Forum to focus on long-term care

Protect Public Health Care Sunshine Coast

Protect Public Health Care Sunshine Coast, a coalition opposed to Vancouver Coastal Health’s (VCH) plan to close Totem Lodge and Shorncliffe and enter into a contract with a private long-term care provider, is hosting a public forum Saturday, Jan. 28.

The group is bringing in Dr. Margaret McGregor, a UBC researcher specializing in health service delivery outcomes in the frail elderly population, and Jennifer Whiteside from the Hospital Employees Union for what’s being billed as “a discussion on the importance of maintaining public ownership of seniors’ care on the Sunshine Coast.”

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“The ultimate purpose of the forum is to create the possibility of a dialogue, because that is what has been taken away by VCH in the way this deal was handled from the outset,” said Ian McLatchie of Protect Public Health Care. “The community, every step of the way, has been excluded from this very important decision.”

Hal Wake, a former CBC host and current artistic director of the Vancouver Writers Festival, will moderate. McLatchie said people attending the forum will get to have their voices heard as well.

The future of long-term care on the Sunshine Coast is expected to be an issue in the coming provincial election, and all three confirmed candidates for Powell River-Sunshine Coast – NDP MLA Nicholas Simons, Kim Darwin of the Greens, and Liberal Mathew Wilson – have indicated they plan to attend the forum.

The event follows close on the heels of the launch of a new campaign from BC Care Providers Association, the group representing most of the private long-term care operators in the province.

The association’s plan calls for the province to commit to $337 million in annual funding over the next five years. It also wants to see $100 million of federal and provincial infrastructure money directed to “renewal and replacement of aging care homes across B.C.” and the creation of so-called care credits, which would “allow seniors to choose their own care provider.”

The forum takes place from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the shíshálh Nation Community Hall.

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