On December 3, 2012, I attended a Council Meeting as a delegate for SOS. We wanted to know about a Steering Committee whose very existence was very “hushhush”, that is, no one would tell us what it was all about.
We wanted to know who had set up the committee, its function, who set the agenda, who chaired it, and who were members.
We learned that IHA had set up the committee. Susan Brown from IHA chaired the meetings, and IHA set the agenda. The members were IHA officials plus representatives from our community, Brad Hope, Jason Earle, and Ed Staples.
The committee’s mandate was to find a longterm solution for Princeton General Hospital. Although a good thing, I pointed out that perhaps it was better to find solutions to the present problems and then concentrate on longterm ones. I further indicated that alternative hospital models already existed and it was not necessary to “reinvent the wheel”. My final request was that minutes of the steering committee be made public, and I was assured that those minutes would be available.
I was later e-mailed and informed that all meetings were “in camera” and therefore no minutes would be released to the public. It makes a person wonder what great secrets are being discussed that everything had to be “in camera” and why our town representatives aren’t more vocal about opposing this.
In my opinion this steering committee lacks integrity. It does not provide transparency, accountability, or communication, and yet it appears to make decisions that affect us all.
A week before Christmas, IHA grandly released the information that it wanted the public to know, namely that a new doctor had been hired: no thanks to IHA or the steering committee. However, here is the clincher; that doctor is not available until August!
So what are we to do in the meantime? Perhaps, IHA hoped that we wouldn’t notice the inconsistencies and that we would blindly accept empty promises. Meanwhile, we continue to work on finding solutions because the hospital problems are still unresolved; in fact, our hospital services have been further downgraded.
Working with IHA has not been a solution. It appears to be their mandate is to dismantle rural health services and centralize. Many people do not seem to understand this.
It is the present government that has created the monster. It is time to look at that government, who has failed to rectify the problem. An election looms in the horizon; it’s time for a change.
M.Masiel, Princeton, BC
P.S. The views expressed in this letter are mine and not necessarily those of SOS