Some things just need to be said...
Saturday, February 26, 2005
The one remaining store that is union, has been found guilty of harrassing employees and has been ordered to cease this behaviour by the Quebec Labour Relations Board.
So why do I have Dieppe, Vimy Ridge, Normandy and Wal-Mart in the same title? The Left Coaster has the connection right here.
The UFCW in BC is currently helping employees that want to join the union at seven Wal-Mart Tire and Lube departments.
Living in the Okanagan we put up with a toll on the Coquihalla highway. Campbell tried to sell this highway to the private sector. He said nothing of this plan when he was running for election in 2001. Will he try again after the election? The Coquihalla highway is a public highway and it is bad enough paying a toll to the government, paying an increased toll to a private company will be worse.
This government has wasted millions of taxpayer dollars in it's attempt privatization schemes - including $3 million to privatize the Roberts Bank spur line, and $6 million on the Coquihalla. BC Ferries are likely on his list to sell next!
Broken promises, wasted tax dollars, do I trust Campbell? Do you trust him? Think about it.
Friday, February 25, 2005
CBC has more
Get ready, if a boycott is called we want to let Wal-Mart know they cannot treat employees like chattel in Canada.
Rafe writes a weeky syndicated column and is pretty ticked with the Campbell government on a number of issues. To name a few, farmed salmon, the environment, cuts to social services, legal aid and failure to deliver on the 5000 care beds.
Rafe's most critical comments are saved for his former cabinet minister colleague, Claude Richmond, the Liberal MLA from Kamloops and Speaker of the Legislature.
"On Day One of the Liberal mandate, Speaker Richmond meanly deprived the NDP of Official Opposition status, punctuating his disdain for the Opposition by permitting Liberal backbenchers to hog Question Period, traditionally the Opposition's forum, with slow pitches to cabinet ministries.
All governments are arrogant. Ministers think the title "honourable" confers both moral rectitude and instant ability to run ministries. But when governments act as if they can do whatever they please, it begs public punishment."
Rafe doesn't stop here, he goes on describing the issues that should help Carole James and the NDP.
"The NDP have issues - the broken promise to build long-term facilities to open acute care beds for surgery patients is an obvious one. There is the lack of enforcement of environmental laws and the unbelievable arrogance (that word again) of Agriculture Minister John van Dongen toward the fish farm issue. There's no shortage of social issues."
Finally Rafe concludes his column with this;
"If James can show the Campbell government as arrogant and uncaring to a level where voters are offended, she just might, to the surprise of all, have found a winning wicket."
Prior to 2002 100 Mile House had a court house. That was changed by Geoff Plant, the Attorney General in his budget cutting exercise eleiminated the court. Donna Barnett, 100 Mile Mile House Mayor and Snowmobile Queen faught back and had a circuit court set up, the next best thing.
In the passed two and half years people in 100 Mile House could go in and get help filing papers, and pay fines. That all came to an end on February 1, 2005. It seems the Circuit Court was not suppose to be providing these services. 100 Mile House residents will now have to travel to Williams lake to pay court ordered fines.
Heidi Zetzsche, president of the Cariboo Bar Association, said in the 100 Mile Free Press that prior to Feb. 1 100 Mile area residents were able to receive assistance with many tasks. "For almost two years they were able, without any reduction in staffing in Williams Lake, to send two staff members to 100 Mile House as a circuit court, help the public, take court documents in for filing, and all of a sudden, for whatever reason, they decided whoops, we shouldn't have let that happen," said Zetzsche.
Whoops is right. Seems the service levels were out of sync with the what should be offered in a circuit court like 100 Mile House has.
Helen Pedneault, the assistant deputy minister for Court Services with the Ministry of the Attorney General, told the 100 Mile Free Press those registry services are not meant to be in B.C. circuit courts. "In a staffed permanent courthouse, there are three classifications of service: there is security, there is registry services and there is trial support," said Pedneault.
"In a circuit court scenario where the prosecutors and the judiciary and the support staff from the court travel out to the location, they're travelling to provide the trial support services and the security services, not the registry services. So what has happened in 100 Mile House has basically been a bit of a blurring of what the services are that we are funded to provide."
Bob Girvin, the good guy register in Williams Lake overseeing the 100 Mile House Court Services is just trying to meet his budget and follow directions from on high. I know Bob and it would not be like him not to provide the best possible service. He is restricted from doing so as you read in the statement above from the the Assistant Deputy Minister.
What's evident to Zetzsche is that 100 Mile area residents are being inconvenienced by a reduction in service. "There is a mission statement from the attorney general, and part of it says that the goal is to provide effective legal services enabling the government to provide and administer public affairs in accordance with the law," said Zetzsche. "Doesn't 'effective legal services' include assisting the public?"
Thursday, February 24, 2005
Here is what Jordon had to say ...
I've had a chuckle over NDPer Rick Barnes' stuff today. In this blog, he mentions that noted homosexual MLA Lorne Mayencourt was rabidly pro-Polak in the Surrey by-election. This indicates to me that maybe Mary's much ballyhooed book stand wasn't as unreasonable as we've been led to believe by the press and left wing.
Lorne's a smart guy, and must have talked with Polak on the issue. Why show his support? This, combined with Kim Richter's favourable comments to me on the same topic after speaking with Mary, makes me wonder what the real story is. I'll have to ask Mary when I interview her next week.
See, Lorne is not someone that can speak for queer issues. He has proven that over the last four years very well. You almost get the feeling when he does speak to people and is not on his cell phone, that he is saying, "I feel your pain".
No Lorne is all Partyboi, beit in the westend clubs or million dollar condos, or in the Legislature. His support for Mary Polak is pretty straight forward, Campbell wants her so Lorne jumps in and offers to use his cell phone anyway she likes. Polak is the number one homophobe likely to run in the next election and win. She can then challenge Gambling Kevin Krueger for the title in the Liberal caucus.
I am dying to find out what Mary says, maybe Jordon could ask her about Ted Nebbeling calling Lorne on supporting Polak’s campaign. Jordon might also ask Lorne's new fling if she knows of his promise to make good on a bankruptcy. Hope he did, would like to think he would. Always good to get these things out of the way before sharing a vibrating cell phone.
From Xtra West:
Imagine my surprise when on the night of the by-election, after the voting was done, BCTV legislative reporter Keith Baldrey told his viewers that Liberal caucus members were fighting amongst themselves about the Polak choice. According to Baldrey, out Liberal MLA Ted Nebbeling stormed out of a government caucus meeting sometime this fall, while calling the other out Liberal MLA—Lorne Mayencourt—a hypocrite for supporting Polak’s campaign.
Note: Anyone unfamiliar with Lorne may wonder why the references to his cell phone. Rumour has it his telephone vibrates more than... Perhaps someone will soon release information from an FOI request for his phone records.
Jordan ranks the speeches in this order: 1. Mary Polak 2. Steve Ferguson3. Penny Kirkpatrick
4. Bill Brooks - 5. Sandra Hulbert 6. Zosia Ettenberg
Here is an example of the reporting from Jordon on the meeting:
Then the abortion questions came out. Penny, Mary and Steve stated that they are all pro-life. The rest stated they were pro-choice. The stone cold stunner question of the night came from awoman who asked this question of the pro-lifers: if a 13 year old girl was raped, would you deny her an abortion?
Yikes. I don't care what side of the issue you're on, there's no way to answer that one to everyone's liking. Anyway, Penny mostly just bumbled her way through an answer. Fergie said that it was an impossible question to answer. He wouldn't deny that girl her legal right to an abortion, but would make sure that she was offered every other option available. Mary said that what women really need in that situation is all the support they can get. However, she has heard from women who have had abortions that in retrospect did think that was the best solution to their individual situation.
Polak puts the lie to the Liberal party claim to being middle of the road. Her views on a woman's right to choose, gays and education would be welcomed in deepest Texas. Stephens compared to Polak looks like Libby Davies, the popular NDP Vancouver MP.
Want to follow the Liberal race in Langley, check out Langley Politics for all the stuff and dirt too!
How is Lorne, the gay liberal MLA for Vancouver Burrard Mary's girlfriend? Find out here and no, last I heard Lorne did not become Mary's girlfriend after enrolling in Exodus
More Promises, but will they ever happen?
The Campbell Liberals are in a rush to get out of the Legislature. The three opposition NDP MLA's seem to have a knack at discovering the "Devil in the details" like the 5000 care beds for seniors and that just makes things too accountable for the Premier.
The Premier recently announced $10 million for mental health research, matching a private donation to UBC for the same amount. The money is contingent on the Legislature approving the spending.
The BC Liberals have decided that won't be needed until the fall. In fact the Liberals are in the process of writing themselves a big blank cheque, the largest in BC history. A bill before the house is asking for enough money to operate the government until October 2005.
The normal practice is for Government to pass an interim spending bill until the budget is passed. The BC Budget spending estimates can not be passed until the Legislature approves them. So to avoid any "Devils" being exposed in the details of the budget, the Liberals are making their interim spending bill for up to six months.
Will UBC get the money Campbell promised? Like everything else he is promising now, we won't really know until the budget is passed some five months after the election, maybe Campbell will change his mind between now and then. Just in case, UBC should encourage students and faculty to avoid being too hard on the Campbell Liberal Government.
In her role as Minister of State for Women's Equality, I did have the opportunity to meet with her. I was part of a group that went to Victoria to see what we could get done on HIV/AIDS issues affecting women, with the Minister.
Nice meeting, nice lady, no result.
The Minister then managed to grab headlines in early 2004 when she told the Langley Advance, "Women already have equality, they just have to make choices - such as deciding to "make more money". February 7, 2004
The statement sums up the Liberal view of womens' issues. It was good of Gordon Campbell let the Minister of State for Women's Eqaulity make this policy public.
Read more on the outgoing MLA for Langley at the Langley Advance.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
The Campbell Liberals have put forward their election platform via the budget. The Budget calls for an increase in spending in some areas that the government has decimated in the previous 3 budgets.
The biggest concern people should have is the BC Liberal refusal to pass the budget prior to the election. The Liberals promised in 2002 that they were changing the way things were done in budgeting, making the process more open and accountable.
The Budget process today is supposed to allow the budget to be passed and approved by the Legislature. That won't happen this year as the Liberals prepare for the election. After six days of debate over the budget it will be ended. The line by line review of Government spending normally done will not occur.
If the legisalture does not do the line by line review of Government spending, the Campbell Liberals will be able to avoid the (Devil in the) details of the spending. So much for living up to there promise to be open and accountable.
We will have to take Gordon Campbell's word on the budget, that what they have presented the Legislature is in fact the BC Budget. The Government is currently working on passing an interim spending bill that will allow the Campbell Government to spend up to $12 billion before they need to ask British Columbians through the Legislature for more.
The "Golden Decade" looks alot like the 1990's as far as the economy goes. Statscan tables indicate economic growth in the 1990's in BC averaged 3% and ironically the Campbell Liberals project that the growth in BC during the first 3 years of the "Golden Decade" will be 3%.
Apparently it doesn't have to glitter to be golden.
"True to liberal opportunism the world over, this budget contained the usual end of term tax cuts for the poor and stop-gap funding for education and health. All done with a golden twinkle in their eyes, B.C.’s Liberals expect British Columbians to simply forget the last four years.
We have, said Iona Campognola at the Liberals recent Throne Speech, entered B.C’s “Golden Age,” the boom years of our time; it’s going to be a roaring decade, they feel, leading up to the 2010 Olympics. Only thing is, the last time there was a “roaring” decade, the next one came down with a crash – and that was no bullion."
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Canadian Governor General Adrienne Clarkson doesn't think the Stanley Cup should be a casualty in the war between the NHL's owners and players.
Give Stanley Cup to Women then!
Clarkson argues if the NHL isn't going to use the trophy this season, it should be freed from the league's clutches and contested in a showdown between the world's best women's hockey teams – the Canadian and U.S. national squads.
"Why not?" Clarkson told the newspaper, "Women's hockey has come along so far in the last few years."
The 1763 Royal Proclamation recognized aboriginal peoples as Nations; the 1774 Quebec Act granted unprecedented protection to a conquered people; in 1807 Ezekiel Hart, a Jew elected to the Legislature, challenged the "Christian only" oath and by 1832 the Legislature passed a bill allowing Jews, for the first time in the British Empire, to hold public office.
In 1916, Wilfrid Laurier campaigned for a "regime of tolerance" for francophones in Ontario and John Diefenbaker later did the same for the religious rights of Jehovah's Witnesses. Angus MacInnis defended Japanese Canadians during World War II when nobody else would. John Humphrey drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Great judges like Ivan Rand, Emmett Hall and Thomas Berger have pushed freedom forward inch by inch.
Building such a "regime of tolerance" is one of Canada's greatest achievements. It is recognized around the world as politicians and scholars flock to study our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But it is hardly noticed at home.
The Asper family of Winnipeg wants to change this by creating a National Museum for Human Rights so that every Canadian will know who, why and how we have built this edifice of civility. At a time when Parliament is again debating a crucial human rights issue, the government should give this museum its full support. To have a "respectful" debate on human rights, we need the memory of what has gone before. Parliamentarians should especially recall the wisdom of Frank Scott, one of our great civil libertarians who wrote, "No citizen's right can be greater than that of the least protected group."
Thomas S. Axworthy is chairman of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, Queen's University.
Sunday, February 20, 2005
The Northern region had 1,019 care beds when the Liberals took over. Since the election it has closed 127 beds, mostly residential care, which provide more intensive medical support. It has opened 130 assisted living beds. After four years, the net result has been no practical increase.
Overall, the Liberals promised a 20-per-cent increase in the number of available beds by 2006, or 5,000 additional beds. But in the Interior Health Region today there are actually 333 fewer beds - a loss of about seven per cent.
From the Quesnel Cariboo Observer, Feb 20, 2005
See Surrey Now Editorial: Liberals sleep at night despite lack of beds
On the Budget and coming election:
And as the old saying goes: The devil is in the details.This budget, with all its gaudy numbers, seems to include some steps in positive directions for the hardest-hit. But as this government has shown time and again, it has a sketchy memory for the axiom: A society is judged by how it treats the most vulnerable of its citizens. - Langley Times Editorial Feb 20, 2005
On the Throne speech
A few vague promises and repetition of past feats is the best we could hope for. But this Golden Decade thing has to go. First it was the Heartlands, now this. If the government is trying to come up with cheesy monikers that voters will mock, mission accomplished. Quesnel Cariboo Observer, Feb 13, 2005
On Liberal Promise of Care Beds for Seniors
What is particularly shameful about this broken promise is that while seniors wait for help, the Liberals have been puffing out their chests, bragging about how much of a budget surplus they've created. Surrey Now, Feb 17, 2004
Surrey city council is putting forward an emergency resolution at its meeting on Monday night, to pressure the provincial government for more money to expand Surrey Memorial's emergency ward.
Liberals desperate to save some Surrey seats
Liberal MLA Tony Bhuller calls for an external investigation into the latest death at Surrey Memorial Hospital. Last Thursday in the B.C. Legislature, Surrey-Panorama Ridge NDP MLA Jagrup Brar raised the matter of the untimely death of Baljit Bains.
Bains died after spending two days in emergency at Surrey Memorial. Mr. Bains death is the latest development in what has been a bad year for the hospital. In December, 2004 an external inquiry by Dr. Doug Cochrane, chair of B.C. Patient Safety Task Force into post-caesarean section wound infection rates and emergency room management after nine women suffered high rates of infection was begun.
Haveyou hadenoughyet reminds us the B.C. Coroner's Service [found] the hospital shared blame in the death of Frank Brander, a cancer patient who died in 2003 in an unattended holding cell after three security guards physically restrained him.
The Medical Director of Surrey Memorial Hospital concedes his hospital has issues with too many patients.
Surrey NDP MLA Brar, speaking to the Surrey Leader on budget and what's needed at Surrey Memorial stated, " the budget should have specifically addressed wait times in hospitals like Surrey Memorial, which he claimed is labouring under "Third World conditions" of overcrowding and delays."
1. Open a new file in your PC.
2. Name it "Gordon Campbell."
3. Send it to the trash.
4. Empty the trash.
5. Your PC will ask you,
"Do you really want to get rid of Gordon Campbell?"
6. Answer calmly, "Yes," and press the mouse button firmly
7. Feel better, don't you?
From Sarah Phoenix
Gail and John's story
But because of the BC Liberals' failure to keep their word, John and thousands of other British Columbians have had their lives turned upside-down.
In 2001, John was comfortably settled and thriving at Parkholm Lodge in Chilliwack . His wife and daughter were thrilled with the capable, compassionate staff and comfortable, stimulating environment of the recently renovated facility.
That would soon change.
In Spring 2002, the BC Liberal government rolled out a different plan for seniors' care – one that included bed cuts and facility closures. Health authorities moved quickly, shutting down long-term facilities and relocating vulnerable residents.
In Chilliwack , despite widespread community opposition and months of public protest, the Fraser Health Authority closed Parkholm Lodge, displacing John and the other residents.
John – active and engaged at Parkholm – was transferred to Chilliwack General Hospital in early 2003. It was the only local bed available.
His daughter Gail remembers her father's reaction to leaving Parkholm. “When Dad went into extended care, he closed his eyes and didn't open them for two days."
You can read more here.
Saturday, February 19, 2005
There are many issues facing Canadians right now and it seems the Conservatives can't leave what is none of their business, alone. The Harper led battle over same-sex marriage rights has gone to new levels of stupidity. See Queer Thoughts for the rest of the article
Jim Bobby describes himself : I'm jest a simple feller a-tryin' t' figger out this whole boogeysphere thingy. I got me 1 wifemate an' 6 younguns an' 3 pitbull dogs an' 1 coalie dog an' 1 grey cat. I ain't got a minnyvan but I sure do want one.
Today he has this hilarious bit of dither...
Whooee! I see onta the CBC that ol' Pryminster Fartin' Martin's homeboys is all gatherin' round an' comin' t' the defense on accounta this here limey magazine article that called him Mr. Dithers.
Whooee! Ol' General Adrienne got her adriennalin all elevatored 'bout this here young Jeremy feller gettin' throwed outta the Reedough Hall like I was yammerin' on about yesterday. Now, the General's fallin' all over herself sayin' she's sorry such a terrible thing happened inside o' her house an' won't the youngun come back sometime an' have a cup o' tea. An' pore little Jeremy sez he's sorry, too.
Check out what JimBobby Sez each day!
Friday, February 18, 2005
Hot on the heels of last week's Speech from the Throne comes the 2005 provincial budget, a remarkable spend-and-cut-taxes affair which, among other things, promises (say it with us now) increased health spending, a focus on education and a record-setting 1.7-billion dollar debt payment.
It would seem, if Observer has read the double-speak correctly, that the same government that slashed social programs, raised medicare premiums and closed hospitals, is in a downright warm and fuzzy mood: nearly every social group that has felt the sting of cuts in the past four years was thrown a bone.
Far be it from us to doubt the noble intentions of the Liberal government, but Observer would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that this 'golden' goose won't likely pass until after the May vote, and that this particular budget is, at this point, little more than empty electioneering. Compared to that, those 'B.C. is the best place on earth' ads don't seem so offensive.
In short the reports says the strategy was poorly planned, unrealistic, and designed to cut costs. You can read the report or a summary here.
Earlier this week we learned that the Interior Health Region was down 333 care beds from 2001 when the Liberals came into Government. Seems the strategy has been a failure across the province. So much for the promise of 5000 beds. The Liberal Finance Minister formally the Health Minister and current light weight minister Sindi Hawkins (Hawkins was Minister responsible for Health Planning for the first 2.5 years of the Liberal government) repeatedly denied they were behind schedule and promised again and again, the government was on track to complete the 5000 new beds by this year.
People became concerned when government ministers could not provide numbers as to how many new care beds had been added. Only with a concerted effort this past week during question period by the opposition did new Health Minister Shirley Bond admit that they will not meet their goal and that only 173 additional beds were added. That could be incorrect as well, we will see. Broken Promise 5000 - more to come in the days ahead.
More links ...
Campbell Liberal Government Whooper Budget
Broken Promise #5000 update 1
Kelowna-Mission Nicki Hokazono "won't be...
Broken Promise #5000
Richmond trustee Sandra Bourque tells CBC Radio that the Richmond School District could use the money to provide services for special needs and ESL students as well as other areas trustees have had to cut because of a lack of funding.
"Of course we could use the money, but at what price? It's like putting billboards on the side of schools. Why wouldn't you put billboards on the side of schools if you could put them on the side of trucks?"
Bourque says even though there's more money for education in this year's provincial budget, she estimates it's only replacing about a third of what's been cut by the Liberals.
BC Politics and Education
More and more BC schools are signing deals with corporate interests to make up for funding short falls due to the Campbell Liberal cutbacks. "Public Education, Not for Sale" is a conference on the issue of privatisation and commercialisation taking place in Vancouver today and tomorrow. Did you know about it? Chances are you did not. Canwest which owns three of Vancouver's daily papers and Global TV did not tell you. Global and Canwest are financial contributers to the BC Liberals. More on that on another day.
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a survey today with the BCTF indicating that more than 60 per cent of BC Schools that responded have exclusive contracts with either Coke or Pepsi.
BCTF President Jinny Simms stated, "we're finding the commercialization of schools has really got to an unacceptable level, and we're also looking at why boards are doing this, and in almost all cases it's due to underfunding."
James Wanless is one of the founders of School Ads Alert, told CBC radio today that while pop companies are starting to offer healthier alternatives – "commercialization should not be allowed in schools, the exclusive deals don't give students the right to make choices as consumers."
"As soon as they don't have a choice in products, what ends up happening is a company like Coke or Pepsi builds brand awareness and customer loyalty when kids are very young," says Wanless.
Corporate involvement and or advertising has become a major concern across North America, you can review some of the background material here.
We knew Gordon Campbell and his Liberal government were making it up as they went along and Stacey Robin Smith helps point that out. Check out Smith's post on the New Provincial Budget.
"The tax cuts did not pay for themselves, but grants from the federal government, higher regressive taxes and natural resource revenues not only offset losses from the tax cuts but accounted for $2.6 billion more in revenue. Watch Campbell try to spin that as good management." - BC Liberals are not Effective Managers
BC Politics is going to get very interesting from now to May 17, election day. Have you registered to vote?
Go to Elections BC and you can do it on the internet! It is that easy. Make sure you have either your driver's license or social insurance number (you need the last 6 numbers) and your postal code. BC ID will will not work.
Island residents not happy
BC's Public education has suffered major cuts since the Campbell Liberal's were elected.
113 schools have been closed, programs that support school libraries, arts and sports classes eliminated, ESL classes reduced and increased class sizes. The list is long.
Smaller rural districts are facing an even tougher time due to budget cut backs. These areas are suffering with a lagging economy and have seen student enrollments fall. The Liberals have cut their funding as a result, so school districts have been agonising over the cuts that are being forced on them by the Ministry of Education budget, set by the Liberals.
Some districts were forced to close smaller rural schools, meaning the children spend an hour or more on a bus to and from school each day. Other districts have cut teachers, school bus routes and activities. On the Gulf Islands the school board has brought in a four day school week.
The four day week creates a number of problems, the first being a longer day for students, the second being parents requiring extra child care. Tough luck on the child care part, the Liberals cut that program too.
Read more at Keep Five Alive .
It is time for people to get involved in BC politics. We cannot allow the Campbell Liberals to walk into another term without a fight.
How many Broken Promises does it take to be a Campbell Liberal ?
We don't know, they are still
Family upset with Hospital CBC Photo
A shocking question was asked during question period in the BC Legislative Assembly today. NDP member from Surrey asked the Minister of Health about the death of a a 42 year old Surrey man, who was in emergency for two days when he should have been in intensive care.
Here are the Blues, a draft copy of the transcript:
[DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]
ACUTE CARE SERVICES AT
SURREY MEMORIAL HOSPITAL
J. Brar: The broken promise on new beds has resulted in a growing backlog in hospitals as long-term care patients take up acute care beds.
J. Brar: Listen to the question and then laugh. Last Friday Baljit Bains was taken to the Surrey Memorial Hospital by ambulance. He was sick, coughing blood and displaying other serious symptoms. After four hours he was sent home, where he had a massive heart attack. There was no bed for him at Surrey Memorial Hospital — no bed. After two days in the emergency room rather than in the intensive care unit, where he should have been, Mr. Bains died. My question is: can the Minister of Health explain why the people of my community cannot count on good care when they're sick?
Hon. C. Hansen: First of all, I extend my condolences to the family. It's obviously a very stressful time. We have first-class doctors and nurses and other medical professions that work at our hospitals in this province. I know they do their utmost to make sure that every citizen that comes into an emergency room is properly diagnosed and properly treated. I would, in addition, point out to the member that the number of blocked beds we have in our hospital, what they refer to as alternate level care beds…. These are patients that are in acute care facilities who should be in some other level of care. Those numbers….
Mr. Speaker: Let's hear the answer, please.
Hon. C. Hansen: Those numbers in terms of absolute percentage and in terms of absolute numbers have come down each and every year that we've been in office. When the NDP were in office, it would take over a year to get access to a long-term care facility. Today that wait time is about 60 to 90 days.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Surrey–Panorama Ridge has a supplementary.
J. Brar: That's not the answer. That's not the answer.
J. Brar: That's not the answer the Bains family wants from you, Minister of Finance.
J. Brar: Who is exploiting? Listen to the question again. I have spoken to the members of the Bains family. I have spoken at length to Mr. Bain's family members. They are very, very upset with the level of care Mr. Bains received before his death. My question to the Minister of Health is: how can we trust that the Minister of Health is taking actions to improve care for patients like Mr. Bains when the government refuses to put its health care budget up for scrutiny in this House?
Hon. C. Hansen: The budget for the Ministry of Health Services was set out in the budget documents on Tuesday. It is there for everyone to see. They can go on the website and see. What they will see from the budget is that in each and every year since we formed government, we have increased the budget considerably. There is more money going to the health authorities, and they are actually doing a pretty good job of trying to make sure that the health care system improves. We're clearly not there. There is clearly room for improvement in the health care system, but I can say unequivocally that it is a heck of a lot better today than it was four years ago.
Was this man's death due to a shortage of acute care beds? Did it have anything to do with the lack of senior care beds which leads to many seniors using acute care beds?
The Liberals have made some decisions that has seen acute care bed numbers reduced and has failed to create senior care beds as they promised repeatedly over the last four years.
See CBC s Surrey man's death creates a storm of controversy
Thursday, February 17, 2005
The Campbell Liberals health record includes:
creating a crisis in seniors' care by eliminating thousands of long-term care beds while failing to deliver on their promise to build 5,000 new ones;
shutting down or downgrading hospitals in communities like Kimberly, New Westminster, Victoria and others despite promising to provide British Columbians “the care they need, when they need it, where they live” ;
letting hospital operating rooms lie idle while contracting out surgeries to private clinics – clinics that Gordon Campbell said he would make redundant;
tearing up health care contracts – something else they promised not to do -- and firing 8,000 skilled, experienced health care workers – most of them women – and cutting wages for the newly privatized workforce to the lowest rates in the country;
violating their commitment to value health care workers by slashing wages for LPNs, cardiology technologists, lab assistants, computer specialists, hospital trades workers and others by 15 per cent – generating a looming recruitment and retention crisis and contributing to plummeting staff morale; and
squandering more than $2 million on fees and expenses for its appointees to health authority boards.
Get more info from Deceive BC
There is only one opportunity to defeat the Campbell Liberals and that time has come. Every single vote will matter. Every single vote will make a difference. Please come back here Sunday for the tool kit, tips on registering people and local contacts.
If you want to help, send an email to me with your contact info. I will put you in touch with those in your community working to make sure every vote counts.
From the Heartlands website is a volunteer effort to defeat the Campbell Liberal Government.
Sound like a bad country and western tune? It could be, but it is also the Campbell Liberals theme going into the provincial election this year.
Paying Attention reminds us ...
The budget should be a pretty good launch into the next stage of this long election campaign. Lots more spending, money to pay down the debt, a quarter-billion-dollar fund to tap for goodies between now and the start of the official campaign - it's all the stuff that voters should like. But there's a problem.
For many voters, Gordon Campbell is going to look like one of those panicky guys in the final days of a dying relationship, swearing that he can change. Just give him another chance and this time he'll pay more attention, bring home flowers every now and then, and take care of the kids more often. It comes down to trust, like so many things in life.
The Liberals chopped personal and corporate taxes on their first day in office, before they had even seen the government's books. Those cuts, which knocked $2 billion off revenues, forced the deep cuts to services and prevented the government from coming up with the money needed to deliver on promises like adding 5,000 long-term care beds.
The Liberals' success will also depend on their ability to convince people that they really have changed. It's easy to play the devoted suitor in a bid to get a relationship back on track, and just as easy to revert to type once the crisis is past. The Liberals hope this budget will be the political equivalent of a truckload of roses.
Hokazono says the budget comes nowhere near talking about how the government plans to increase the number of long-term care beds for seniors.
333 care beds have been lost in the Interior since Campbell and local MLA Sindi Hawkins promised 5000 new care beds in the province. Hawkins was Minister of Health Planning for two years, the Ministry in charge of putting the plan together to create the 5,000 beds.
The number of care beds available in Hawkins riding of Kelowna-Mission has also fallen. Hokazono, former school trustee will be Hawkins rival in the upcoming election. Kelowna has long been a right wing bastion. The signs this time around show the Liberals are losing their grasp on the Fortress Kelowna. Could the Okanagan actually elect an NDP member?
It won't be easy, if it happens here, Carole James will be Premier.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
This morning he points out who the big winners were under the Liberals, "The 11,000 taxpayers making more than $250,000 in taxable income – hello there, Marcus Naslund – got tax breaks averaging close to $20,000 per year."
Check it out there is much more!
Public Eye Online attended the BC Budget lockup yesterday and was good to provide a transcript of the Minister's meeting with the media.
Media: So again, that's $1 billion for the remaining 4,800 beds?
Minister Hansen: No. What I said was that there's about $1 billion built into the budget for additional funding for health
In reading it Hansen tells us the Billion dollars being sent to Health Authorities is not earmarked for care beds. The regional health authorities can use the funds to meet local needs. The Liberals will no doubt tell local authorities to get the beds.
The question is; has Hansen actually sent enough money for all the health care needs? He uses the word flexibility again. Under this government flexibility is code for privatisation and or "we don't know yet how we are going to do this.
The exchange is here ... There is much more reading at Public Eye Online.
Media: Given the fact the government failed to fulfill its 2001 promise to create 5,000 long-term care beds, I thought I'd see some specific targeted funds for that. What money will you put towards fulfilling that promise?
Minister Hansen: Well, what you see in the budget is about a billion dollars that will go to regional health authorities around the province. And health authorities have an obligation to meet the healthcare needs of citizens in those areas. So, built into that, are the monies that they're going to need to allocate to ensure that target gets met by the end of 2008. Basically every health authority is in a very different position when it comes to where they're at and where they have to get to. And it's something we've learned over the last two and a half years is that what works in Dawson Creek isn't necessarily going to work necessarily in downtown Vancouver or vice-versa. So we have provided that flexibility. It's one of the regions why the regionalized health structure we have today is working for British Columbians. So the dollars we've talked about are built into those allocations.
Media: So again, that's $1 billion for the remaining 4,800 beds?
Minister Hansen: No. What I said was that there's about
$1 billion built into the budget for additional funding for health
Media: To create those remaining beds?
Minister Hansen: For all of their needs. Let me just add to that a bit. Because there's a variety of ways that health authorities and other agencies - it's not just health authorities - are meeting the needs of seniors housing in the province. And seniors housing with care components to it - which is what we're talking about in the 5,000 beds commitment. So it's not just a case of government going out and borrowing capital and building a building and then hiring staff to operate it. The tradition in this province has always been one of working with the not-for-profit sector and the private sector to meet the housing needs of seniors. And the government has come to the table to provide support for those with lower incomes that can't afford the market rates for those kinds of facilities. We also come to the table to provide the necessary healthcare supports in those facilities. So there's a variety of ways of doing that. So we're not saying, "Here is a recipe that's dictated out of Victoria on how to do that." We're actually sitting down and working with local providers to see how that can best be met.
More reading at Public Eye Online.
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
More Updates coming soon
The budget reads like a repeat of the Liberals' 2001 "A New Era" document, the document that so clearly tells us how the Liberals have lied to BC Residents.
The cut of $40 million to MSP premiums comes after a $350 million increase in those premiums.
Over 100 schools have been closed, lunch programs, music and arts classes cut and librarian and counsellor positions eliminated. All of this makes today's announcement of increased funding pale in comparison.
$881 million has been chopped from the combined budgets of the Children and Family Services, Employment, and Community and Aboriginal Services ministries again since they were elected almost four years ago.
The Liberals promised they wouldn't privatise BC Rail, they would honour union contracts, build 5000 care beds for seniors and reduce waiting lists.
For the record: BC Rail privatised, Union contracts for over 100,000 health care workers ripped up and thousands of workers laid off, wait lists have increased in almost all areas of health care, and not more than 170 more care beds were created, far short of the 5000 they promised.
BC politics is about to see the unravelling of the Liberal Whooper list.
BC Schools have charged fees for years. In the last four years the fees have become more common and larger. The problem has been made worse due to Provincial government cuts to school board budgets.
Local School Trustee John Young talks a good line about school fees being illegal in British Columbia. In 1997, he successfully sued his own schoolboard to ban fees from the Victoria School District. Now he's on the campaign trial again, and he wants to stop illegal school fees right across BC.
Alan Rycroft is at his side providing strategic and public relations advice. You can hear about why school fees are illegal and what to do about them on C-FAX (Victoria) and CKOV radio (Kelowna) and other media outlets around the province. You can also visit Professor John Young's Illegal School Fees web site at:http://illegalschoolfees.ca
Help stop school fees in British Columbia. Contact the Minister. Write yourPrincipal. Don't pay illegal school fees. Make a contribution to the BC Advocacy Institute, Inc. to help defray campaign expenses: Box 8307,Victoria BC, V8W 3R9. Donations are not tax deductible.
CFAX Numbers: (250) 386-1161 ~ Cell phone (free call) *1070
Fax (250) 920-4624
CKOV Numbers: (250) 763.4212 ~ Toll Free 1.888.763.4212
Health Minister Bond
The BC Minister of Health Services said on February 9, 2005
"We currently have shovels in the ground on an additional 2,700 units," Bond said.
She estimated the government will have provided 170 new intermediate and long-term care beds by May.
How many of the shovels are really in the ground. The Ministry of Health Services has no idea themselves yet the Minister knows. Former Minister Collins, now Finance Minister never could tell anyone how many care beds were being built. Now as we approach the election the Liberals are admitting they failed.
Trust us they are saying, we told a whooper when we asked you to support us in the last election but we really will build the additional care beds this time.
I bet there are a few projects running like crazy right now to get those 170 care beds the Minister refers to above completed by May. Overtime paycheques coming?
I want to know where the shovels are in the ground around the province the Minister mentions. I suspect from past experiance, its likely a WHOOPER.
Carole James, leader for the NDP said Monday, February 14, 2005
"Gordon Campbell knew precisely how much it would cost to fulfill his promise to seniors - he put the number in his 2001 candidate briefing book," said James. "But he betrayed seniors and budgeted far less than was needed, adding over $582 million to the budget surplus while leaving thousands of seniors without care."
Broken Promise 5000
333 beds lost in the Interior Health Authority region.
Province wide the number of additional beds floats between 170 since the Liberals were elected and zero.
See the special report today on the front page of the Kelowna Courier and here.
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Justice for Wal-Mart Workers (UFCW Photo)
Wal-Mart has announced it would close a store in Quebec after its employees joined a union. Workers in two Saskatchewan towns are close to joining a union as well. Here in BC workers at Wal-Mart Tire & Lube Express departments in Wal-Mart stores located in Surrey (Guildford Mall), Terrace, Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Quesnel, Kamloops, and Langford (Victoria), have applied for union membership. They are waiting the decision of the Labour Board on the date of a vote.
There are calls for a boycott against Wal-Mart and I expect one to begin soon. UFCW is leading the effort to represent workers at Wal-Mart. Currently the union is seeking your support. You can sign the petition to Wal-Mart's CEO!
The world’s largest corporation is choosing to destroy the livelihoods of nearly 200 working families rather than accept a fair and impartial agreement defining workers wages and benefits.
To learn more on this go to Wal-Mart Workers Canada.
The blogger with the most on the fight for justice at Wal-Mart is Sinister Thoughts. Sinister in that the folks he talks about, exposes, are ones who deem his thoughts sinister.
When a boycott begins I will let you know here and at PEJ News. You can also follow Wal-Mart Workers Canada or Sinister Thoughts websites for more detail and information on a regular basis.
Small flightless bird weighs in on wal-mart as does The Regular from the USA.
exporting our jobs, another good site in the United States has new Wal-Mart stoires every day.
editorial from the centre of the "Heartlands"
Thought you could sneak it by us Claude? Bet you forgot some of us out here in the "heartlands" actually hear about what it is you are doing in Victoria. Open and accountable government should likely start with a new speaker, someone who can at least pretend to be non-partisan.
The speaker has shown his bias many times to date, the first blatant example being his refusal to recognise the NDP as Her majesty's Loyal Opposition (official opposition) in 2001 and now he has determined the NDP are too effective in question period so he muzzled them.
Read the Vernon Morning Star editorial here and Haveyouhadenoughyet weighs in suggesting the J Team is too much for the short attention spans of Liberals!
Broken Promise #1
Broken Promise #2 - Health Care When you need it, Where you need it.
"We need to look at what happened. Do we need to do more in the community so more people can stay in the community?" said du Toit, adding "that people are also encouraged to use private walk-in clinics before going to the emergency room."
People in Vernon and area are seeing their health services failing. 20 people were in the hallways on Thursday night, the hospital having no place to put them. As is becoming all too common with Health authorities in the province, they blame the people accessing the hospital for the failure of the Health Authority to meet their needs.
Don Mills told the Vernon Morning Star, "If there was a bus accident, there would have been no place to put them, I think the government is wrong by not replacing the Armstrong and Enderby hospitals. They have created government for the rich and health care is only a nuisance."
The Vernon Morning Star has more here.
Cariboo South NDP candidate tells the Williams Lake Tribune, Charlie Wyse, says changing the buzz-word from "Heartlands” to “Golden Decade” just doesn’t get it done.
“It’s more fool’s gold than substance ... Seniors can’t get access for proper spaces. Waiting lists have increased by 40 per cent.”
Cariboo North NDP candidate, Bob Simpson, also asks what happened to the Heartlands strategy. “Have the Liberals given up on helping rural communities diversify and grow our economies?”
University College of the Cariboo
2001 - students pay $120 per course - $40 per credit
2005 - students pay $321 per course - $107 per credit
These costs don't include the student fees. The average full-time student paying $3,200 in tuition fees each year is being forced to live on nearly the same student loan as a full-time student three years ago who paid $1,200 in tuition each year. "Former minister of advanced education Shirley Bond has taken $16.3 million away from the grant program," Mel Brown, vice-president of internal affairs for the Cariboo Student Society told Kamloops This Week.
"We will honour the tuition freeze of the NDP," - Gordon Campbell during the Election in 2001
In-Tuition - a word describing a gut feeling such as; "you just know there is a a broken promise coming from a Campbell Liberal."
FEDs put up some of the money Campbell took away:
Have you ever been to a meeting or out with friends and someone goes on about how good they are? You know the guy, on and on, takes credit for this and that.
Gordon Campbell did it again. The Federal Millennium Scholarship Foundation has made $26 million available to low income students attending post secondary institutions in BC. NOT one cent from the province, all Gordo did was accept the money from Ottawa.
BC has gone from the second lowest tuition costs in Canada to become one of the most expensive. Tuition costs in BC have doubled since 2003.
Vancouver -- The B.C. government and the Millennium Scholarship Foundation are helping students from low-income families with a $26-million bursary program.
The four-year trial program will be in place in time for this fall's school year.
Premier Gordon Campbell said that combined with his government's promise this week to limit tuition increases to the rate of inflation, the program is one more step in helping students go to university or college.
The Millennium Foundation is funding the bursary program. It will pay about $2,000 in tuition for each of 2,800 students from low-income families.
Saturday, February 12, 2005
Friday, February 11, 2005
Today a service is being held for Ron Basford a sometimes friend of the queer community, much more so in his last years on the Sunshine Coast
Basford and I disagreed on a lot of things. He spoke out against gays in the military in 1977 when one of my favourite Liberal cabinet ministers Francis Fox was saying let them in. Basford's role in setting up the northeast coal in BC also had a stink to it. In 1982 the Bennett Government paid him $600 a day and another $600 in expenses as a consultant.
I met Mr. Basford only once, in my youth. I was leaving a political meeting and was invited to have some drinks with a group that included Ron Basford. I was not there long, long enough to know Ron was one of the big boys.
All that said and out of my system, Ron Basford was instrumental in making Vancouver the world's most livable city. What would Vancouver's east side be like today without Gastown, Chinatown and The Drive?
Many people were part of the effort to stop a planned mega freeway through Vancouver. Mike Harcourt, Art Phillips and Basford were key among them. Vancouver City Hall and Vancouver Burrard MP Basford pushed back against the Socred Government.
Ron Basford was the federal minister that took the ideas for a new vision of the south side of the Burrard Bridge area. A run down area owned by the feds. Some smart planners saw a public market, meeting place for people, a place to go on rainy days that was out doors! Granville Island was born and it remains one of the great creations of Vancouver. Basford was the MP and had the Granville Island land and responsibility moved to his department.
Basford also lead a national investment in affordable housing unseen since. CMHC created thousands of Co-op Housing societies and Vancouver took advantage of their home town boy's access to the budget, building thousands of Co-op units, keeping many people in the communities they grew up in, helping establish the many different communities that make Vancouver so rich.
Today there is no death penalty in Canada. The Trudeau government initiative to eliminate state sanctioned killing was lead by Ron Basford. The Conservative Government in the 1980's held a vote on restoring the death penalty, it was defeated.
Basford did one more thing that middle aged white guys can thank him for. Basford made it easier for men to take it all off. Full Cranium Monty.
Ron Basford was a man in the right place at the right time. Vancouver had the right people at the right time. Canada's leader was Pierre Trudeau at the right time. Mix that together and you know why Vancouver has so often been rated number one or damm near number one. Thank you Mr. Basford.
Open, honest and accountable government?
Gordon Campbell and the Liberals promised open, honest and accountable government in a new era for BC.
The three member NDP trounced the Campbell Government on Wednesday. With one more MLA they were better able to hold the government accountable. The Liberals were embarrassed by the small three member NDP caucus so they did what anyone who is a bully, they changed the rules.
Speaker, Liberal MLA and former Socred Cabinet Minister, Claude Richmond decided to do what no other Speaker has ever done in question period since it was established in the BC Legislature in 1972. Richmond put a time limit on each question the opposition asks the government.
Question period is 15 minutes, four days a week. It is the only time the opposition can demand answers from the government. Every other minute of the Legislatures' business is determined by the Government.
Open, Honest and Accountable was the Promise of Gordon Campbell, Claude Richmond and the Liberals. Today was a sad day for BC Democracy, even with a majority of 73 to 3, the Liberals are feeling the heat. No wonder Liberal MLA, Speaker Richmond stepped in to throw water on the oppositions efforts.
CBC has more ... and Public Eye Online Pokes Shirley Bond, Health Minister for no show...
Broken Promise # 1
Thursday, February 10, 2005
After the discovery of homosexuality and other sexualities were listed as mental disorders, I thought it may be a good idea to see what else lurks behind the BC Government Websites.
One would expect that when you use a BC government health site you would find non-judgmental medical information and not an American anti-choice organization. The BC HealthGuide Online offers up several support groups for women that are pregnant. The first one appears to be a helpline. The website for the helpline is not linked, the hotline is listed like this;
Free, confidential information for pregnant women, shelters for women and girls, baby clothes, adoption referrals.CALL: 1-800-848-5683 (24 hr)
I looked up the website and was astounded to find first of all the site was based in the United States and second, it was an anti-choice website. The possibility of a woman calling the line to find out where or how they could access an abortion in BC is real. The site is called Stop the Insanity.
Women calling the line would be shocked to hear they were talking to an American and second it was not a government funded non-profit or health line, but a US anti-choice site. That may be an acceptable practice in the United States, it isn't here in Canada.
Abortion is a medically accessible service and no woman in this province should be directed to such a site that would be judgmental with respect to her request.
The BC Government under the NDP contracted with Healthwise in February of 2001. In a press release the government stated, "The ministry and Healthwise will work together to ensure information on the site is current and consistent with British Columbia health-care practices and policies."
It is clear that with tens of millions of dollars being spent by the provincial government to upgrade websites and IT tools and support, the Ministry of Health Services has not followed through with the updates required.
The BC HealthGuide online lists other sites including a pro-abortion site and Planned Parenthood. Two other pregnancy hotlines are provide as well, both of them are anti-choice sites like the first one. In each case they are American organisations.
You have to dig to find BC information. If you just use what the guide puts up you would miss important information on abortion services in BC. It should not be an exercise in working your way through a website to find the information you need. Once you find the BC information it is good. The American hotlines should be removed from the guide and be replaced by appropriate BC and Canadian resources.
See the hotlines listed in BC HealthGuide Online for Pregnancy...
Free, confidential information for pregnant women, shelters for women and girls, baby clothes, adoption referrals.CALL: 1-800-848-5683 (24 hr)VERIFIED: 11/5/2003
National Abortion Federation
Information and referrals regarding abortions. Financial aid.CALL: 1-800-772-9100 (Mon-Fri, 9am-10pm; Sat-Sun, 9am-5pm)VERIFIED: 7/14/2003
BILINGUAL.Referrals to neighborhood planned parenthood clinics nationwide.CALL: 1-800-230-7526 (Mon-Fri, 8:30am-5pm)VERIFIED: 7/8/2003
Information and counseling to pregnant women. Referrals to free pregnancy test facilities, foster and adoption centers.CALL: 1-800-238-4269 (24 hr)VERIFIED: 11/5/2003
Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry
Multilingual.Registry of women who are taking antiepileptic drugs and who are pregnant. Helps to determine which medications are associated with increased risks. Physicians are encouraged to enroll women.CALL: 1-888-233-2334VERIFIED: 11/5/2003
National Life Center, Inc.
Provides counseling and information for pregnant women. Referrals to testing sites, free maternity, baby clothes, and formula.CALL: 1-800-848-5683VERIFIED: 7/14/2003
Safe Place for Newborns
Provides referrals to locations where mothers can safely and anonymously take their babies to be placed for adoption.CALL: 1-877-440-2229VERIFIED: 11/5/2003
OTIS (Organization of Teratology Information Services)
Multilingual. Provides local referrals to agencies that provide information concerning prenatal drug, medication, chemical and other potentially harmful exposures. Literature.CALL: 1-888-285-3410 (Mon-Fri, 8:30am-4pm) (PST)VERIFIED: 11/5/2003
Check out the other support groups listed:
All 99 health support areas are American based. It is an exhaustive list, if only we were in the United States. In almost every support group I looked at, a Canadian or BC resource could be substituted.
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
A tax on Legal fees is unfair says a BC Judge. The tax was brought in by the NDP to help fund Legal Aid. In opposition Geoff Plant and the Campbell Liberals rightly condemned the tax and vowed to remove it. Almost four years into their mandate, the tax is still there.
Rafe Mair in a column written in 2002 reported, "While opposing cuts in Legal Aid by then A-G Colin Gabelman, Plant, as Justice critic, made a speech about the right of all of Her Majesty's subjects, of however humble estate, to have legal protection in times of peril - a speech that brought tears to the flintiest of eyes. Unhappily, Mr Plant had to read and hear his own words thrown back at him ad nauseum as he, now in office, slashed Legal Aid to tatters."
The issue has heated up as a result of the Liberals seizing $6,000 from a BC Lawyer that did work for clients that were unable to pay for a lawyer, let alone the 7% tax. In 2002 the Liberals cut legal aid by 40%. The Legal Aid Society refused to implement the cut so the Campbell Liberals fired the board and cuts were introduced. Today the society receives $34 million less than in 2001.
Dugald Christie a lawyer with the Western Canada Society to Access Justice sued the government after the seizure of funds and assets, claiming the 7% tax discriminated against poor people and the lawyers that provide them representation.
Christie told CBC the tax violated an important principle, "And that is, that everyone is entitled to appear before the courts unhindered by the government, that we all have the right to appear before a court without being taxed out of existence."
Madam Justice Marvyn Koenigsberg decision today says the province must pay Christie back with interest. Justice Koenigsberg ruled further that the province doesn't have the legal authority to force people on low incomes to pay the tax, those who net less than $28,000 a year.
The tax was questionable when introduced, it became substantially more questionable after the Campbell Liberals slashed legal aid funding, the tax purported to help fund, resulting in thousands of British Columbians going without legal assistance in our courts.