There will be a lot talk about health this weekend.
However, unless you’re one of the 100 people who registered for the province’s Conversation on Health, you’re out of luck if you want to attend.
MLA Mary Polak, who is the parliamentary secretary for the Conversation on Health, said limiting the number of attendees at the regional meetings results in a more equal representation across the province. If the meetings were open, then big city, Lower Mainland concerns would dominate simply because of numbers.
As for the meetings thus far, they have been going well, says Polak.
“It’s encouraging to see the people wanting to get engaged,” he said.
One of the issues that is emerging, Polak said, is the need for some kind of health service “between the general practitioner’s office and the emergency ward.”
Clinics are an obvious answer, but Polak says the Conversation on Health is open to any suggestions.
The Prince George stop will be the first in the North and the rural/urban issues will most certainly be a topic Saturday at the Coast Inn of the North.
The forum will operate like a workshop, she said. Participants will set the agenda in the morning and break into smaller groups to discuss various issues.
In the afternoon they will examine some of the questions raised and go through different scenarios.
Polak said feedback to the Conversation on Health has been good so far with a wide range of comments and suggestions being received. As for any suggestion that the conversation’ is a precursor to more privatization of health care, Polak said those suggestions are an attempt to make health a “black and white” issue.
“The only ones who are saying that are the ones who already have a voice,” she said. “British Columbians get that it’s bigger than that.”
Privatization, however, may be on the table.
“Government is going to do whatever is going to work,” said Polak. “The only boundary we are putting on this is that it will be consistent with the Canada Health Act.”
In addition to the regional public forums and professional meetings, British Columbians can participate by logging on to the website: www.BCConversationonHealth.ca; by calling the toll-free Conversation on Health line at 1-866-884-2055, Monday to Friday; by sending an e-mail to: email@example.com; or by sending a letter to: Ministry of Health, 5-3, 1515 Blanshard St., Victoria B.C. V8W 3C8.