Health Watch concerned with services, not politics

Re: ‘Health Watch continues anti-Liberal crusade’ (Letter to the Editor, Feb. 17.)

Re: ‘Health Watch continues anti-Liberal crusade’ (Letter to the Editor, Feb. 17.)

As the former president of Castlegar & District Health Watch, although no longer its official voice, I need to put forward some facts that may conflict with the beliefs Keith Campbell expresses in his letter.

The Liberals were in power when Health Watch was formed and have been in power ever since, so, of course, they get blamed for service cuts effected by the health authorities they created.

Many supporters of Health Watch were probably Liberal voters, although they were never asked about their political affiliations. But they included local businesses, municipal politicians, the Chamber of Commerce, and even the Liberal candidate in the last election.

Health Watch has six purposes, set out in its constitution, none of which refer to an “anti-Liberal crusade.”

a) To support the principles [that] medicare … be publicly administered, comprehensive, universal, portable and accessible. Of these, the Interior Health Authority (read government) has violated most clearly the last. The closure of facilities and removal of services to more and more distant locations has severely impacted accessibility. Especially affected are the poor, elderly, sick or disabled who have transportation issues.

b) To advocate for the continuation and enhancement of health services in our community. Those include ultrasound.

c) To demand accountability on the state of health services … from the health authority and [all levels of] governments. Health authorities are public bodies, but are reluctant to provide any public accountability. Until there was a public uproar, no explanation for the proposed removal of the Castlegar ultrasound was offered.

d) To inform and educate the public, the health authority, and … governments about health issues in our community. Health Watch and its affiliate organizations in other communities keep trying to educate the health authority, through a group called Connected Communities, but it’s hard to make anyone listen.

e) To gather information … for the purpose of monitoring all aspects of health service delivery in our community. The difficulty is the health authority treats as secret information that the previous community health council made available at every board meeting. Why should it require a freedom of information application to get bed occupancy statistics? See above paragraph (c).

f) To communicate with other local, regional, provincial and national organizations having similar goals.

The Liberal attitude towards publicly funded health services, apparently shared by Keith Campbell, is based on the principle that they cost too much.

Consider, however, what it would cost us individually and collectively if we did not have them.

Bob Jackson

Castlegar