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Ownership matters

Letters

Editor:

In his recently published letter in this paper, B.C. Liberal candidate Mathew Wilson claimed that quality care for seniors is one of his top priorities. If this were true, his characterization of Trellis Seniors’ Services Ltd. would have been far less glowing.

There is no shortage of research – both here in B.C. and other provinces – showing that ownership of residential care facilities affects care quality and staffing levels, and that for-profit residential care is generally inferior to care delivered in public or non-profit facilities.

Sunshine Coast seniors and their families are more than aware of this fact, so it’s no wonder they’re concerned about Vancouver Coastal Health contracting with a for-profit operator like Trellis – a move that was made without any community consultation and against a backdrop of underfunding, privatization and fragmentation of the entire home and community care system that seniors rely on.

For years nurses have been raising the alarm about declining care conditions in residential care facilities and the need for increased staffing levels to ensure that they meet the government-mandated staffing guideline of 3.36 hours of care per senior every day.

The most recent data presented by BC Seniors’ Advocate Isobel Mackenzie show that publicly operated facilities provide 40 per cent more physical therapy hours and nearly double the occupational therapy hours of privately operated homes. Privately operated facilities also have 26 per cent more reportable incidents than health authority facilities.

It’s a dismal picture, but one that provides more evidence to help further British Columbians’ call for greater investment in public home and community care facilities and away from for-profit facilities. Wilson’s promotion of Trellis shows that he hasn’t done his homework and that he has no credibility on this file.

The BC Nurses’ Union stands with residents and their families in their fight to save Sechelt’s publicly owned and operated care homes while also ensuring that new seniors’ care services are not contracted to for-profit companies.

Gayle Duteil, President, BC Nurses’ Union

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