Opposition to VCH plan unites under single banner

Long-Term Care

Several groups opposed to Vancouver Coastal Health’s (VCH) plan for the future of long-term care on the Sunshine Coast are banding together.

COSCO, the Sunshine Coast Labour Council, Alliance for Democracy, the BC Nurses Union, and the Health Employees Union have formed “Protect Public Health Care – Sunshine Coast.”

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There’s been vocal opposition from several quarters since VCH announced June 1 that it would be closing Shorncliffe and Totem Lodge in 2018 and entering into a deal with Trellis Seniors Services to build and operate a facility in Sechelt to replace them.

Ray Haynes of COSCO speaks for the newly formed group, and he told Coast Reporter this week, “They’re [VCH] not even trying to sell this [idea] to the people. I think they’ve given up – they’re just pushing it through and that’s all there is to it. So we felt that we’ve got to heat it up, and the best way to do that is try to involve more groups.”

Bringing together the various groups is also serving to broaden the debate beyond the main flashpoint of public versus private health care.

“While we are very concerned about the switch from public health [care] to private, for-profit health [care], let’s not get our eyes off the problem of the disruption this is going to cause for seniors and workers here on the Sunshine Coast,” Haynes said.  “There’s no gain, hardly at all, in the number of beds. It still doesn’t solve the problem … Did they look at every possible approach to this thing?”

Protect Public Health Care – Sunshine Coast has just launched its Facebook page, and hopes to follow soon with a website. Haynes said they’ll also be more visible around the community, taking their petition against the project into the malls and organizing some large rallies and protests.

“Maybe Vancouver Coastal Health will finally get the message.”

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