The Week: Island Health takeover for public safety, and Horner’s negative campaign
This week, Island Health took the rare step to assume operational control of the Comox Valley Seniors Village, a privately-owned long-term care facility. Island Health has only taken this dramatic action twice in the past 15 years.
Then, later this week, there was more new. The Hospital Employees’ Union went public with its demands that Island Health take over another seniors care home in Nanaimo. And Island Health revealed that it has ongoing multiple investigations at both the Nanaimo Seniors Village and the Selkirk Seniors Village in Victoria.
There is a common thread here: All three of these facilities are owned by the same private company through a complex arrangement.
The Comox Valley Seniors Village was opened in 2009 by the Canadian company, Retirement Concepts, which was later sold to Anbang, a Chinese insurance company in 2017. Anbang purchased 31 Canadian long-term care facilities through a Canadian holding company, called Cedar Tree. The purchase included seven care homes on Vancouver Island and 24 others in BC, Alberta and Quebec.
But Cedar Tree doesn’t run the facilities. It contracts out the management of all its Anbang holdings to a company called Pacific Reach.
And, as if this wasn’t confusing enough, Pacific Reach is owned by the former owner of Retirement Concepts. Full circle.
— According to a report in the Victoria Times-Colonist this week, a spokesperson for Pacific Reach blames the problems at all three Seniors Village facilities under investigation on industry-wide labour shortages. Jennie Deneka told the newspaper that the company can’t find enough workers.
It’s true. Adequate staffing has been a consistent problem at the CV Seniors Village, and it is one of the main complaints that family members have been relentlessly sending to Island Health for more than six months.
But what Deneka doesn’t say publicly is why the labour shortage affects her company’s facilities more seriously than other care home operators. One probable reason: Comox Valley Seniors Village reportedly pays about $2 to $4 per hour less than other local care homes, such as Glacier View Lodge and The Views at St. Joseph.
But there are other problems at CVSV that have caused workers to quit. In the last year, the facility introduced unpopular shift changes. It essentially fired all its employees and made them reapply for their shifts, although workers were allowed to keep their seniority. For these and other assorted reasons, CVSV staff went on strike last fall to press for better working conditions and more equitable compensation.
It’s just natural that when trained or experienced staff are in short supply, those who pay the least will suffer the most.
— I was checking the city’s online building permits recently — something only a retired newspaper person would do — and noticed that Golden Life hadn’t yet received a building permit for the 120 new long-term care beds and six new hospice units awarded them by Island Health. Golden Life, the Canadian company building new beds on Cliffe Avenue in Courtenay, operates 10 seniors facilities in BC and three in Alberta.
That caught my attention because Island Health promised the beds would open in 2020.
The City of Courtenay told me that Golden Life had just applied for a permit the previous day, eventhough on Sept.16, City Council approved a development permit with variances for the project, which goes by the name Courtenay Oceanfront Developments Ltd.
In general, the development permit deals with form and character elements of the project such as building location, materials, landscaping and access locations.
The building permit, which comes later, ensures the technical elements of the building meet the building code. It also approves site servicing including sanitary sewer, water, and stormwater management. This is also the stage where off-site works such as the intersection upgrade get reviewed and approved.
It’s likely that this building permit approval process could take a month or two because this is a large building requiring multiple complex servicing approvals.
So, if Golden Life doesn’t get started until January, will they still make the 2020 deadline? Stay tuned.
— If you live in the Courtenay-Alberni federal riding and spend any time on Facebook, you might have noticed that Conservative Byron Horner is running an extremely negative campaign against incumbent NDP MP Gord Johns.
In one recent ad, Horner says “Johns could not deliver $1 of discretionary spending for our region,” and “The reality is Mr. Johns has no decision-making authority on any federal spending.”
The first part is simply untrue. Johns’ work on behalf of Canadian veterans, for one example, will certainly benefit the Comox Valley area, which is home to many active and retired military people.
And if the second part of Horner’s attack is true, then it will be doubly true for him. The reality is that Canada might elect a minority Liberal government, and the NDP is most likely to hold the balance of power.
— And speaking of negatives, what exactly did Byron Horner do when he worked for Merrill Lynch in New York as his online bio states? Did he work there in the 2000s when companies like Merrill sold toxic mortgage instruments that took down the global economy? He doesn’t say. But this is something that Horner should clarify for voters.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
The Week: Give us full transparency when paid ‘volunteers’ work with CV students
Faith-based volunteers can contribute positively to the educational experience in our public schools but everyone must be perfectly clear about who they are, what they can and cannot do and school administrators must monitor their activity closely and consistently
What’s dire: the lack of Comox subdivisions or climate change and gradual deforestation?
A Comox Valley developer is suing the Town of Comox because his permits to cut down trees and build more single-family homes haven’t been issued as fast as he’s wanted and because the town wants a wider walking trail through the property
The Week: Ken Grant fined by Elections BC and Parksville confronted by development, water issues
Another Comox Councillor was fined by Elections BC for violating BC elections laws, plus Parksville’s water supply is unable to meet provincial requirements for summer water flow in the Englishman River let alone provide water for a proposed 800-unit development
THE WEEK: As Puntledge River goes lower, Colorado drinking recycled wastewater
A serious fall drought has reduced flows in the Puntledge River, shutting down hydroelectric power generation for the first time in 55 years. Meanwhile, many states eye sending treated wastewater to kitchen taps
THE WEEK: Let the people have a larger voice at Comox Valley council meetings
Making it easier for citizens to speak directly to municipal councils might increase public interest in local government, which in turn might encourage more registered voters to actually cast a ballot
The Week: Comox, Cumberland appointments pass, but no word on Courtenay … yet
Cumberland and Comox municipal councils approve their mayor’s annual appointments, but Courtenay was a no show at its inaugural meeting. Is there conflict behind the scenes?
The Week: Valley councils begin new terms, but will Comox ignore voters?
Dr. Jonathan Kerr topped the polls with voters, but will that resonate at the Comox Town Council as it is poised to approve new Mayor Nicole Minions’ appointments and assignments?
THE WEEK: Water supplies are good, fireworks are bad and where Daniel Arbour lives
Despite the long drought this summer, Comox Valley water system supplies have not been threatened; the BC Wildfire Service has banned fireworks this year and clarifying Daniel Arbour’s place of residence
Let’s put one of the craziest Comox Valley elections into the history book, and then close it
It was weird. But when the sun rose on Oct. 16, Comox Valley voters had made it clear they liked the direction charted by our local governments. In the municipalities, they elected all but two incumbents. In most races, the vote was a definite pat on the back for a job well done.
A few random items as the 2022 election comes to a close
Long-time public official Bronco Moncrief dies, Manno Theos hangs out in Greece, and Daniel Arbour reacts to lies about his campaign finances
Actually, TWO incumbent Comox Valley Federal Representatives are up for re-election. Yes, we are over governed -and who benefits from this? Only those in Government.
Any of the Four major party leaders would do better job than many world leaders today.
So vote for who you chose -the system will grind on.
I am a tad confused as to Phil. G. Harrison’s comment. The only person on his list that is up for election is Gord Johns! I am not sure as to the relevance of the other names. I do however appreciate his ending salvo: Vote, please!
A bit confusing in the Comox Valley-divided once again with 2 electoral boundaries,Both NDP encumbents have been visibly active doing their jobs.Who to vote for? Gord Johns, Edwin Grieve, Bob Wells or John Horgen. Personally I like the way Cumberland operates under Mayor Baird. Apparently my voting station is in Comox-where Mack Laing used to live,I wonder what he would think about all this political stuff -so many boundaries-so many politicians ,and a cannabis store not far from his property that he left for politicians to gnash their teeth over.How could a will be so complicated?
He likely would not vote today, but we all should, despite the apparent messiness of Canadian democracy.
The voter card says where to Vote-so vote,please.