At the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) board meeting in Parksville on March 30, members of the Oceanside Coalition for Strong Communities will beseech the directors to ask the provincial government to restructure the board for more transparency and local responsibility.
The coalition’s John Olsen said even the VIHA website makes it clear the board “sees its responsibility to consist of nothing more than informing communities — after the fact — of decisions they have taken. “
The coalition, whose mandate is to “provide opportunities in a non-partisan way for the public to have the information they need to make informed decisions,” believes there is no accountability between VIHA and the communities they serve.
Olsen said the creation of VIHA in 2001 replaced local, elected, citizen boards with a corporate body that recommends directors to the Minister of Health for appointment.
They give examples including the decision to build a hospital on the highway between Comox and Campbell River without public consultation, but both communities protested and are now receiving their own facilities.
Olsen also cites District 69’s long struggle for a “24/7 facility for urgent care” including government studies dating back over 10 years calling for a facility to address “urgent, chronic, palliative and out-patient care,” which they say a recently announced facility falls far short of addressing.
“Consultation at the community level has consisted of arbitrary negotiations with a self-appointed task force and unsolicited input from a self-appointed federation of local rate-payer organizations,” he said. “No meaningful consultations with local physicians have been undertaken and no effort to convene an open community forum has been taken.”
To address these issues, the coalition will be asking the VIHA directors to “ensure local community participation in the operation of the authority by requesting that cabinet move immediately to so restructure the VIHA board … and set up a mechanism that makes the policy making arm responsive to locally elected appointees.”
They also plan to make this proposal an issue in coming elections.
They urge concerned residents to attend next Wednesday’s meeting, March 30 at 10:30 a.m. at the Parksville Community & Conference Centre, 132 E. Jensen Avenue.