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BC FORUM Members in Action! 2009

BC FORUM members in action at union and community events

BC FORUM encourages members to take action on issues of importance - then let us know what you’ve done! Letters to the Editor, articles you have had published or any media you may have been involved with - send us a link or a copy of what you’ve done and we will list them here!

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Report from Lynda Zorn,
BC FORUM North Okanagan Labour Council delegate
to North Okanagan Labour Council Meeting, Dec. 9, 2009


As BC FORUM’s North Okanagan delegate, I just attended a conference in Vancouver December 7 and 8.

David Rice, CLC, was the guest speaker Dec. 7, talking about the CLC’s 3 point plan regarding pension reform and encouraging local labour councils to meet with their MPs to lobby for its adoption. I was happy to report that NOLC had already planned on doing so. He also revealed the plan to amalgamate NOLC and SOBLC.

The next day it was David Porteous, outlining the WE group of services. You will find pamphlets and other information on the back table. Along with BCFL, WE has been very supportive of BC FORUM in terms of money, staff and office space, as well as helping fund the conference.

During some lively discussions, I was surprised by the expertise and wealth of experience fellow delegates brought to the table.

The CLC has recommended labour councils change their bylaws to accommodate regional delegates with a voice but no vote or office, and I appreciate NOLC doing just that. Most delegates were happy with those limitations, but a couple reported their labour councils were too small for them to function without delegates holding office, and one said his had gone even further by passing a resolution removing all restrictions.

Since one of the main aims of BC FORUM is to ensure the continuing liaison of retirees and the labour movement, stressing the allowable age of 50 for membership to employees still in the labour force would foster that objective.

We were also reminded that some unions will pay first year BC FORUM membership and some delegates felt we should offer it carte blanche to everyone.

In response to Sister Cheryl Stone’s question of a receipt acknowledging paid membership, I suggested BC FORUM could furnish delegates with cards that would allow them to fill in the applicant’s name and the date upon receiving the $15 fee, then forward the funds and info to BC FORUM office in timely batches, hopefully saving the latter some time. The suggestion seemed to solicit a favourable response from delegates because of its immediacy.

Existing members have different due dates for membership renewal because of the free $2500 group accident insurance coverage. If you are unsure of yours, I have the list to consult.

There are information pamplets, with application forms, on the back table. You can also apply on line, and view the current edition of the Advocate, press releases etc.


BC FORUM member Val McWilliams sent a letter to the Editor in response to the article published in the Vancouver Sun on October 8, 2009, “Judge tosses out suit over retirees’ benefits”


Dear Editor:

There is little left to be said about this ruling except "Why am I not surprised?" Employees and ex-employees these days have little expectation of respect or recompense for their years of service to this Province.

The plight of pensioners whose benefits were summarily removed by the Campbell Government during the draconian cutbacks in their first term, has been well stated in many letters and articles over the years. At the time the class action suit was initiated it was pointed out, repeatedly, that during these employees' working lives, pension deductions were compulsory, were not negotiable, and in years when there were only very small (or no) pay increases, reassurances that pension benefits on retirement were inviolate was the carrot on the stick to bring bargaining to a quick conclusion.

Now roughly 27,000 retirees who asked only for restoration of these promised benefits, have once again been denied relief which could provide a modicum of comfort in their senior years. They should not be reduced to begging for benefits which are due to them. What was asked for in this class action was fair - simply a restoration of the benefits promised them.

"Permissive phraseology" in the legislation? "Discretionary nature" of the benefits? Whatever happened to "inviolate"?

Yours sincerely,

Val McWilliams

October, 2009

Speaking out on the HST

The HST is one more insidious piece of legislation proposed by the Stephen Harper Federal Government that shifts costs from their business and corporate partners onto the Canadian taxpayer.

And let us not forget that Prime Minister Harper has the support of BC’s Premier Gordon Campbell, who also endorses imposing another new tax on BC taxpayers and consumers.

The HST will add additional financial hardship for seniors, the unemployed and those thousands of Canadians with incomes well below the established poverty line.

British Columbians must deliver, and articulate a clear message to both federal and provincial governments, reminding them that we have had enough of their devious back room deals and don’t want nor do we support the proposed HST. If provincial and federal politicians insist on imposing the HST on Canadians, I suggest they risk doing so at their own peril!


Millie Canessa,


Sent by BC FORUM member Val McWilliams to the Victoria Times Colonist
on Sept. 27/09


Dear Editor:

Tommy Douglas once said “Courage my friends, ‘tis not too late to build a better world...”

I wonder if he ever envisaged a Canada where his better world would be reduced to a case where a Kamloops senior, suffering a debilitating medical condition, would have to travel by Handidart to the local hospital for a weekly bath because her home care has been cut back and she will no longer have a worker to assist her with bathing at home.

A woman living below the poverty line, frail, elderly and who needs lots of time even for something as simple as dressing herself, now will have to dress and undress twice in the one day in order to save a few pennies for a government who thinks nothing of wasting millions on a two week party in 2010.

Can there possibly be any action on the part of overpaid number-crunchers more shameful than this?

Yours sincerely,
Val McWilliams
Victoria, BC

July, 2009

A written contribution by Millie Canessa, BC FORUM member

What happened to the Romanow Report?

In 2002 Canada’s federal Liberal government commissioned the Honourable Roy Romanow to research and review the future of Canada’s healthcare system.

In its report, the ROYAL COMMISSION ON THE FUTURE OF HEALTHCARE IN CANADA proposed, (among others), the following recommendations to Canada’s healthcare system:

1. SUSTAINING MEDICARE - The issue needs to be assessed from three dimensions, - services, needs and resources.

2. HEALTH CARE, CITIZENSHIP AND FEDERALISM - Create a Health Council of Canada to facilitate collaborative leadership in health.

3. INFORMATION, EVIDENCE AND IDEAS - Establishment of electronic health records for each Canadian.

4. INVESTING IN HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS - Review current education and training for health care providers.

5. PRIMARY HEALH CARE AND PREVENTION - Implement primary health care and transform Canada’s health care system.

6. IMPROVING ACCESS, ENSURING QUALITY - Use the new diagnostic Services Fund to shorten waiting times for diagnostic services. Implement better ways of managing wait lists.

7. RURAL AND REMOTE COMMUNITIES - Establish a new Rural and Remote Access fund to support new approaches for delivering health care services to people in rural and remote communities.

8. HOME CARE: THE NEXT ESSENTIAL SERVICE - Revise the Canada Health Act to include coverage of home care services. Expand the Canada Health Act to include coverage for post-acute home care, including medication management and rehabilitation.

9. PRESCRIPTION DRUGS - Take steps to integrate prescription drugs into Canada’s health care system. Establish a new National Drug Agency to control costs and evaluate new and existing drugs. Review aspects of Canadian patent law.

10. A NEW APPROACH TO ABORIGINAL HEALTH - Address the serious disparities in health for Canada’ Aboriginal peoples.

11. HEALTH CARE AND GLOBALIZATION - Take clear and immediate steps to protect Canada’s health care system from possible challenges under international law and trade agreements, and to build alliances within the international community. Play a leadership role in international efforts to improve health and strengthen healthcare systems in developing countries,

What happened to the report and its recommendations?

Why have successive federal governments not implemented the recommended changes to health care? What benefit has the Canadian taxpayer received for their $1.5 million contribution?

Thousands of Canadians expressed support for the Romanow Commission recommended changes to health care, and through letters, emails, petitions and public meetings, urged both federal and provincial governments to enact legislation and implement the recommendations, immediately.

Poll after poll, enquiry after enquiry, continue to show that thousands of Canadians support Medicare, and even suggest that publicly funded health care is sustainable. Why do federal and provincial governments continue to ignore the wishes of their constituents? Do they believe governments are only accountable to the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, Fraser Institute, or corporate sponsors?

Or perhaps, the federal government is waiting until August 2009, when Canada, Mexico and the United States will again meet behind closed doors to discuss an agenda for further integration between the three countries, under the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP). It is possible such an agreement could have a direct impact on Canada’s publicly funded healthcare system.

Yes, Canada’s healthcare system requires change, but we must ensure it remains publicly funded and administered, under the guidelines and principles of the Canada Health Act. These are among the Romanow Commission’s strongest recommendations. Medicare has served Canada well for over 40 years!

Canadians have waited patiently for answers. It is now time that the Harper federal government enacts legislation and begins implementing the changes recommended by the ROYAL COMMISSION ON THE FUTURE OF HEALTHCARE IN CANADA.

Letter to the Editor, July 29, 2009

The Premier and Finance Minister should resign from government. Important emails were destroyed in relation to the BC Rail corruption trial.

This province belongs to the people and we did not give away. The privatization of our province has to stop – BC Rail, BC Hydro, BC Transit, BC Gas, BC Ferries.

The Premier is selling out our rivers and streams to private power. Diverting billions of our tax dollars to foreign and international corporations.

The Premier has ignored the destruction of wild salmon that fish farms cause. Farmed fish are not fit to eat and are not good for your health.

No to any new taxes.

With all the scandals and controversies it is time for the Premier and the Finance Minister to resign. There's a question of accountability to the people of the province.

Robert Harriott

BC FORUM member Mildred Canessa notes this letter was sent to newspapers in Langley, Burnaby, the Sun and Province newspapers. The letter was printed in the July 15 edition of the Langley Times.


Corporations have too much policy influence

July 10, 2009


While reviewing files kept over the years, I came across a copy of a letter to the editor in the May 14, 2004 Langley Advance from BC Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair, who was responding to a citizen’s complaint that unions were a source of the province’s economic downturn.

On reflection, I agree with Sinclair’s comments in that letter, and am of the opinion that they are as true in 2009 as they were in 2004. He said, and I quote, “The erosion of democracy, increasing inequality, and decline in voter participation that we see in BC and Canada today are directly related to the growing influence of corporations on our elected leaders.”

I am deeply concerned for the future of Canada as a nation, as well as that of my grandchildren and future generations. Will Canada and British Columbia still be the “the best place on earth” once provincial and federal governments, complete the privatization and giveaway of Canada’s resources and sovereignty, through globalization, NAFTA, TILMA and the SPP?

Will governments continue to provide Canadians access to publicly funded programs such as healthcare, pensions, homecare, affordable housing, etc? Or will such programs be available only through profit-motivated corporations?

It’s something to think about!


Millie Canessa

Langley, BC

June, 2009

New Health Minister contradicts legislation

In a letter written to the new Health Minister, Kevin Falcon, BC FORUM member Mildred Canessa noted recent comments quoted in the media find the Minister in "blatant contradiction of legislation provided under the rules of the Canada Health Act."

Canessa is a supporter of Canada's current health care system and believes it is sustainable, but only when governments and their associates practice due diligence and work together with all Canadians and societies to assess and strive to improve Canada's publicly funded Medicare system.

Canessa has not yet received a response.


June 27, 2009

The Honourable Kevin Falcon
Minister of Health
Province of British Columbia
Victoria, BC


I am shocked and concerned that as the newly elected Provincial Minister of Health you have been quoted in the media as saying you do not have a problem with a person paying the higher fees charged by private clinics, as long as that person has the money to pay for the specialized treatment.

As Minister of Health you must surely be aware that this is a blatant contradiction of legislation provided under the rules of the Canada Health Act.

While it has been said time and time again, that Canada has one of the best healthcare systems in the world, why do Canadians complacently accept governments, medical professionals, corporations and the media, constantly endeavouring to convince us that MEDICARE is no longer sustainable, and should be changed to a two-tier, for profit healthcare system?

Have you ever considered or thought about the options available to someone who is suddenly ill and requires immediate medical attention? If you do not have the required finances or don't have the benefit of taxpayer funded public Medicare, how would you pay for hospitalization and treatment? Would a privatized healthcare system provide you with the necessary financial assistance in your time of need?

Have you ever suffered a serious illness prior to the introduction of MEDICARE, or perhaps since the implementation of the Canada Health Act? Well I have.

NEVER AGAIN should persons who don't have the financial means to pay for treatment for their illness under a privatized for-profit healthcare system, go through the humiliation and anguish that my parents suffered for years during my childhood, over several years of care and treatment in a hospital. It is only through the generosity and kindness of a dedicated physician who treated me as one of his own, that I as a senior citizen am still able to talk about my passion for not-for-profit MEDICARE.

Yes, I know that benefits are being violated and ignored on a regular basis by governments and others, and I also understand governments' concerns around continually mounting costs for health care.

I believe that MEDICARE is sustainable, but only when governments and societies to assess and strive to improve Canada's publicly funded MEDICARE system.

Mildred Canessa

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