The lobby group Protect Public Health Care - Sunshine Coast (PPHC) says it’s distressed by MLA Nicholas Simons’ “muted” opposition to privatized health care since the NDP formed government.
PPHC was formed in 2016 to oppose a deal between Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) and Trellis Seniors Services to build a new long-term care facility to be operated by Trellis under contract. The VCH plan also called for the existing publicly owned facilities, Shorncliffe and Totem Lodge, to be closed.
In a press release accompanying an open letter to Simons, dated Nov. 2, the group says, “The Horgan government has withdrawn its long-standing support for publicly funded and operated care and abandoned opposition to a deal involving Trellis Senior Services.
“In the nine months since Health Minister Adrian Dix voiced support for a proposed deal between Trellis and the Sechelt Indian Band, not a single new long-term care space has been created,” the release also said. “Stakeholder groups continue to be shut out of the decision-making process, the fate of Totem Lodge and Shorncliffe remains unclear, and workers have been offered no guarantees on job security or the protection of pensions or benefits. The care crisis that the NDP inherited has only grown worse in its 18 months in office, with no resolution in sight.”
PPHC said it puts responsibility for the crisis in long-term care on the Sunshine Coast on the Ministry of Health and VCH.
It then goes on to criticize Simons for “[going] from being a passionate opponent of all forms of privatized care to at best a timid critic of a proposed deal involving the same private operator whose presence on the Coast he once roundly denounced.”
PPHC said it wants Simons to “renew his opposition to privatized care and to use all the leverage he can muster as a four-term incumbent to bring pressure on his government.”
In a statement to Coast Reporter, Simons said, “I opposed the VCH-Trellis deal from the very beginning ... and [was] disappointed with our government’s conclusion that the project had to continue, but to be fair, I also have to consider how dire the long-term care situation is on the Sunshine Coast because I hear directly from seniors and their families.
“We were successful in getting jobs, wages and benefits protected, which is a major improvement; and the province has made major investments in long-term care so providers can finally meet provincial standards.”
Trellis and the shíshálh Nation are still finalizing the agreement announced in February to build a facility on shíshálh land in Wilson Creek.