Letters to the Editor: May 4

Hats off to CHCA; Fraggle Rock; Vote-splitting; Kits Coast Guard; Family Caregiver Week

Hats off to CHCA

On behalf of the East Kootenay Foundation of Health, we would like to recognize and congratulate the Cranbrook Health Care Auxiliary for the recent very significant donation for the health care equipment associated with the new ICU, as recognized in the Townsman, April 16 edition.

The Cranbrook Auxiliary has an outstanding history of making repetitive significant annual contributions for the enhancement of health care in our Regional Hospital. In the last five years this organization has averaged $600,000 a year, according to this same article. Where would our health care be without these dollars?

It is amazing to recognize that these funds originate not only from the Hospital gift shop, but also the Thrift Store. Both of these are operated and managed by volunteers (150-plus in number). These same volunteers also fulfill a significant function. They direct patients to their ultimate health care area in the hospital. This care and attention in the guiding of these hospital visitors definitely minimizes the anxiety associated with any medical visit.

So it’s hats off to the Cranbrook Health Care Auxiliary volunteers and the organization in general for yet another significant contribution to the health care offered in our Regional Hospital.

The Executive of the East Kootenay Foundation of Health Board

Brian Clifford, Chairman of the Board

Wes Rogers, 1st Vice-Chair, President.

Fraggle Rock

Over the past several years, some good spirited local person has put a very nice Fraggle Rock sign on the perfect rock just outside of town on the way to Fernie.  It has been very well constructed and very reminiscent of that great kid’s show from years ago.  It always made me smile that someone would go to the effort and it always reminded me of when our kids were young and we wouldn’t miss the show.  Each time the sign has been erected, someone has destroyed it and I cannot understand why.

A heartfelt thank you to the person who went to the trouble of putting up such a nice sign/memory and a big ‘Why?’ to the person who has torn them down.

John Nesbitt/Cranbrook

Vote-splitting

The Harper Conservatives has acclaimed David Wilks as their candidate for our gerrymandered federal constituency of Kootenay Columbia. As a resident of Cranbrook for 21 years, we thought we’d be in a different constituency when we moved to Nelson in 2013.  Not so.  In the next election folks like me in Nelson will be voting for the same Member of Parliament as all of you in the East Kootenay.  The Harper Conservatives are hoping that once again the Liberals, NDP and Greens will split the left of center vote, which will allow them to walk up the middle for another four years of Conservative government.

Can our country tolerate another four years of Conservative government?  When we consider their leadership on the environment, addressing social issues faced by lower and middle income Canadians, track record on supporting corporations and big business, blatant disregard for democratic principles, mismanagement of our economy and natural resources (as in tar sands) eviscerating the CBC, as well as doing irreparable damage to our international reputation, I shutter to think what four more years of Conservative rule will do to our country and way of life.

Obviously we need a change back to the progressive governments we elected from the 1960’s into this millennium where social programs were created to address the needs of most Canadians, not just the wealthy.  However, this will take a mammoth effort on the part of all citizens, especially each of us in Kootenay Columbia.  The Harper government gained a majority in 2011 when only 60% of eligible voters cast ballots and gave the Conservatives 38% of the popular vote.  Less than 1 in 3 eligible Canadians voted for the Harper government in 2011 with our first-past-the-post electoral system.  Are we going to learn from that or allow it to happen again?

With an election just a matter of months away, it’s time for all of us who want change to work together.  Liberals, NDP and Greens cannot afford to continue to split our votes allowing the Conservatives to represent Kootenay Columbia once again because we aren’t united in our opposition of their style of government. We need the progressive parties to cooperate and stop snipping at one another.  Mulcair and Trudeau and May need to collaborate for the sake of our country and democracy.  Here in Kootenay Columbia, we need to join forces to identify one progressive candidate who will represent our interests and get that person elected so we are well represented in Ottawa.  We cannot afford to be complacent.  Our country’s future is at stake.  Our children and grandchildren’s Canada is at stake.

Gerry Sobie/Nelson

Kits Coast Guard

Re: “Coast Guard hysteria sinks lower” (B.C. Views, April 28).

I believe I may be the “retired captain from the now-closed Kitsilano Coast Guard station” referred to by Tom Fletcher.

I am a disgruntled Canadian citizen and voter, not a disgruntled retiree of the Coast Guard. I was good at my job and loved my career.

I retired after 32 years of service to an organization that employs so many talented and hard-working people, all dedicated to lifesaving, marine safety and yes environmental response. I didn’t even think of getting involved until such time that the exaggerations and fabrications began pouring from the Coast Guard’s commissioners and deputy commissioners’ mouths, all for the purpose of saving the Prime Minister’s reputation for just one of his many ill-thought-out cuts.

The Coast Guard Station Kitsilano was primarily a rescue boat station, but “Kits Base” was also one of the best equipped and trained lifeboat stations in Canada. That’s a fact, not some jaded opinion from a disgruntled ex-employee. We fought fires, responded to numerous oil spills yearly, rescued and assisted hundreds of mariners and boaters annually, trained many “basic oil pollution responders” annually (until that program was shut down also). The staff at the station also monitored and helped to maintain navigational aids in the busy harbour.

I was a coxswain at Kitsilano Base, a trained pollution response technician and a licensed hovercraft pilot. Because of retirement I can now speak freely, unlike the Coast Guard personnel who are still employed and unable to comment due to fear of repercussions from management.

How do you explain closing one of the busiest Coast Guard stations in the country to save $700,000 a year? When will Canadians wake up?

Capt. Tony Toxopeus AMS/Surrey

Family Caregiver Week

This week, May 4-10 has been declared Family Caregiver Week in BC.

Family has always been understood as the base, where we give and receive love, caring and support. This is especially true for our vulnerable periods when we may be frail and dependent. Every person has a unique set of family relationships, including varying degrees of affection, contact and support from others.

In 2015, we are witnessing rapidly evolving changes in relationships, roles and systems. Biological families may be scattered over large distances, often struggling with the realities of livelihood and raising their own families.

One result is that many of us have developed a broader definition of who we consider to be ‘our family’.  Now, often they are our friends, long term neighbours, fellow volunteers, etc. They are the people around us, with whom we share values, interests and mutual concern for each other’s well being.

Currently, there are about 13 million Canadians providing some type of support or care to a family member or friend with age- related health issues.  It is estimated that these ‘informal’ caregivers contribute the equivalent of $5 billion in unpaid labour annually.

Many readers will recognize that they are, or have been, part of this group. This week we say thanks to each of you.  You are unsung heroines and heroes of our society. You are the eyes, ears, smiles and hands of compassion, which enrich the quality of our Canadian culture.

Providing informal care to a loved one can also be fraught with challenges.      Identifying and navigating appropriate and timely health services, understanding and responding to difficult behaviours of declining mental function, and dealing with intense personal emotions triggered by caregiving are only three of many issues that can arise for caregivers.

Fortunately in BC, there are useful, easily available resources to support folks who support our vulnerable citizens as informal caregivers.

Family Caregivers Network Society (www.fcns.caregiving.org) has much information; especially useful are recorded webinars that explore the most difficult issues of family caregiving.

Locally, the Caregiver Network for EK Seniors Society offers monthly, facilitated support groups in communities throughout the region. Telephone support and resource information are also available for those who can’t come to a group.

A major intent with these programs is to decrease isolation and empower informal caregivers to take care of themselves, as they support their vulnerable family member or friend. Contact this service, by calling toll free 1-877- 489-0803.

One final reflection, the demographics are predictive. My baby boomer generation needs to be investing time and energy now, to strengthen our personal social networks. In the near future, our sheer numbers will require that we become ‘family’ caregivers for each other.

Darcy Russell/Caregiver Network for EK Seniors Society