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Category "Op-Ed"

6Aug

Susan Inman: Let’s stop ignoring the needs of adults with psychotic disorders

by admin


As someone who has always voted for the NDP, I am concerned about some of this government’s approaches to severe mental illnesses, writes the mother of a daughter living with schizophrenia.


Getty Images / PNG

Joy MacPhail, in her recent opinion piece, makes clear how pleased she is with the new provincial plan to improve mental health and addiction services. She believes that this plan, called A Pathway to Hope, can help “improve the well-being of all citizens.”

As the mother of a daughter living with schizophrenia, I disagree. Many unmet needs of adults living with the most severe psychotic disorders are not addressed.

MacPhail focuses on the high rate of hospitalization as evidence of the failure of the current mental health system. It is disappointing that she doesn’t acknowledge the many people with untreated psychotic disorders whose suffering is very visible on the streets of cities and towns throughout the province. Lack of treatment for this population leads to homelessness, victimization, addictions and incarceration.

The article seems to argue that all mental illnesses arise from negative social factors. It is unclear if MacPhail knows that psychotic disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder cannot be prevented. It is also unclear if she knows about anosognosia, the brain-based inability of many people in psychosis to understand that they are ill. This symptom leads people to reject treatment when they most need it.

It is good that increased funding will probably be used to expand B.C.’s too few Early Psychosis Intervention programs. These time-limited programs, unlike much of the rest of the mental health system, are known for educating clients and their families about the illnesses they are living with. I have seen how people who receive adequate psycho-education have a much better chance of understanding, accepting and learning to manage their illnesses.

Most people with schizophrenia can have their psychotic symptoms alleviated by anti-psychotic medications. However, there is widespread and ongoing disability in this population because psychotic disorders often involve significant cognitive losses. B.C.’s many influential anti-psychiatry/anti-medication activists should learn that these losses often appear before the use of any medications.

These cognitive losses include difficulties with concentration, short term and working memory, problem solving, judgement and social skills. These problems can make many of the tasks of daily living, including remembering to take medications and attend medical appointments, very difficult.

All clients and families need, but currently do not have, the chance to learn about these cognitive losses. As well, clients deserve access to the evidence-based cognitive remediation programs that exist in many other countries.

A coalition of representatives from the B.C. Schizophrenia Society, B.C.’s Early Psychosis Intervention programs, the B.C. Psychosis Program and B.C. Psychosocial Rehabilitation put on a sold-out conference in 2017 on Bringing Cognitive Remediation to British Columbia. This group has gone on to submit several proposals for training staff in implementing evidence-based cognitive remediation programs. So far, this government has chosen not to provide necessary funding.

As someone who has always voted for the NDP, I am concerned about some of this government’s approaches to severe mental illnesses. The recent recommendations from the B.C. Ombudsperson, for example, will embed the Community Legal Assistance Society in hospitals to provide advice to all involuntary inpatients. This is an organization fighting to abolish access to involuntary treatments.

Currently, nurses and social workers inform involuntary patients about their rights and about ways to access review panels to ensure that people are not receiving unnecessary treatments. Patients will soon receive advice and legal assistance from an organization that publicly doubts the value of anti-psychotic medications.

Hopefully, the NDP can be persuaded to better meet the needs of people with the most severe mental illnesses. Rather than spending millions of dollars on lawyers, the right kinds of services for this disadvantaged population could be implemented.

A lot of money is about to be spent on various mental wellness programs. Some of these funds should be used to improve mental illness literacy programs. Educating the public about psychotic disorders can increase their ability to help people access and stay engaged in essential services.

Susan Inman was an English and drama teacher at Windermere Secondary School for 24 years. She has a daughter living with schizophrenia.


Letters to the editor should be sent to [email protected]. The editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at [email protected].

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29Jul

Letters, July 30: Efforts to combat global warming drop in the bucket

by admin


Kira Lynne lives with chronic pain, along with millions of other Canadians.


Francis Georgian / PNG

In spite of the heightened public awareness of global warming and its climate-altering effects to date nothing significant has been done about it.

The City of Vancouver banned plastic straws, which is a farce as it might affect at most 0.0001 per cent of non-recyclable plastic in the system. Banning plastic bags is a good idea but I see it has been struck down by the courts.

The problem is that anything really significant affects someone’s sacred cow.

Banning plastic water bottles would be a really good idea since we all would be better off drinking tap water, but of course that won’t happen since most of the water-bottling business is controlled by large international companies like Coca-Cola who have a lot of economic and political power.

And how about air travel? It’s very polluting and most of it’s a luxury for the wealthy and not essential. Again a political and economic non-starter. Or cruise ships? Get the picture?

Our governments will go on mouthing platitudes and seeking placebo solutions until one day an environmental catastrophe will occur rendering all or a large part of the planet uninhabitable and then it will be too late.

I would like to be optimistic and believe that world leaders will suddenly become enlightened and work together to save the planet, but I see no sign of that happening.

Garth M. Evans, Vancouver

Chronic pain is indeed invisible

An invisible disability, such as chronic pain, is a harsh reality for many.

Kira Lynne is courageous to allow her photograph on the front page. In my view, it enhances awareness and I’m grateful. Many have been conditioned to believe that disabilities are visible. I didn’t see her pain. Did you? She presents as young, beautiful and filled with vitality.

When I look in the mirror I don’t see mine either, yet it’s a part of me right now and who I am goes with me everywhere. A seemingly innocuous sudden hit to the head in 2015 has changed the trajectory of my life. I’m unable to work, yet my rehabilitation forces me to go out each day subjecting myself to judgment and skepticism.

All I can say is that when I venture out, like Kira and others, I have so earned that walk in my neighbourhood, the weekend getaway, an afternoon matinee or lunch with a friend.

Debra Dolan, Vancouver

Bike lanes chaos-free after all

Thanks to The Vancouver Sun for the story, “Ten Years of Bike Lanes: Life goes on, chaos free.”

When the lanes were first conceived I can remember numerous naysayers and whiners complaining about gridlock, disruption and chaos that would follow, that were reinforced by dramatic headlines of doom. To read the self-criticism of The Sun on its past articles, now acknowledging things turned out pretty well, is a good reminder of that much of the negative slant we read today about our evolving city isn’t necessarily true.

It might also provide a good reminder to our journalists that feeding fear may sell newspapers but can be entirely misleading.

Let’s hope we remember this when we discuss new initiatives such as the New Vancouver Art Gallery, the removal of the viaducts or the need for more bike lanes.

Examples set by Gordon McIntyre in The Sun continue to inspire journalists to rise above fearmongering and report on actual data and research.

Lisa Turner, Vancouver

Police should target cyclists

So when can we expect the city and police to start focusing on getting cyclists to ride safely and follow the rules of the road?

I followed three bicyclists home last evening after the baseball game at Nat Bailey Stadium. None had any lights. All I had of their presence was the occasional faint reflection in their rear reflector. They were moving much more quickly than I was driving because I couldn’t see them consistently. When approaching a stop sign, of course one went right through without stopping.

It’s surprising there aren’t more accidents and injuries with such careless behaviour.

Maureen Charron, Vancouver


Letters to the editor should be sent to [email protected] The editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at [email protected].

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25Jul

Joy MacPhail: We need to fix social problems to improve mental health in B.C.

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Premier John Horgan, with Evan Sky makes a mental health program announcement at Mountainside Secondary School in North Vancouver, June 26, 2019. A Pathway To Hope lays out the government’s 10-year vision for mental health and addictions care.


NICK PROCAYLO / PNG

The Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction produced a new plan designed to improve mental health and addictions care, called A Pathway to Hope. The plan is a step in the right direction to improve the well-being of all citizens.

For far too long, problems with the current mental health system in British Columbia have remained unaddressed, leading to devastating consequences.

The ministry reported that B.C. has the country’s highest rate of hospitalization due to mental illness and substance use and that more than 1,500 people died from a drug overdose in 2018. The demand for services far exceeds what is available and there is a clear need for stronger and more accessible mental health programs. As minister of health in the mid-1990s, I acknowledge my share of responsibility for these outcomes. Recognizing these gaps in our current system is a crucial first step to moving forward with effective solutions.

The ministry fittingly recognizes that larger societal factors, such as colonialism and racism, have led to Indigenous peoples having disproportionally poorer mental health outcomes and being overrepresented in social, health and justice services. By engaging First Nations communities to design and deliver mental health services, the plan will begin to reduce the barriers to mental health care that Indigenous peoples currently experience.

Key to the ministry’s plan is the creation of seamless and integrated mental health services, an approach that would strengthen the opportunity for early intervention and ensure the accessibility and appropriateness of needed services. The plan is sound and requires sustained efforts and commitment to implement, but will ultimately ensure that mental health needs are met holistically, regardless of clients’ point of contact with services.

The ministry’s plan calls on organizations, businesses, and academic institutions to collaborate and create shared solutions. At Adler University, we couldn’t agree more. In fact, one of our main goals is to train mental health service providers to work with underserviced and vulnerable populations.

As part of our academic programs, our psychology and counselling students work at dozens of community agencies in the Lower Mainland, providing mental health services to marginalized people. The new Adler Community Health Services in Vancouver will make effective mental health care accessible to more people through our community partners. Additionally, our university is training the next generation of clinicians who can help fill the demand for quality mental health services, especially in underserved communities.

Improving mental health services is just one step we need to take if we truly want all British Columbians to have optimal physical and mental health. Mental health problems don’t develop in a vacuum. The health of individuals is directly related to the health of their communities. This idea was articulated by Alfred Adler, the first community psychologist and namesake of our university, in the late 1800s and it continues to resonate today.

With that in mind, we need to take a close look at what elements of our communities are contributing to various forms of deteriorating mental health and addictions. By working together to prevent systemic problems, such as trauma, homelessness and economic inequality, we can promote better mental health and wellness for everyone.

Joy MacPhail is chairwoman of the board of trustees of Adler University, which offers graduate-level programs in psychology, counselling and public policy, all with a focus on “positive social change” at campuses in Vancouver and Chicago. She is also a former long-serving NDP B.C. MLA and cabinet minister.


Letters to the editor should be sent to [email protected] The editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at [email protected].

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16Jul

Scott Lear: How to exercise in the summer without heat exhaustion

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Replenishing fluids lost to sweat while exercising in hot weather is key to avoiding heat stroke.


Arlen Redekop / PNG

With a kilometre to go, triathlete Sarah True was pulled from the 2019 Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt, Germany, due to heat exhaustion. She was in the lead by seven minutes after having swum, biked and run nearly 225 kilometres. The temperature was 38 degrees C.

With summer comes longer days and sunnier skies. It’s an opportunity to shed our winter clothes and get outside to run, cycle or play pick-up sports with friends. Indeed, summer is when we are most active.

The other thing that comes with summer is heat and humidity. As Europe and North America grapple with recurring summer heatwaves, we all must take care when being active.

When we exercise, our body’s core temperature increases. To combat this, we have a number of cooling methods. The main way our body cools itself is through the evaporation of sweat on our skin. For sweat to evaporate, it needs to absorb heat. That absorption of heat cools us down.

In addition to sweat, blood is diverted to our skin’s surface to cool and recirculate throughout our body. It’s the reason why many of us become flushed in the face when active.

How much each of these two methods contributes to cooling can vary from person to person. Some people are profuse sweaters while others turn red and hardly sweat at all.

The effectiveness of our body’s cooling also depends on ambient conditions. The drier the conditions, the more effective sweat is at cooling us. But in high humidity, the air is saturated with water vapour, causing our sweat to drip ineffectively off our body. In these situations, our body continues to produce more sweat in the hopes of cooling off.

Exercising in hot weather adds stress to our body. Diverting blood to our skin to cool means less blood (and oxygen) for working muscles.

Sweating also reduces the amount of water in our body and if this lost fluid is not replenished, blood volume goes down. This can lead to lower blood pressure and increased heart rate. At the very least, this results in a decrease in performance. At the extreme end, it can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, as happened to True.

Symptoms can include exhaustion, fatigue, poor mental functioning (dizziness, confusion, irritability), nausea, vomiting and fainting. If severe heat exhaustion isn’t treated, it can lead to long-term disability and even death.

Even though education and awareness has increased over the years, the prevalence of heat exhaustion may be on the rise. And with record high temperatures being broken year after year due to climate change, the environmental exposure and risk may continue to increase.

Those at greatest risk are the very young, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions. During Québec’s heatwave in 2018, an estimated 70 deaths were attributed to the heat. Most of the deaths were in these high risk groups.

In addition, outdoor sports that involve wearing or carrying heavy equipment such as football pose an increased risk.

Six tips to avoid heat exhaustion

• Know the weather conditions beforehand.
• Wear sunscreen and light clothing.
• Drink fluids regularly.
• Avoid exercising at peak hours of heat, or exercise in an air-conditioned gym.
• If you’re travelling to a warmer climate, whether in the summer or winter, allow your body to get acclimatized by slowly increasing your activity.
• If you are completing an athletic event during the day and you usually train during the early morning or evening, you should also acclimatize your body to the midday heat.

Scott Lear, a professor of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University, writes the weekly blog, Feeling Healthy with Dr. Scott Lear. This oped was distributed by The Conversation.


Letters to the editor should be sent to [email protected] The editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at [email protected].

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28Jun

Chris Lalonde: Governments must find optimal regulatory balance with vaping

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The increasing popularity of vaping among teens has many people concerned.


Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Across Canada, underage youth are legally restricted from purchasing alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes and vapes. But according to recently released survey data, they are using them anyway.

The media headlines say it all. A recent report in the British Medical Journal shows that Canada has experienced a “massive,” “staggering,” and “whopping” increase in teen vaping. Among 16- to 19-year-olds, last-30-days vaping use increased 74 per cent between 2017 and 2018.

The provincial government and the Canadian Cancer Society used the data from the report to publicly demand that the federal government immediately introduce vaping regulations that would restrict nicotine content, device design and flavours. Their failure to do so, the B.C. government implied, would result in B.C. introducing more restrictive provincial regulations.

What is not mentioned is that both federal and provincial government vaping legislation already exists that restricts sales to anyone under the age of 18, promotion, display advertising and communication, and limits features like certain flavours and designs thought to be appealing to youth. Is this single set of data in the BMJ report enough to justify the hasty introduction of more draconian regulatory measures that could simultaneously reduce the appeal of these products to adult smokers that rely on vaping to reduce or quit smoking?

What’s more concerning is that the same report shows that teen cigarette smoking in the past 30 days increased by 45 per cent. The use of alcohol by teens in the past 12 months actually decreased by three per cent, but cannabis use went up by 19 per cent.

The important question is which of these numbers should we be worried about? Let’s look a little closer at the actual data.

According to the report, 60 per cent of youth used alcohol and 27 per cent used cannabis in the past 12 months, 16 per cent smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days, and 15 per cent vaped.

Cigarette smoking and drinking carry far greater health risks than vaping or cannabis. But apparently, we should be especially alarmed by teen vaping.

If, as health authorities all agree, vaping is safer — not safe, but safer — than smoking cigarettes, then, perhaps, we should think clearly about what we hope to accomplish by battling teen vaping by introducing provincial regulations that go even further than regulations for smoking or drinking.

If what we hope is that teens who already smoke might be tempted to switch to vaping, then the report contains some good news. Among current teen smokers, 44 per cent are also vaping. Even “experimental smokers” are also vaping (29 per cent). Are they on their way to fully switching from cigarettes to vaping (likely, and a good thing), or from dual-use to just smoking (unlikely, and a bad thing)?

But what about teens who have never smoked? Are they being lured into a lifetime of addiction by vaping? Here, at least, the news is rather good from a public-health perspective.

It turns out teens are not very keen on vaping or smoking. Most of them have never vaped, and among those who have tried it (20 per cent), just three per cent have vaped in the past week and only 0.6 per cent vaped on more than 15 of the last 30 days. That’s just 14 teens out of the 2,441 surveyed.

The report shows that the number of teens who never smoked surveyed in 2017, just five, skyrocketed to 14 in 2018. But wait, that’s up from 0.2 per cent to 0.6 per cent — a mind-numbing 200-per-cent increase!

Let’s get serious. Perhaps we should worry more about the 2,227 teens who used alcohol or the 1,425 who smoked cigarettes.

Chris Lalonde is a University of Victoria psychology professor and the academic research adviser for Rights for Vapers, a vaping advocates organization dedicated to the advancement of Canadian-based research on vaping.


Letters to the editor should be sent to [email protected] The editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at [email protected].

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31May

Pat Carney: Helping people with disabilities isn’t just kind — it’s the law

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Seniors using walkers and others struggling with disabilities need others, including policy makers, to help them and be throughtful about their unique needs. (Brian Thompson/POSTMEDIA FILES)


Brian Thompson / Brian Thompson/The Expositor

Recently, I have been using a walker to avoid falling. It’s a different world out there when you use a walker, canes or other mobility devices.

In my mind and dreams I am still agile, moving swiftly and without thought. In reality, I have slowed to a walk. It is dawning on me that limits to my mobility are now my world, a scary one, and I must get used to it. Falls are a leading cause of death and disability among Canadian seniors and are increasing dramatically as baby boomers age.

I am sharing my new world because the federal government has proclaimed May 27 — June 2 as National AccessAbility week, to increase awareness of barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating in society.

The federal Accessible Canada Act is scheduled to become law before Parliament rises in June, requiring public and federally regulated private companies to make their services accessible for Canadians with disabilities. Provinces should follow.

Barriers involve buildings, technology and even attitudes. Here are some I encounter.

Pedestrian crossings are terrifying as warning lights count down the time. Can I make it across?

Sidewalks are minefields of cracks and raised cement slabs. That tiny slope I once crossed in one stride has become a ski hill.

Curbs separating sidewalks from streets seem insurmountable. My Vancouver condo’s fire door is a struggle to open when I cart groceries. So are most store doors.

Many public events effectively exclude the disabled. I didn’t attend a recent Walrus magazine lecture on “Inclusion,” featuring advocate Rick Hansen, because the outside parking lot organizers directed me to was too far away to manage with my walker.

Peoples’ attitudes can be obstacles for the disabled. Struggling to lift my walker to the sidewalk from a rain-soaked gutter, I called for help to a young woman approaching me. “I can’t stop,” she answered as she hurried by. “I am going to a job interview.” Not in customer service, I hope.

A woman behind me in a café line up demanded: “Please move over” as I tottered on my urban poles on an inclined entry. As if I could.

Able-bodied people use handicapped bathrooms. They have a choice. We don’t.

One B.C. Ferries deckhand threatened to leave me ashore at the terminal when I asked to park on the upper deck alongside a B.C. Ferries van, refusing to go into the hold under a lowered ramp, afraid I could drown in the dark if the elevators broke down in an emergency.

Ferries are a challenge. Two of three elevators were not working on a recent voyage. On the return, I was parked by the broken midship elevator, forced to thread my walker through the packed cars, hoping the aft elevator worked. Another passenger cried because she couldn’t get her mother’s wheelchair out of their car.

Still, I am amazed at the kindness of people who volunteer to stow my walker into my car and stop to open doors.

The Shoppers Drug salesperson who picked up a cosmetic item her store didn’t stock and delivered it to my door on her day off.

Our condo janitor, who checks the swimming pool to ensure I am OK. The storekeeper who came to help me out of that soggy gutter. A ferry deckhand who took my keys and parked my car in a safe place.

Friends who pick up groceries and volunteer to drive me to events. HandiDART buses with their helpful drivers. Events that advertise accessibility options. People who are aware that removing barriers enable all Canadians to participate in society.

People who are AccessAbility challenged must speak up. We have the right to “reasonable accommodation” under human-rights laws. We are still ourselves, the people we always were. Others, be aware. Think how you would walk in our shoes. Chances are you will.

Pat Carney, author and retired federal politician, is an arthritis research advocate and lives on Saturna Island.


Letters to the editor should be sent to [email protected] The editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at [email protected].

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28Dec

Navid Karimi: What most Canadians don’t know about the Canada Health Act, but should

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Universality is a foundational concept of our national health plan.


Ted Rhodes / Calgary Herald

When the Canada Health Act was passed in 1984 by the Liberal government of Pierre Elliot Trudeau and Health Minister Monique Begin, it contained ambiguities that to this day many Canadians are not aware of and believe the principles it held were the perfect alternative to their costly healthcare.

Canadians don’t know that medical clinics — as well as doctor’s practices — are private businesses, which means doctors can choose when and where they want to work and can simply bill their provincial government for their services they have provided.

According to the Sec. 8 of the act: “The health care insurance plan must be administered by a public authority,” but this puts the province at full control and prevents competition. Although Sec. 8 states this plan ought to be on a non-profit basis, the provinces set their own standards.

Further, Sec. 9 of the act does not oversee which services the provinces will insure and which ones they will not. This eventually makes health care providers charge people for the services that are not covered by their provinces.

Additionally, Sec. 10 of the act states universality and 100 per cent coverage by “the plan,” but again “the plan” is set up by the provinces at their own discretion. The question here is: Was “the plan” supposed to protect the people or merely the health care providers?

Also, this section indicates “the insurance plan of a province must entitle 100 per cent of the insured persons,” but what about those who are not insured or those who can’t get insured? This perhaps leaves hundreds of thousands without any coverage.

Moreover, Sec. 11.a indicates a waiting period of three months for “minimum period of residence in the province,” which disables new immigrants and returning Canadians from universal health care, and sadly enough, to this day, Ontario, B.C and Quebec implement it.

In addition, Canadians planning on travelling abroad should take a look at Sec. 11.c. It indicates if “the health services are provided out of Canada, payment is made on the basis of the amount that would have been paid by the province for similar services.”

This means if any Canadian who gets injured in the U.S., for example, where hospital and doctor fees are outrageous compared to Canada, they are literally on their own. This clearly undermines the “portability” claim of the act and requires immediate action by the federal government.

Lastly, under the “accessibility” section of the act, reasonable access is not clearly defined, which is exactly why those living in the north or far from cities have less access to health clinics or hospitals.

According to the Health Canada statistics released in 2015, nearly five million Canadians, with a national average of 16.8 per cent (20.8 per cent of Aboriginals and 16.1 per cent of non-Aboriginals), did not have a primary care provider. Again, this is conceivably due to inaccessibility to health care providers.

Health Canada statistics released in 2016 showed an estimate of 90 per cent of Canadians with major chronic conditions report taking prescription drugs that are not covered (other than those provided in hospitals) by a universal insurance plan.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, in 2010, out-of-pocket spending made up 34 per cent of private expenditures on prescription drugs, and in 2011, Canadian households spent an average of $476 out-of-pocket on prescription drugs.

This is exactly why Dr. Daniel Martin, a physician in Toronto, advocates for bringing prescription drugs under medicare. If our health act is universal, then why has it failed to acknowledge this concept?

Navid Karimi is a Master’s student and soon to be a PhD student in experimental medicine at the University of British Columbia.


Letters to the editor should be sent to [email protected]. The editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at [email protected].

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21Dec

Rita Sidhu: Lawyers not to blame for ICBC’s ‘dumpster fire’

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Attorney General David Eby looks on as Jane Dyson, executive director of Disability Alliance BC, speaks about the changes coming to the Insurance Corporation of B.C. during a press conference in the press gallery at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday February 6, 2018.


CHAD HIPOLITO / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Recently, David Eby, the Attorney General of B.C., took a shot at B.C. personal injury lawyers.

His letter is full of misleading information designed to induce the public to blame lawyers for ICBC’s woes and to garner public support for the “minor-injury” cap. It’s simple enough to do as we all know lawyers are easy targets (although politicians are not far behind). No one likes lawyers — until they need one, that is.

For example, Eby took a shot at lawyer advertisements, specifically Preszler Law, as the top advertising firm in B.C. In fact, Preszler Law is an Ontario firm that very recently set up shop in B.C. The reality is that I, and many of my colleagues, don’t advertise at all. It is a tiny percentage of the personal injury bar that comprises this advertising.

Second, he states that the ICBC system has been “uniquely generous” to lawyers. Really? Because I live in a basement suite in Vancouver and can’t imagine affording to buy a home in the city I’ve lived in the majority of my life.

Eby speaks of how his own father’s law practice was almost put out of business and how his mother had to return to work earlier than planned. Unlike the Eby family, I don’t have a spouse to lean on.

My clients come to me because they are not being treated fairly by ICBC. Eby states that almost every accident claim dispute in B.C. goes to B.C. Supreme Court. In reality, almost every accident claim in B.C. is resolved without a trial. The only reason that claims are started in B.C. Supreme Court is because there is a two-year limitation date in which one must file or lose their claim. If ICBC treated people fairly in the first two years, people wouldn’t need lawyers to seek justice for them in the courts. Eby certainly has a way of spinning “alternative facts.”

Eby blames lawyers like myself for spending thousands of dollars on expert reports. In fact, I can give many examples of where I have not got any reports, but ICBC has scheduled multiple examinations of my client, leaving me in the position of having no choice but to get my own reports.

Eby stated, “Nobody knows better than these lawyers do about what is happening.”

Yes, we do know what is happening. We see you. In spite of the dire financial situation at ICBC, there have been no structural or leadership changes at the Crown corporation. ICBC is a so-called “dumpster fire” but the executives receive hefty bonuses.

Rather than cutting the pay/vacations of union ICBC staff or stopping ICBC executive bonuses or cutting the $400 million a year commissions paid to ICBC salespeople, the NDP are taking it out of innocent victims’ injury compensation and blaming lawyers for ICBC’s woes.

The government argued early on that introducing minor-injury caps was the only option available to them to avoid passing on significant rate hikes to British Columbians — and yet here we are with significant rate hikes on the horizon.

There is no doubt that innocent accident victims are the ones who will pay the price for bad drivers in light of the changes to ICBC. I understand that people don’t think it will happen to them, but if and when they are injured through the negligence of a bad driver, and they are unfairly treated by ICBC, as countless numbers of my clients are, they will see the truth of who the real villain is, and … spoiler alert! … it’s not the lawyers.

Rita Sidhu is a Vancouver lawyer specializing in criminal, family and personal injury law.


Letters to the editor should be sent to sunletters@vancouversun.com. The editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at [email protected].

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17Dec

Vancouver Sun Dec. 18 letters to the editor

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Attorney-General David Eby.


CHAD HIPOLITO / THE CANADIAN PRESS

I recently settled an injury claim with ICBC. I read with concern Attorney-General David Eby’s suggestion that lawyers are driving up costs. In my experience, ICBC mishandled my claim and drove up costs.

Through no fault of my own, I was injured in a motor vehicle accident in 2013. I was off work for about six weeks. When I returned, I struggled with physical pain, debilitating headaches and dealing with the emotional impact of the accident.

I dealt with ICBC on my own for over a year, at times feeling pressured to settle, which I declined to do so because I was still in so much pain. I finally sought the help of a lawyer in March 2014. When my condition stabilized, we made a settlement proposal in August 2016. Without explanation, ICBC responded with an offer that was 15 cents on the dollar.

Fast forward to Nov. 22, 2018, two business days before my trial was set to start. My case settled for the very offer we made over two years earlier. In the meantime, we were forced to incur additional expert witness expenses in preparation of trial, including costly cancellation fees, all of which ICBC ultimately had to pay. ICBC also had to pay additional legal expense to their lawyers and expert witnesses.

It is unfortunate that ICBC did not treat me fairly from the start. It would have saved itself tens of thousands of dollars.

Erin Roddie, Vancouver

Eby shouldn’t blame lawyers

I disagree with NDP Attorney-General David Eby’s comments regarding ICBC in his Dec. 10 op-ed.

I was injured in a serious car accident caused by a bad driver and missed five years of work because of the injuries. While I returned to work part-time for a short period, I was unable to continue working due to my injuries. I loved my job and always worked hard. Not being able to work made me feel useless, weak and not a part of society. Enjoyment of my life disappeared.

I had severe ongoing neck and back pain that ICBC said were “only minor injuries.” ICBC refused to settle for a reasonable amount, which forced my lawyer to “build up my case,” getting opinions from many doctors just to prove that my injuries were “not minor.” ICBC also refused to pay “care” disability benefits.

By delaying the settlement, I would estimate it cost the system $100,000 or more. And the NDP have the nerve to blame victims’ lawyers! Even after the settlement, ICBC delayed processing the settlement cheque by months.

The NDP must stop blaming others and take responsibility for the costs caused by ICBC’s conduct.

Kent Westhora, Abbotsford

Electric vehicles are great

I read Jorgan Hansen’s letter to the editor last Tuesday about electric vehicle adoption in B.C. and must counter some of his points.

First, he feels the electrical grid is not up to supplying a large increase in electric cars. I have been participating in a B.C. Hydro program that controls when my car charges to minimize the load on the grid, and I don’t even notice this activity.

Second, the incentive program has helped subsidize the rapid evolution of electric cars. For the same price I paid five years ago, you can now purchase a vehicle that goes three times the distance. The program will not be needed in a few more years as electric cars will be the same price and eventually less expense then gas-powered vehicles.

As a bonus, electric cars are a lot more fun to drive.

Paul Paterson, North Vancouver

Carbon cuts are dumb

Re: Canada’s tiny contribution to world greenhouse gas emissions.

Wonderful! So we kill our economy, lower my standard of living and destroy my retirement plans to reduce a minuscule amount of “pollution” by half and the rest of the industrialized world laughs all the way to the bank.

Canadian oil is sold at a deep discount to the U.S. because of the anti-pipeline activists while we reduce our carbon footprint by less than one per cent of the planet’s total. McDonald’s is a bigger polluter, I bet, and I don’t see meat production on the chopping block.

Andrew Davidson, Surrey


Letters to the editor should be sent to sunletters@vancouversun.com. The editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at [email protected].

CLICK HERE to report a typo.

Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email [email protected].


Source link

17Dec

Vancouver Sun Dec. 18 letters to the editor

by admin


Attorney-General David Eby.


CHAD HIPOLITO / THE CANADIAN PRESS

I recently settled an injury claim with ICBC. I read with concern Attorney-General David Eby’s suggestion that lawyers are driving up costs. In my experience, ICBC mishandled my claim and drove up costs.

Through no fault of my own, I was injured in a motor vehicle accident in 2013. I was off work for about six weeks. When I returned, I struggled with physical pain, debilitating headaches and dealing with the emotional impact of the accident.

I dealt with ICBC on my own for over a year, at times feeling pressured to settle, which I declined to do so because I was still in so much pain. I finally sought the help of a lawyer in March 2014. When my condition stabilized, we made a settlement proposal in August 2016. Without explanation, ICBC responded with an offer that was 15 cents on the dollar.

Fast forward to Nov. 22, 2018, two business days before my trial was set to start. My case settled for the very offer we made over two years earlier. In the meantime, we were forced to incur additional expert witness expenses in preparation of trial, including costly cancellation fees, all of which ICBC ultimately had to pay. ICBC also had to pay additional legal expense to their lawyers and expert witnesses.

It is unfortunate that ICBC did not treat me fairly from the start. It would have saved itself tens of thousands of dollars.

Erin Roddie, Vancouver

Eby shouldn’t blame lawyers

I disagree with NDP Attorney-General David Eby’s comments regarding ICBC in his Dec. 10 op-ed.

I was injured in a serious car accident caused by a bad driver and missed five years of work because of the injuries. While I returned to work part-time for a short period, I was unable to continue working due to my injuries. I loved my job and always worked hard. Not being able to work made me feel useless, weak and not a part of society. Enjoyment of my life disappeared.

I had severe ongoing neck and back pain that ICBC said were “only minor injuries.” ICBC refused to settle for a reasonable amount, which forced my lawyer to “build up my case,” getting opinions from many doctors just to prove that my injuries were “not minor.” ICBC also refused to pay “care” disability benefits.

By delaying the settlement, I would estimate it cost the system $100,000 or more. And the NDP have the nerve to blame victims’ lawyers! Even after the settlement, ICBC delayed processing the settlement cheque by months.

The NDP must stop blaming others and take responsibility for the costs caused by ICBC’s conduct.

Kent Westhora, Abbotsford

Electric vehicles are great

I read Jorgan Hansen’s letter to the editor last Tuesday about electric vehicle adoption in B.C. and must counter some of his points.

First, he feels the electrical grid is not up to supplying a large increase in electric cars. I have been participating in a B.C. Hydro program that controls when my car charges to minimize the load on the grid, and I don’t even notice this activity.

Second, the incentive program has helped subsidize the rapid evolution of electric cars. For the same price I paid five years ago, you can now purchase a vehicle that goes three times the distance. The program will not be needed in a few more years as electric cars will be the same price and eventually less expense then gas-powered vehicles.

As a bonus, electric cars are a lot more fun to drive.

Paul Paterson, North Vancouver

Carbon cuts are dumb

Re: Canada’s tiny contribution to world greenhouse gas emissions.

Wonderful! So we kill our economy, lower my standard of living and destroy my retirement plans to reduce a minuscule amount of “pollution” by half and the rest of the industrialized world laughs all the way to the bank.

Canadian oil is sold at a deep discount to the U.S. because of the anti-pipeline activists while we reduce our carbon footprint by less than one per cent of the planet’s total. McDonald’s is a bigger polluter, I bet, and I don’t see meat production on the chopping block.

Andrew Davidson, Surrey


Letters to the editor should be sent to sunletters@vancouversun.com. The editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at [email protected].

CLICK HERE to report a typo.

Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email [email protected].


Source link

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