Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Why Gordon Campbell makes me - and health care workers - so angry

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday June 19, 2007

Let's get angry with Gordo


The world needs anger. The world often continues to allow evil because it isn't angry enough.

- Father Bede Jarrett

Maybe it's the lousy June weather or paying taxes for a non-stop stream of "B.C. is the best place on earth" television ads - like we don't already know! - but I can't believe how angry I am with the B.C. Liberal government.

The most likely reason, however, is Premier Gordon Campbell's outrageous attitude.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled this month that Bill 29, legislation Campbell used to rip up collective agreements, was illegal. About 8,000 healthcare workers lost their jobs to privatization.

Meanwhile about 650 more healthcare workers face firing shortly, thanks to employers still using Bill 29.

But now Campbell says he won't stop the layoff notices.

So more workers will be terminated - because the court gave the government up to 12 months to fix the problem and Campbell says he's in "no hurry".

Then I got this letter from a healthcare worker.

"Thanks for your article in 24 hours. Finally I felt someone was on our side after five years of disbelief and complete frustration. I also wanted to take this opportunity to give sincere gratitude to the six judges who saw what us health-care workers saw all along," this woman wrote. [I can't even identify her for fear she would be disciplined.]

"However, I wish they never gave Mr. Campbell a year to fix this. Mr. Campbell never gave any of the health-care workers a year," she continued.

"I have been a health- care worker for the past 21 years in the same facility.

"I started as care aide, housekeeper and my current position as a laundry aide. I wanted the public to know we are hard workers who care about the people who are in our care," she said.

"If you think I only do laundry you are truly wrong. These people are in my heart. When I walk by and they ask me to help them, I do with a smile," she concluded, after pointing out her wages were also dramatically cut by the Liberals.

Why were so many hard working, honest people who care about their patients mistreated so badly? And does Campbell allow it to continue for another year?

But that's not all I'm mad about. Campbell and Health Minister George Abbott blame "judicial activism" for the Supreme Court decision.

Since when is it "judicial activism" to expect a government to respect legally-binding, freely-negotiated written agreements?

It's bad enough that this government consistently breaks its word - remember Campbell promising he wouldn't sell B.C. Rail and then did? - but legislatively violating legal contracts is even more appalling.

And continuing to abuse health care workers is unconscionable.


Anonymous said...

I share your outrage! As one who is living with HIV disease I have become intimately aquainted with St.Pauls Hospital in Vancouver over the past ten years and have seen the dramatic changes (amounting to wholesale chaos) which Campbell's cutbacks have caused. I'd unelect the s.o.b. for that alone, never mind his other predations.

Anonymous said...

He treats workers with disresect because in his little mind he can go right on doing so. He has hurt many sections of the provicne but still got reelected so he figures, hey the folks that count like what I'm doing so to heck with the courts. dl

Budd Campbell said...

Clearly the HEU was singled out for very special treatment.

That's because the Federal Liberals in Campbell's BC Liberal Party, which includes a large police and prisons contingent, look upon the HEU as a Communist led organization, and therefore "fair game" for 1950s style political hardball.

In addition, the Conservatives in his so-called Liberal coalition view the HEU, and to some degree the BC Ferry and Marine Workers Union as well, as labour organizations that place far too much emphasis on decreasing inequality, that is raising relatively more the pay of the less skilled workers who have lower levels of official credentials. The Conservatives ignore other factors such as long term personal suitability, on the job learning, and levels of responsibility.

It's the kind of talk you hear on the street all the time, how scandalous it is that someone who is "just serving hot dogs" on the Ferries is paid $20 per hour. The same kind of remarks can be heard about people in hospitals whose jobs aren't directly medical in nature, the cooks and cleaners.

The big question now is what Gordon Campbell's next step is. As you point out, Bill, the signs that the Premier has learned anything positive are hard to see at best.

Could it be that Campbell, Oppal and perhaps former Attorney-General Plant, plus Taylor, Hansen and Abbott, are at this very moment thinking about the unthinkable, that is, invoking the notwithstanding clause in order to prop up Bill 29?

munroe said...

Right on, as always, Bill. You note the early remarks of the Libs. Denial and spin, denial and spin. In today's Sun, you find Hochstein of the ICBA weighing in again (after a Province letter, te Sun gave him greater prominence). He sums up what the extra-parliamentary pitbulls will say and repeat "oh poor government,the terrble judges have CREATED a huge problem for B.C.".

I don't reserve my anger for just the Liberal government. It extends to this type of nonsense and the corporate media who promote it. I predict we'll see some Fraser Institute dude publishing a "study" suporting the use of the notwithstanding clause.

Anonymous X said...

Bill does anything surprise you about this man?
I won't rip up contracts - contracts were ripped up.
We won't privatize the Coquihalla -thankfully he was stopped.
I won't sell BC Rail - he sold BC Rail, sorry leased it for 999 years.
Tax cuts will pay for themselves - they didn't.
I will hold Ministers and myself to a higher standard - the Maui thing speaks for itself.
I will resign if I take a gold plated pension - I guess the current pension is platinum plated hence no reason for him to resign.
I will lead by example - senior members of the premier's office involved in a dirty tricks campaign.
I won't hire friends and insiders -sorry what was the name of that DM who was the former president of the bc liberal party?? Lets not forget the "blabby deputy minister" who worked for the new car dealers.
This man is a cotrol freak who will say anything to anyone at anytime with no regard for the destructive outcomes of his actions.
The chickens have come home to roost gordo and what's driving you crazy is the fact you have no control over any of this! Hopefully your underlings in the premiers office are reading this. Ladies and gentlemen remember one thing, your next! This man will cut your throat and smile as it happens.

Anonymous said...

I do like the irony of the SCC coming out with its decision shortly after the MLAs voted themselves a HUGE raise - based on a cherry picked report by out of touch types.

I'll take "judicial activism" over 'selective skimming' any day.

@ munroe: I read Hochstein's letter in today's Sun... It doesn't look to me that he read the SCC's decision - just a factless kneejerk reaction.

Note: The SCC relied on the original trial judge's (Garson) findings of fact in 2002. This was the time when the BC Liberals were endlessly flogging the term "structural deficit" - that horse is dead now (the primary inventors have disowned the term). Even a casual reading of history will show that the NDP left the province's books in fair shape. Any financial difficulties the BC Liberals faced were due to their reckless tax cuts for the rich.

Deep Throat said...

Anonymous X;

Well done. Bravo. You understand one of the existential underpinnings that drive this “man”!

Yes indeed, the emperor has no clothes.

By the way, you historical knowledge is quite impressive, but unfortunately you forgot to mention an even earlier tale about this “man” that Art Cowie can tell.

Anonymous said...

And then there's the elephant in the middle of the room- the shameful failure of the union movement in BC to stand with and for the HEU.

Gary E said...

I'm sorry anonymous 10:05? Do you happen to know the lawyers who brought this to the supreme court? Do you know who paid there bills. Give us a break and do some research before spouting off in these blogs.
On the main matter here Bill, I too am sickened by the utter childishness of this government. Not being a lawyer I am almost at a loss as to how to turn this thing around. But in reading the Constitution Act, the privacy acts, and the BC Elections act, in particular s256 and s150 on invalid elections I feel that there may be some (faint) hope.
Now to find a sympathetic lawyer.

Anonymous said...

Deep Throat;

You mentioned a name that I have not heard in a long time. Art Cowie is the first victim in a body count that leads right up to the west annex. Interesting you mention Art Cowie.

Budd Campbell said...

What on earth does Art Cowie have to do with this? He has never been associated with any of David Anderson's network, at least not that I know of.

Trish said...

I am a LPN in HEU and in the public health care system. Yes we are angry with Gordon Campbell.
We work very hard at our jobs. We are very skilled and trained. We constantly upgrade out education. We are not the reason health care costs so much. I do not think anyone needing our care would not want us so highly trained. I still remember the day Bill 37 passed and I remember the day we pulled down the lines and as I was driving to work hearing on my car radio hospital management got 33%+ raises. If things are as bad in the province as the Liberals want us to believe then why is there so much money for raises for management level and higher? Only the low wage earners have to take the cut?
Gordon appears to laugh in our face. Gordon is pushing us for a confrontation. He almost got it once and I am hoping if he does not react soon this will give him that confrontation.
My job is physically, mentally and emotionally challenging and draining. We work short staffed and yet we carry on and make sure it is not our patients that suffer. The hospital saves money on those wages not paid. Through all the cuts to health care it is us the front end workers that keep the system working, yet Gordon makes me feel devalued. I do my job because I love what I am doing. I do not like that now I go home feeling I compromised on my care because of shortage. The nights I have to call an exhausted family in because their parent is going through delirium and we are so short staffed the only other option is 4 point restraints to bed. Our seniors being treated to tied to a bed. It is disgusting. I can tell of many other horrors our system has come too. Gordon I deserve credit for the hard work I do.

Anonymous said...

The BC Liberals are getting it 'upside-the-head' on health care this weekend.

Vaughn Palmer -- Behind the whiteout, some millions missing for two health regions

Les Leyne -- Liberals ignored their experts in gutting health deals

Tom Sandborn -- More Firings, Health Workers Claim