On June 12th, COSCO hosted a virtual meeting of our affiliate delegates and our associate members, to have
a conversation with Jim Sinclair, Board Chair of Fraser Health and a long-time friend of our
organization. The discussion was lively and, as always, Jim was forthright in his answers to our
questions. Times being what they are, much of the discussion was concerning COVID-19, but other topics
were discussed as well.
Here are some of the points that were raised:
* The system of senior care, including long-term care, has been flawed for years in British Columbia.
* The money put into senior care should go to patient needs not to real estate or mortgage payments by
private owners. Some of the profits are truly amazing.
* There needs to be much better oversight of every care facility. It’s not just ‘them’, it’s ‘us’. Government
is guilty of lack of awareness but so is society in general.
* The question of whether private ownership of facilities should be forbidden is complicated by the fact
that the government has signed contracts that it does not want to break. However, it looks as though
new ones may not be opened. We want a buy-back plan.
* We need to have a national discussion of long-term care standards. The provincial government needs to
discuss what we have learned so far and use that knowledge to go forward in an informed and careful
way. Senior care should be in the Canada Health Act.
* Government decisions made in the early 2000s resulted in the loss of 2,000 beds, which made public
beds scarce. Private companies filled the gap.
* In terms of staffing it is often done by casual workers so that the employer doesn’t have to provide
benefits. Staff needs to have proper training and they should not need to take several jobs in order to
get enough money to live on. There are between 1,500 and 2,000 foreign nurses waiting to get
certified in B.C.
* We should not need to rely on other countries to supply Personal Protective Equipment. We have the
capability to make our own.
* Turning to other matters, Jim said that, in order to have a viable national pharmacare program, Canada
needs to produce medications. In his opinion, now is the time to push for the other measures that were
built into the 1967 medicare agreement.
* Home support would enable many seniors to stay at home and now is the time to plan measures to
achieve that goal. Community health care clinics are being opened and they are providing a good care
model which needs to be strengthened.
In closing, Jim thanked COSCO for the work it does for seniors. We are grateful for his advice and
encouraged by his devotion to the well-being of seniors.
Submitted by Annette O’Connor and Albert Lemonnier