Archives for March 2017
B.C. gives over $1.8 million in grants to fight invasive plants
VICTORIA – The B.C. government is handing out over $1.8 million in new grants to help control the spread of invasive plants in the province, Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson and Minister of State for Rural Economic Development Donna Barnett announced today.
The 31 grants are being distributed to regional invasive species committees, local governments and the Invasive Species Council of British Columbia to support their ongoing work to deal with the unwelcome plants and to support the objectives of the provincial Invasive Plant Program.
Over the next three years, the B.C. government is committing over $20 million to invasive plant management.
Invasive plants are species that have been introduced into British Columbia from other areas. They displace native vegetation, can cause significant economic and environmental damage, and may pose a health risk to people and animals. Invasive plants can disrupt ecosystems, reduce biodiversity, increase soil erosion, alter soil chemistry and adversely affect commercial crops.
From: Larson.MLA, Linda
Sent: Tuesday, March 28, 2017 4:40 PM
Subject: RE: New submission from Contact Your Constituency
There is no closing of beds, just reconfiguration. There have been 18 beds for the last 5 years and we will continue to have 18 acute care beds.
A second response from MLA to a constituent: “No loss to any IH service we currently have.”
There will be no change to the funded beds at South Okanagan General Hospital (SOGH), and no impact to patient care. The funded total of beds at SOGH is 18, which has stayed the same for more than five years.
o This number is based on the average number of admitted patients at the hospital.
o Data shows that for the past three years, SOGH requires, on average, 18 beds.
– Interior Health has a duty to use taxpayer dollars in the most responsible manner possible, and that means providing resources for the number of beds required, which at this time, is 18.
– Dr. Entwistle may be referring to additional physical beds that are unfunded, and have been on site for many years. In order to ensure the continued delivery of safe patient care, IH is, in collaboration with physicians and nursing staff, exploring plans to identify opportunities to decrease four-bed rooms wherever possible and create a few single rooms for patients who require isolation and special care requirements. This reconfiguration would not be taken from the current 18 beds, but from extra beds used during times of congestion.
– Interior Health confirms that South Okanagan General Hospital Chief of Staff, Dr. Peter Entwistle, has resigned from his position as Chief of Staff. However, he will continue to practice as a physician at the hospital. IH wants to thank him for his dedication and tireless pursuit of excellence as a physician and leader at Interior Health. IH looks forward to continuing to work with Dr. Entwistle as he will remain on staff at SOGH.
– It is too early to say who will replace Dr. Entwistle, as IH has only just been made aware of his resignation. It will be business as usual in the meantime, with no impact to patient care. There is interim coverage of his position by the current Chief of Staff at Penticton who is familiar with SOGH, while IH works on next steps.
Patient Care Quality Office
Community Health and Services Center
Interior Health Authority (IHA) manager Carl Meadows confirmed the authority has struck a staff working group “that is looking at future configuration at SOGH at Oliver” – ” but we have not made a decision on those (six extra) beds.”
Meadows, the South Okanagan health services administrator, speaking to the Penticton Herald said “there has been no change to the number of taxpayer-funded beds at SOGH for at least five years, and none is planned”.
“We have 18 taxpayer-funded beds that will continue to be run with good financial management, and we have an emergency department that we will continue to have staffing 24-7,” he said.
Interior Health plans to hire a new chief of staff, who will be responsible for things like approving doctor privileges at the hospital and other administrative duties, but in the meantime will rely on Penticton Regional Hospital’s top doctor to look after Oliver.
Dr. Peter Entwistle made his resignation as SOGH chief of staff public on Monday at a meeting of Oliver town council, during which elected officials voted to write a letter of protest.
Entwistle’s commentary to council is entirely contrary to what the IHA is saying.
Some councillors also suggested that removing beds from SOGH is a prelude to closing the facility and sending patients to Penticton, but Meadows flatly denied it.
“That’s inaccurate. Full stop,” he said, noting SOGH and PRH enjoy a reciprocal relationship that often sees patients transferred between the two facilities.
“There’s absolutely no intention to change the 18 taxpayer-funded beds or to change the 24-7 emergency service that South Okanagan has right now,” said Meadows.
“I want to reassure the public that we give great care at that hospital, the physicians give great care, and that is not going to change.”
See earlier stories on doctor shortages, cuts in ward beds and the concerns of Oliver Town Council and residents to closures and cutbacks of nurses, ward beds etc.
Destination Osoyoos heading home as province gets out of local tourism
By ROY WOOD
The Osoyoos proposal is part of a larger, province-wide change in strategy by Destination BC to get out of local tourism marketing and move it back into communities.
Destination Osoyoos (DO) executive director Kelly Glazer pitched town council last week on her proposal to move the town’s economic development and tourism marketing organization from downtown to the visitor centre.
In her presentation, Glazer said: “DO has been presented with the opportunity to relocate operations currently used as the BC Visitor Centre. … The location would no longer be a provincial visitor centre and would become a community visitor centre … eligible for provincial visitor network funding.”
DO currently pays about $25,000 a year in rent for its downtown location plus some incidental costs. Glazer said that under the proposed agreement DO would pay the province $30,000 a year in rent for five years starting in 2018.
Glazer said her organization would likely be able to tap into about $50,000 a year from a provincial funding program.
Mayor Sue McKortoff said in an interview Tuesday she sees no reason why the town won’t accede to the request. “But we do have to go through the procedure correctly,” she said.
The mayor said she sees no downside in DO making the move. “It’s where DO was before in moved down here. … (And) it certainly makes sense to keep that building. If they are going to close it down, we don’t want somebody else taking it over,” she said.
According to DO’s past board chair Don Brogan his organization was the first to occupy the building starting in about 2007. “The town became a resort municipality and … the province wanted to build a gateway visitor centre for the province in Osoyoos.”
DO signed a five-year contract to run the centre. But at the end of it, in 2012, Destination BC did not renew the contract. “They went with another contractor,” Brogan said in an interview Tuesday. That’s when DO moved downtown.
Brogan said that after losing the contract, he went to Victoria for a “debriefing. … (They) said we didn’t get renewed because we were too Osoyoos-centric and this was a BC centre, not an Osoyoos centre.”
Five years later the province wants to do an about face and return tourism marketing to the community.
Recently, Brogan said, “We’ve been let know by the grape vine that they’d be interested in us getting the contract back to manage it. It’s a great location and it’s where we should have been in the first place.”
Destination BC media liaison Clare Mason said in an interview Monday: “We have a new visitors services strategy over the past few years. We are looking who are best positioned to provide visitor services where and when people need them.
“Our intent is to make sure visitor services are delivered where people need them and by the people who are best able to deliver those services … the folks in the community.”
Mason said similar switches from provincial o local tourism services are taking place in Merritt and Golden.
Brenda Dorosz of Osoyoos tells ODN that a surgical procedure is being performed today in Kelowna.
Lee Horn waited over two years for doctors to diagnose the reason for his pain and has been waiting an additional 500 days for surgery for a hip replacement.
She said she has watched him deteriorate ever since while awaiting a hip replacement.
“The wait is horrific. It has gone on forever,” she said.
“We’ve paid into a system all our lives, so that when we get to this age and something goes wrong, we believed, wrongly, that the government would be there for us.”
“The Liberal government has not been there for us. They keep cutting, cutting and cutting.”
By ROY WOOD
A persistent staff shortage and the prospect of a significant work-load increase because of the new provincial jail has RCMP area commander Sgt. Blaine Gervais concerned about the department’s workload.
At his quarterly appearance before town council Monday, Gervais said that because of one un-filled position and two Mounties on long-term leave, the detachment staffing is down by 25 per cent.
He said he has been told by senior management that “we are in the lineup for more resources,” but so are lots of other detachments. “Everyone has a shortage.”
He said the new Okanagan Correctional Centre (OCC), which is slowly filling, is adding to the number of calls serviced by Oliver Mounties. When OCC reaches capacity later this year, it will mean “200 extra calls a month.”
Mayor Ron Hovanes said the town has assurances from the province that it will cover any extra policing costs that result from the jail. He had no specifics on how or when the province will come up with the extra funds.
Gervais also pointed to the situation in Osoyoos as being of concern. It is not clear, he said, now that Osoyoos will be a municipally-run department whether it will continue to police the rural area around the town.
He said he hopes that senior management doesn’t say, “Oliver, you’re around, why don’t you suck it up and cover the (Osoyoos) rural area.”
Meanwhile, Gervais had some good new for council with his quarterly crime stats. Incidents are significantly down over a broad range of offences, including assaults, breaking and entering, vehicle thefts and shoplifting.
Fraud, drug possession and vaguely defined “disturbances” were up in the quarter. Drinking and driving enforcement also showed a significant jump with 13 24-hour suspensions compared to one in the previous quarter and impaired driving charges jumped from three to eight.
Resignation fans fears for future of SOGH
By ROY WOOD
The resignation of South Okanagan General Hospital (SOGH) chief of staff Dr. Peter Entwistle is raising worry on town council that the days of the acute care facility in Oliver may be numbered.
Council will send a letter of protest as two members voiced their fears that reductions in the number of beds at the facility could be part of a longer-term plan to get rid of acute care in the Oliver-Osoyoos region.
Entwistle told council Monday he has resigned because of concerns over the quality of patient care at the hospital in two specific areas: staffing the emergency room (ER); and the province’s decision to reduce the number of beds by 25 per cent.
He said, “Covering the emergency room (with physicians) is an ongoing pressure” and has taken its toll on him and his family practice. As chief of staff it is his responsibility and, when no other physician could be found, he often has found himself personally covering extra shifts, particularly overnight shifts.
The ER situation is tolerable at least in the short term, as three physicians have been hired to work in emergency. But doctor shortages in the ER are a chronic problem at SOGH. Last spring the department had to curtail overnight service for more than a month because there simply weren’t enough doctors available.
The greater issue around patient care concerns the province’s decision to cut the number of beds at the hospital by 25 per cent, from 24 to 18.
Entwistle said the move will have a serious impact on patient care and is going ahead despite his “strong objections.”
Having fewer beds available means that more admitted patients will end up staying in the ER rather than being moved onto the wards. He said studies have shown a detrimental effect on patients who are kept in the ER, including one that indicated one in 50 such patients will die who otherwise wouldn’t have.
Entwistle indicated he will take his concerns about the hospital into the political arena. Funding health care is a provincial responsibility, he said, “(and) there is an election going on right now. It’s a good time to ask for answers. … My intention is to speak out during the electoral process.”
Councillor Larry Schwartzenberger asked if the move to reduce the number of beds at the Oliver hospital could be “the thin edge of the wedge” as more patients are sent to Penticton.
Councillor Jack Bennest agreed, saying, “This is just a step toward moving patients to Penticton and (making) the SOGH a geriatric facility. … The emergency room is important to the South Okanagan. … We have to stand up.”
Council voted to send a letter to Interior Health, which has management responsibility for the SOGH, noting the resignation of Entwistle and emphasizing the importance of the hospital to the region.
Osoyoos council will be also asked to sign the letter, as will the Osoyoos Indian Band and the regional district.
The chief of staff at South Okanagan General resigns March 31st over concerns about the continued erosion of patient care in the health facility in Oliver.
Dr. Peter Entwistle said IHA ( Interior Health ) is planning to decrease the actual number of hospital beds in Oliver from 24 to 18. That is a decrease of 25%.
“That means that patients will be forced to be left on beds in the emergency department in Oliver; that is really not good patient care” says Entwistle.
Interior Health is responsible for all decisions at the SO General Hospital.
Entwistle has been chief of staff at SOGH since 2009 and has been practicing medicine for more than 30 years.
Without his efforts and those of SOME other doctors – the emergency ward at SOGH would be closed and all patients needing emergency care would be transported to Penticton.
Councillors in Oliver will write to the Minister of Health, IHA, the local MLA, Town of Osoyoos and OIB to get support for keeping the hospital at a high level of care 24/7 as the only hospital between Penticton and Grand Forks.
Of the eight general practitioners in Osoyoos listed by the College of Physicians, none are taking new patients.
“At least a year,” said Brenda Dorosz, referring to wait lists for a family doctor in Osoyoos. “It’s just really bad.”
Dorosz has launched a petition calling for more medical services in Osoyoos, and says she will be meeting with other concerned residents in the coming weeks to formulate a plan to help attract a new doctor to town. She also believes the community can support a walk-in clinic.
“We want to draw attention to the issue, but then we also want to not just stand here and scream… just wanting to be proactive moving forward and make sure the town council knows we are serious about this.”
Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff is already well aware of the issue, and says attracting a doctor to town is a complicated task. “There are things that are being done, but to be fair, a doctor’s practice is a personal business so it’s not like you can say, ‘you have to come here and set up.'” McKortoff says Osoyoos is a part of the “rural practice initiative,” which also includes Princeton, Keremeos and Oliver – a group that works to improve health care and bring doctors to the South Okanagan. “We are not ignoring the issue, but it’s not something, I see that somebody in town is trying to get a petition going to bring more doctors here, well it’s kind of more complicated than just doing that – but we understand people are concerned.
Thanks to Castanet
Environmental firstname.lastname@example.org is the email address for anyone who wishes to express their opinion to the Department of the Environment concerning the air pollution from open burning.
Personally, I have two chronic breathing conditions and am very much affected by smoke in he air and must stay inside when there is poor venting of the smoke.
Portable monitors are available therefore I would appreciate the government bringing this technology to the Oliver area to get a true reading of the index.
When I phone the venting index for the day from Penticton, the Oliver area is not included in their areas of reporting. I wonder why that is?
So please take a moment to send your complaint, if you have one, to
Linda Larson, Boundary-Similkameen MLA –
“The Okanagan Valley is famous for its wine, and the wine created at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards, located on the Golden Mile Bench, is full of B.C. flavours. Thanks to government programs like Buy Local, funding is supporting local agrifood companies in reaching new audiences and new markets all over the province.”
Jan Nelson, sales and marketing manager, Tinhorn Creek Vineyards –
“Innovation and experimentation is what drives industry forward and prompts improvements that benefit consumers and industry alike. Although experimentation occurs in many wineries, the lack of scale of these micro-projects often means the resulting wine gets blended away, and the findings go on to influence future winemaking decisions.
“With the support of the Buy Local program, Tinhorn Creek was able to develop a program focusing on innovation in our vineyards and cellar, and then package these micro-lot wines for the enjoyment of our customers. These wines will also be shared with media and influencers in order to promote awareness and help advance the reputation of the B.C. wine industry as a world-class wine growing region.”
OLIVER – From soil to sunshine to scenic vineyards, wineries throughout B.C. are giving British Columbians a diverse sensory experience that is as extraordinary as the province itself.
Locally owned and operated Tinhorn Creek Vineyards is a recipient of the provincial government’s Buy Local program funding. With funding up to $25,000, the company is creating brand concept and design for a new wine being released.
The funding received will be used to launch a campaign to promote the new wine release and host tasting events for media and trade representatives to increase awareness of Tinhorn’s products and brand.
Tinhorn Creek Vineyards is bringing innovation in the vineyard and cellar to the wine glasses of British Columbians all over the province. The company has been producing premium and ultra-premium table wines from the Okanagan Valley since 1993.
The B.C. government has committed $14 million to the Buy Local Program since 2012, including $6 million over the next three years, announced in Balanced Budget 2017. Approximately 200 B.C. agrifood and seafood companies have expanded their reach and sales in communities throughout B.C. since the program began, with the $8 million of funding accessed to date resulting in $29 million in investments through matching funds.
The B.C. government’s Agrifood and Seafood Strategic Growth Plan supports the building of domestic markets and maintaining a secure food supply. The plan is a component of the BC Jobs Plan, and the roadmap to leading the agrifoods sector to becoming a $15 billion-a-year industry by 2020.
I always thought the phrase “it’s a dog’s life” meant that someone was not enjoying his circumstances and feeling life was unfair. Not so in the life of many of the dogs I know.
True, many poor animals spend their entire life tied up in a yard and don’t enjoy many home comforts. Go out doors on any cold evening and you can hear a few dogs complaining of the frosty weather with a lonely howling. Why have an animal if it is going to live outdoors the whole time. If it is too cold for you outside, it is too cold for your dog.
Our dogs, like many other spoiled pets think that letting the fire go out is cruelty. Never mind that they have spent the evening in their favourite chair or lying by the fireside.
At the moment one dog is draped over the window seat, head on a pillow, the other one is stretched out, flat on her back, in front of the fire. The cat is between my knees as I sit with my feet up. Rather than get off she lies with the laptop computer across her head, an imposition, but not enough to cause her to move.
Dave is very easy going with lots of things, he will eat dinner any time from five pm to nine o’clock, whenever I stir myself to make it. Ditto the freedom of the lunch hour. He is in charge of the first cup of tea in the morning and also breakfast, usually oatmeal, which he serves between 7.30 -9.00am. The furry kids have a different approach, no messing about please, I need some food right now. They usually get a few small biscuits and then go out into the yard to explore and do their toileting, while I stagger out with the birdseed.
We may have a casual approach to our dinner, however, by 4.30 both dogs are sitting waiting for one of us to get up and make their theirs. The closer it gets to five pm the more anxious they get. The restlessness starts around 4.30, a general shuffling around, trying to attract attention, which we both purposely ignore, hoping the other one will do the deed. As five pm approaches there is a restless pacing from two small white bodies and if this is ignored, a quiet whine, followed by gradually increasing throat noises that eventually turn into a yip.
When we can no longer ignore them, one of us gets up to go to the kitchen, at that time, the cat will nonchalantly follow us, trying to look uninterested but casually agreeing to eat at the same time, to save us doing it later.
There is an unbelievable rigidity of the dogs eating habits and woe betide the fool that tries to alter things. First, dogs sit patiently while cat gets fed. She eats on a counter so she doesn’t get disturbed by nosy dogs. While eating her medication is rubbed into one ear, a marvellous way to medicate a cat. Then the dogs get their bowl, one by the water bowl and one by the stove, to avoid theft from the fastest eater. When both bowls are clean, they investigate each others bowl, in case something was missed, it never is. Meanwhile the cat has finished and jumps down. The dogs then have to see if she has left anything in her dish, usually just some really stinky residue that is relished by the scavengers.
The counter gets disinfected and all dishes removed from floor to sink. The job is not yet over however. Both dogs get a half of a chewstick which is taken to the living room carpet to be enjoyed. Both dogs now happy and settle down for a few hours.
Roll on 9.00pm, dogs both ask to go outside, spend a few minutes in the back yard then appear at the door to be let in. If this is not done P.D.Q. there is some very indignant yapping. How dare we not be stood waiting for their return? Whoever gets up to open the door has then got to follow them into the kitchen for their last treat of the day, two biscuits, once again carried to the living room rug. Immediately after she has finished, older dog heads to the bedroom, no point staying up if no more food is coming out.
The young dog stays in the living room until my bedtime. At which time I go outside with her for the last dribble of the day, then we head to bed. We have a king size bed, which is just as well as both dogs sleep on top of it. I arrange myself in my sleeping position, not such an easy event nowadays.
During the latter part of life I have had two frozen shoulders, back surgery and, at the moment, tennis elbow. The latter injury has nothing to do with playing tennis but an over eager session of crocheting. Strange what silly things bother us when we get older. Anyway, so much of me hurts and with arthritis in one knee and one wrist, my sleeping positions are not the casual affair of youth. One pillow goes between my knees. Another pillow under one arm, to support and take the strain off my shoulder. My wrist is in a splint and I keep this straight out on the pillow. My head has a sore area, the result of a car rollover twenty years ago. So I dig a hollow in my feather pillow, to avoid pressure on the tender spot. Quite a production, you must agree.
When I am draped in the right position, the dogs rearrange themselves around my legs and we settle down to sleep, until Dave tries to get in bed. The older dog doesn’t want to be disturbed and makes her displeasure known by throaty growls. Dave very rudely tells her to shut up and does his own bedtime gymnastics with pillows and blankets. Such fun to get old, going to bed is sometimes the most exciting time of our day, and it has very little to do with sex. After all the arrangements of body parts, neither of us want to be disturbed by such activities, we do however fondly remember better times when dogs were kicked off the bed and no thought given to how to arrange aching bodies. Nowadays, we still have the urge, it just isn’t urgent enough to disturb our sleep!
Dave switches off the light and the four of us drift off to sleep, Rosie the cat keeping my chair warm until the next morning. It’s a dog’s life and we all love it.
Have your say on BC politics
See poll at right
Two Glasses of Milk
I came across an old newspaper clipping in my files. It contained a story related by Bruce Prestidge, TFC Executive Director, but a google search did not produce a satisfactory candidate for which organization that was. Having no reason to doubt the story, and since it illustrates the type of kindness needed today, I’ll share it with you.
“One hat summer day a certain man’s automobile broke down in an isolated area of a rural countryside. After walking for several miles the man came to a run-down farm house and saw a little girl playing outside. He approached the edge of the yard, caught the little girl’s attention and called to her, “Could you please give me a drink of water, I’m very thirsty?” “We don’t have any water in the house right now”, the little girl responded, “but I can get you a glass of milk if that would be alright.” The man nodded his head and the little girl brought him the glass of milk and then asked if he would like another. The man said he needed one more glass. After finishing the second glass of milk the man walked into town and got the assistance he needed to get his car repaired.
A few years later the little girl became desperately ill and was taken to a large city hospital for tests. The diagnosis was that she needed immediate surgery in order to live. Not having much money, her parents agonized over the cost of such an operation. They had no choice but to have it done. (Apparently there was no universal health care at that time or place.)
The surgery went well and soon the little girl was at home again. Shortly after she returned home the bill from the hospital came. Her parents opened the letter with dread, knowing that it would take them years to pay.
Inside the envelope was a brief note that read, “Paid in full with two glasses of milk.” The note was signed by the surgeon whose car had broken down that hot summer day.
British Columbia’s education system will receive a $150-million funding boost after the province reached a deal with teachers to restore contract language that called for smaller class sizes.
Education Minister Mike Bernier says the new classroom enhancement fund is in addition to the $180 million announced in this year’s budget, bringing the total to $330 million.
The new funding will mean the hiring of about 1,500 new teachers, in addition to the 1,000 already announced in the budget, and Bernier says they’re now recruiting 2,600 teaching positions from across the country.
The BC Teachers’ Federation announced earlier this month that a majority of its members voted to ratify a deal with the province that would restore contract language from a 2002 agreement.
The deal came after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled last year that a law imposed by the province that blocked teachers’ ability from bargaining class size was unconstitutional.
Bernier says the funding will be ongoing and represents a total investment of $1.7 billion over the next three years, but the province is set to return to the bargaining table with teachers in 2019.