Letters to the Editor for Dec. 10

Letters to the Editor for Dec. 10, featuring letters from MLA Bill Bennett, a 4-H Club update and a hearty thank you.

Letter to the Editor re: Interior Health Authority

On Dec. 3, I met for an hour with the new CEO of the Interior Health Authority, Chris Mazurkewich. Mr. Mazurkewich was in a senior role with the IHA when I was first elected 15 years ago. Back then, the East Kootenay had no regional hospital. We did not have full complements of specialists as we do today and so if you were very sick or very injured, you were at risk from an inadequate system. We did not have all our new specialists, our new Emergency ward, our new Diagnostics Centre or our new Ambulatory Care Centre. And of course we did not have the new ICU that is approaching completion.

In those days, Macleans Magazine did a front page story illustrating how bad rural health care was in Canada and the Cranbrook hospital was featured in the article, not in a nice way. Today in the East Kootenay, we have one of the best rural healthcare systems in the world.

In terms of family doctors, the Canadian Institute for Health Information’s recent physician report showed that in 2014, B.C. added 320 more physicians – for a total of 10,692.  More physicians are coming to rural B.C. – with a 6.6 per cent increase in the number of rural family physicians in the province. B.C. has the best rate of population per full-time GP in the country, at 125 per 100,000.  We continue to work hard on this issue because there are still not enough family doctors.

We are training more new doctors. The NDP did not add a single new medical school space. There were 120 first-year medical training spaces in 1991 – and 120 in 2001 when I was first elected. Today we have 288. In 2014/15, there were 2,441 doctors practicing in rural areas in B.C. compared to 2,260 in 2010/11 – an increase of about 8 per cent, compared to population growth of just 2.1 per cent.

Back in 2001, we also did not have relatively new seniors care homes in all East Kootenay communities of 3000 or more population, as we do today. Seniors benefit the most from an improved acute care system but home & community care is also critically important. In 2013/14, health authorities delivered 8.45 million hours of home support, 21 per cent more than just four years earlier. But we need more to keep patients at home longer.

In comparison with the rest of Canada, B.C. leads in Canada with some of the best health outcomes in the world – with some of the lowest per capita spending. Rated first in Canada according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in June 2014 – the only province to receive ‘A’ grade overall from Conference Board of Canada in May 2013.

This is not to suggest that the healthcare system is perfect. It is not and it never will be. But we are on the right track and with continued commitment to innovation and continued increased funding, healthcare for all citizens, especially seniors, is constantly improving. My personal goals are to get our own MRI at the East Kootenay Regional Hospital, to ensure that we maintain surgery at the Fernie Hospital and to improve home and community care options across the region, especially for seniors.

Bill BennettLocal MLA


Letter to the Editor re: Thank you for food drive help

I just wanted to send out a big thank you to members of BC Ambulance – Fernie station, Fernie Fire Department, Royal Canadian Army and Air Cadets, the Salvation Army and the generous people of Fernie for making this year’s Annual Food Drive a raging success. With so many hands on deck, we were able to collect over two tons of food that will help stock empty kitchens around our community.

If we missed you, donations are always accepted at the Salvation Army and the various other food drives taking place around our community.

Have a safe, warm and wonderful Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.

Carolyn NikodymFernie, B.C.


4-H Club Update

Serica and Shana created a 4-H club to learn about our community and animals.

It is called 4-H because the pledge has 4-H’s: I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, my health for better living, for my club, my community and my country.

On Dec. 12, we have a monthly meeting and Christmas party.

All monthly meetings are at the Mountainside Community Church (MCC). On Jan. 18 we have a monthly meeting, Jan. 31 there is a sheep swine weighing in Grassmere, the time is still to be determined.

On Feb. 9 we have Shrove Tuesday, which is a pancake supper.

The monthly meetings are at 6 p.m. and the Christmas party is at 4 p.m.

The clover buds and the younger group learn about swine, clothing, horses, bicycle safety, goats, dogs and photography.

Ocean Barness 4-H Club Reporter – age 9


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