(This letter to Health Minister Adrian Dix was copied to Coast Reporter.)
Dear Mr. Dix:
We, the affiliated members of the Sunshine Coast Labour Council, object in the strongest possible terms to your decision to bring private-for-profit health care to our community. We approach you as representatives of the working people of our community, and our province. Many of us are NDP members, and most of us supported the NDP in the recent provincial election. We did so because we believed that your party, Mr. Dix, represented the values we hold dear – social justice, fair wages, and provision of public services for all. You could have stopped the Trellis deal when you became health minister, but you have chosen not to do so. We, your strongest supporters, feel betrayed.
You have given two specific reasons for your decision to allow the Trellis Group to build their private facility in Sechelt. Firstly, you state that, legally, the contract between Trellis and VCH must be honoured. This is not true, in light of the fact that the contract was initiated two years before a deal was reached, and a specific time limit has since expired. You also state that there is an urgent need for long-term care beds to alleviate the bed shortage at Sechelt Hospital. This is indeed true, but the proposed facility will only provide 125 beds, and you plan to close Shorncliffe and Totem Lodge, where 105 beds presently exist. This will be a net gain of 20 beds, not nearly enough to address the bed shortage. We have repeatedly asked, but you have not provided assurance of more than 20 additional beds. Unless there is more to this deal than has been revealed, it makes no sense.
Our community has been extremely vocal in our rejection of the Trellis proposal. Our letters, our petitions, and our requests for meetings were not addressed by the former Liberal government and are not being addressed by you, Mr. Dix. This is not acceptable. The expectation of our community, and the Sunshine Coast Labour Council, is the continuity of publicly owned and operated long-term care, where funding goes to resident care and fair wages, not into the pockets of shareholders. Please reconsider your decision.
Edward Erickson, President, SCLC, Barbara Werk, Vice-President, SCLC