We’re not OK, Ms. Latham



Re: “VCH committed to Trellis contract” (Nov. 8) and “Gerry Latham hired as VCH director” (Nov. 15).

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Following the collapse of negotiations between Trellis and the Sechelt Indian Band, advocates for the Silverstone project have taken a new approach. Their main talking point seems to be that the continuing harm of the NDP’s attempt to privatize long-term care is mitigated by the government’s expanded commitment to home care.

According to MLA Nicholas Simons, “[The province] has invested heavily in programs designed to allow more seniors to age in place, which should improve quality of life and lighten the pressure on facilities.” Gerry Latham, the new Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) director for the Sunshine Coast, goes so far as to say that, “Between [home care] strategies and the extra beds in-house, I think we’re OK right now.”

With all respect, Ms. Latham, we’re not OK, we’re in crisis. The chronic shortage of home care aides means that eligible clients are being turned away and only those in dire need are getting assistance. Most receive fewer hours per week than they are entitled to. Patients are being kept in hospital beyond their scheduled discharge dates simply because home support is unavailable.

Offering financial incentives for students in the Capilano health care assistant program is an important first step, but much, much more will be needed to resolve the interrelated crises in home, long-term and acute care that successive Liberal and NDP governments have allowed to fester in our community.

We would not be in the mess we’re in if VCH and the Ministry of Health had honoured their mandates to base decisions on consultation with stakeholders. To date, the ministry and VCH have done nothing to change their high-handed approach. I welcome Ms. Latham to her new position and hope she makes community consultation a key principle of her term of office.

Ian McLatchie, Media Liaison, Protect Public Health Care – Sunshine Coast

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