Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Gordon Campbell, George Abbott responsible for deplorable condition of seniors in Victoria's Beacon Hill Villa retirement home

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday October 9, 2007

Old trouble on Beacon Hill


We want seniors to know that they have the support of government. We want them to know that we're created a plan for healthy living that's second to none across the province.

If there's anything more disgusting than the terrible mistreatment of seniors at a Victoria retirement home, it's the hypocritical attitude of the B.C. Liberal government that allowed it to happen.

A senior going without a bath for 11 days. Residents found sitting in wheelchairs in the dark at 1 a.m. because there were not enough staff to put them to bed. A resident who died after being found unattended in a wheelchair with the seatbelt around her neck. A senior's bedspread covered with stool.

These are just a few items from reports about treatment of seniors at Beacon Hill Villa, where last week the Vancouver Island Health Authority finally appointed a public administrator to run the privately owned facility.

And Beacon Hill Villa is just a block from the B.C. Legislature.

The treatment of seniors should never have been allowed to deteriorate to this degrading level.

Why? Because the government had reports of serious problems with Beacon Hill Villa going back to 2002.

And because in 2002 the B.C. Liberals passed Bill 29, a piece of union-busting privatization legislation that let health-care employers fire workers and slash wages and benefits that had been freely negotiated in collective bargaining. About 8,000 workers lost their jobs.

That would be the Bill 29 that the Supreme Court of Canada said violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in a landmark case this year; the Bill 29 that Campbell still refuses to fix so it complies with laws that give workers the right to join unions and bargain collectively.

And the Bill 29 that is still being used to fire hundreds of unionized health-care workers despite the Supreme Court ruling that it is illegal.

So there's little doubt that residents would still be suffering had New Democratic Party leader Carole James not released damning investigations reports going back to 2002 obtained through Freedom Of Information requests.

But why does it take opposition FOIs and intense media coverage before the government acts to protect seniors it already knows are in distress?

Perhaps because Health Minister George Abbott and Campbell know full well that their government is as responsible for the terrible conditions at the Beacon Hill Villa as the owners, Retirement Concepts.

They should be deeply ashamed, but they are not.

Campbell even said: "These matters are taken seriously." Yes, only five years of problems before action was taken.

High sounding words about "healthy living" for seniors mean nothing when our elderly citizens can be found in obscene conditions in a government-funded retirement home.


Anonymous said...

George Abbott sickens me every time I have the misfortune to see him on TV. The vindictive personality, lack of integrity, and lack of caring that he conveys simply with his body language, even before he speaks, is enough to discredit him, and then he speaks. His evasiveness, usually using some comment about the NDP, shows how unlikely he is to ever take responsibility for any of the havoc he has visited upon our province. How the hell did all the high school dorks get so damned much power? That old boys dork club takes such ungracious snide pleasure in putting Carole James down, they could be still be 10 year old boys in the '50's. I avoid having to see them in action because it depresses me to have to do so. These guys couldn't care less about the victims of their stupidity. Who votes for them?

Anonymous said...

The place is a mess with insuffient staff. The story of people waiting hours to get help being put n bed should shame all of us. One wonders how many folks with family members in that and similar places voted for Gordon when he was in opposition? But then as with so many issues Gordo was quick to blame the previous government and just how much better he would be. Well Folks you got him, we all have him, so what do you do next. Spend a little of your time letting him and the Opposition just how you feel. Depending on the polls things can get better, worse, or not change one bit. VIHA have lots of highly paid managers who in appears don't manage all that well. A person dying because a seat belt got , somehow, around her neck is a pretty good indication that somebody is at fault. What a sick group that are being paid to care for our elderly who see profit before people. dl

Anonymous said...

retirement concepts own plenty of nursing homes on the mainland as well as on the island they are in the business to make money and it's the seniors and the staff who suffer. example, right now in a care home they own,there are 4 people working on a night shift in a building full of 150 sick elderly senoirs; two nurses and two care aids spread out over two seperate floors, sometimes there's a third float care aid who helps out from midnight till 6 am but they are concidered "extra," yep that's right two peolpe for each 75 residents,and that's just the start of the nasty stuff. Every home that retirement concepts runs should be under investigation. Everyone who wants to put their mom or dad in a nursing home should ask some serious questions like: what is the care aid to resident ratio and what is the nurse to resident ratio in the day evening and night. the answer might surprise you

Budd Campbell said...

My sister in law is a care aide in Prince George. She stopped working at one facility because the Vancouver doctors who owned it decreed that the patients could only have a ration of three or four adult disposable diapers per day as a cost saving (profit raising?) measure.

I don't suppose one has to ask which provincial political party those doctors support.

It's a relief to see Carole James back on firm ground here, and off the "dumb and dumber" kick. Unfortunately, the damage from that outburst is almost certainly permanent and a very, very long way from trivial.

Anonymous said...

CAn't we put this government in a suitable retirement home? I'm just sick reading about the awful conditions our Health Minister has allowed. Privatization eh?

Anonymous said...

Just because they made it legal to fire health care workers doesn't mean that they made it legal to abuse seniors and seriously understaff medical facilities. You're reaching for straws, Bill. There's a reason why the NDP will never see another majority in this province - God forbid they get any stronger federally.

Anonymous said...

"That would be the Bill 29 that the Supreme Court of Canada said violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in a landmark case this year; the Bill 29 that Campbell still refuses to fix so it complies with laws that give workers the right to join unions and bargain collectively."

Also Bill, looks like you missed something - Bill 29 was said to violate the charter by the SCC on June 8th, 2007, and granted the Liberal government one year to address the problems. Clearly you need to brush up on your knowledge of parliament because parliament HASN'T SAT SINCE THEN. How is Campbell going to address the bill when he and every other provincial politician, Carole James included, is on vacation? Furthermore, the government has until June 8th, 2008 to fix it. Seriously, how did you get hired?

Bill Tieleman said...

Anonymous 10:28 p.m. - it's called the Legislature, not parliament.

And it sits on Monday - lots of time to start obeying the law.

The solution, by the way, requires negotiating with the affected workers' unions as well as amending the offending legislation, something the government has also failed to achieve.

Thanks for paying attention.

Budd Campbell said...

I have said for some time that there's at least some chance the Liberal Govt will invoke the constitution's notwithstanding clause in order to avoid complying with the Supreme Court ruling on Bill 29. To do otherwise would be to admit they were wrong, and would require negotiating not just with any union, but with a particular union towards which the Liberals have shown an extreme degree of hostility and contempt.

Besides, Carol Taylor doesn't wnat to end up "giving away" half a billion dollars in severance payments out of "their" surplus in order to reach a settlement. The Liberals would much rather spend that money on a constituency with which they have some mutual affinity. How about an invigorating, job-producing tax cut for BC's hard working mining industry?

And who knows, maybe the money could be spent on something very useful, such as more R&D funding in the medical and health fields. That's the political game that the Liberal strategist will probably want to play, telling middle and upper income voters that they stubbornly refused to give away half a billion dollars to unskilled union workers, and instead spent it on advanced medical research that will help Aunt Martha beat cancer. I think they call it "putting patients first".

Anonymous said...

Budd Campbell, the HEU are NOT unskilled union workers, most have some post secondary education (all the so-called unskilled workers were FIRED remember?) No we do not have degrees, but I went to school for 1 school year (10 mths) to get my job and I don't appreciate you or anyone calling us unskilled. Do you consider LPN's, lab techs, unit clerks, MOA's, carpenters, plumbers etc unskilled?? I'm sick of being insulted, slandered, lied about by my own employer and the Gordon-loving media (calling us unskilled toilet cleaners) I don't need to be insulted by the likes of you. We have had enough done to us.