria. Clinical pathology services at the Comox Valley Hospital will continue into next year, but only as part of an agreement when St. Joe’s Hospital closed. There is no guarantee Island Health won’t try to close them when the agreement terminates.

The real story goes back to the formation of the Victoria pathologists’ corporation (VICPCC). Prior to that, all Island Health pathologists were employees (a few may have incorporated as separate individuals).

Some Victoria-based pathologists own this corporation together, and many of the rest of the island pathologists (except Campbell River, for now) are partially or fully employed or contracted by the corporation.

Information about the corporation and details of its contract with Island Health are not readily available. A Campbell River reporter tried to get this information, but Island Health abruptly cancelled a scheduled interview and has stonewalled him ever since.

Our sources estimate that VICPCC’s contract with Island Health would probably be worth nearly $10 million per year.

It isn’t right that such a huge amount of public health care money is going to such an opaque entity that apparently decides where and how to deliver services to north Island residents.

When it comes to health care services, non-Victoria areas always seem to lose out in favour of centralization to the capital city. Island Health usually claims this provides “higher quality” services, but they never share any evidence to support that assertion.

Courtenay business woes?

The politically conservative Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses looked through some data at its Toronto headquarters and decided the City of Courtenay is bad for business.

No one visited Courtenay, talked to any business owners or elected officials or business organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce. They used data.

This is not unlike how Maclean’s magazine decided last year that Courtenay was one of the most dangerous places to live in Canada.

These data-based surveys are baloney. They’re designed as marketing devices to boost subscriptions or memberships in an organization. Naive local media pick them up because it’s a spoon-fed story.

People should stop reading them, writing about them and giving them any attention.

Heritage interference by AG?

Has there been some hanky-panky going on at the BC Attorney General’s office about the Mack Laing Trust?

When some Shakesides supporters started investigating a pathway to heritage designation that doesn’t require any input from the local government, apparently alarms bells went off at the BC Attorney General’s office. The AG has supported the town’s petition to demolish the house.

And that caused a high-ranking Heritage Branch official to say he could not give information to the local citizens because the AG’s office had allegedly told the branch not to discuss Mack Laing with anybody. In other words, a gag order.

This sounds clearly like a backdoor attempt to thwart a legitimate citizen initiative. Obviously, the AG doesn’t want Shakesides to get a heritage designation because that could help sink their leaky argument to tear the building down.

But how is it ethical for the Attorney General’s office, which is supposed to defend public trusts, to pressure another BC government branch into deny a citizen’s access to information?

Earth Day v. Plastic Bags

We’re celebrating Earth Day on April 22 this year, which would be a great time for Courtenay and Comox to announce that they are following Cumberland’s lead and ban single-use plastic bags.



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