George Le Masurier photo

The Week: violations at Seniors Village, applause for Wendy Morin, solving homelessness

May 30, 2019 | Commentary, News

By George Le Masurier

This week, Decafnation reported a story that other Comox Valley media have been afraid to tackle: the endemic problems of regulatory non-compliance at Comox Valley Seniors Village, and the failure of Island Health to properly supervise this privately-owned long-term care facility.

Three residents died as an indirect result of a recent norovirus outbreak at Seniors Village and the facility, which was lacking supervisors in senior management positions at the time, did not follow required cleaning protocols during and after the event.

It took a small group of family members of Seniors Village residents to raise awareness of the outbreak, even to Island Health, and demand corrective action.

Privatization in the healthcare industry too often results in extreme cost-cutting to boost profits for shareholders and puts patients and residents at risk. There are some good private operators, although nonprofit organizations, such as Glacier View Lodge and The Views at St. Joseph are better suited to provide reliably quality care for loved ones.

Island Health needs to either take over Seniors Village, as the family members have requested, or step up its regulatory supervision of the facility.

They could start down that road by discontinuing the ludicrous practice of telling care facilities when they plan to do inspections. Inspections should be a surprise in order to see the facility in its everyday state without the advantage of several weeks to shine things up.

 

Did Russ Arnott not read the letter from KFN?

Many weeks ago, K’omoks First Nation Chief Nicole Rempel wrote a letter to Comox Mayor Russ Arnott and council members expressing disappointment and concern that the town had made plans for replacing Mack Laing’s heritage house with a viewing platform without any prior consultation.

But the council has apparently ignored Chief Rempel’s concerns.

At a recent meeting, council members went ahead and approved revisions to the town’s plan for a viewing platform at the site, which is sacred First Nations ground, including middens, without including KFN in the redesign process.

Mayor Arnott was quoted as saying that presenting the finished redesign to KFN would be acting as “friendly neighbours and showing what we’re doing.”

Did he not read the letter? KFN wants prior consultation. They want to be involved in what the town hopes to do with Mack Laing’s house, called Shakesides. They do not want to be disrespected by being shown a redesign as a fait accompli.

KFN doesn’t want to be ‘friendly neighbors.’ They want to be active participants.

We anticipate that due to the mayor’s and council’s blind spot that another letter from KFN may be forthcoming.

 

Applause, please, for Courtenay Councillor Wendy Morin

When the Youth Environmental Action (YEA) group made a presentation to the Comox Valley Regional District board about climate change and the need for urgent action, they received an unusual response from several directors.

We won’t name them, but these directors responded to the presentation by nitpicking the students’ PowerPoint slides. They made all kinds of suggestions about how to improve the readability and attractiveness of their slides, without so much as mentioning the content.

Thankfully, Courtenay Councillor and CVRD Director Wendy Morin took the microphone and admonished her colleagues. When have we ever critiqued a delegations PowerPoint slides before, Morin asked?

Her question got the board back on track to consider the students’ important message.

 

What it would take to solve homelessness?

Jill Severn, a friend of Decafnation and a pioneer in the US micro-housing solution for homelessness, recently wrote an article about the real causes of this problem. We’re reprinting excerpts of her article today, most of which applies equally to Canada.

As long as we are only talking about how to “respond” to homelessness, we are caught in a trap, because our society is churning out more homeless people faster than we can provide even the most elemental humanitarian responses to their suffering. Somehow, we need to tackle the challenge of how to prevent homelessness.

The big picture of prevention would start with a lot more housing and a lot less poverty.

That would require a reversal of decades of cuts to federal housing programs, and a national shift toward a dramatic reduction in income inequality, starting with a higher minimum wage and significant investments in free, effective job training and safety net programs.

And beyond that, there’s a long list of very specific unmet needs that target intergenerational poverty. For example, we need:

— universal early childhood education, starting with visiting nurses who help new parents bond with their babies and understand what babies and toddlers need to thrive;

— a child welfare system that is fully funded, with social workers who are well paid and not overworked to the point of burnout;

— public schools where all adult relationships with students are based on deep caring, cultural competence, respect, and high expectations;

— easy-to-access mental health services for people of every age, without stigma; addiction treatment on demand, and robust harm reduction programs for people who aren’t ready for treatment;

— criminal justice reforms that focus on rehabilitation, and expand rather than foreclose future employment opportunities;

— an end to racism, gender discrimination, and homophobia;

— a spiritual renewal based not on dogma, but on the simple, universal value of loving our neighbors – all of them – not just in theory but in practice.

Achieving these goals would result in a better educated, healthier and more prosperous society. And that’s the only kind of 21st century society in which homelessness will not be a chronic problem.

To create that society, we need to do more than sit at the bottom of a cliff talking about how to help the ever-growing number of our neighbors who have fallen off.

And we need to have realistic expectations about how much of this problem can be solved at the local, regional, or even state level. The scale of growing homelessness – which is the most extreme result of the hopelessness that poverty engenders – requires a national response from a functional, purposeful federal government that makes reducing poverty a top priority.

Our local measures do make a difference. Even if the city and its local partners cannot solve the problem of homelessness, we can (and already do) make an immense difference in the lives of those who are helped to find housing and reclaim their lives.

And even those who remain homeless benefit from the services, meals, and shelter provided by the city, and by our local network of nonprofits, faith communities, and big-hearted volunteers.

 

 

 

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