COLUMNS: Time will tell

Justin Trudeau’s approval of the sale of Retirement Concepts to a humongous Chinese Insurance firm wasn’t greeted with universal delight.

Health issues were in the news last week.

1.) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approval of the sale of Retirement Concepts to a humongous Chinese Insurance firm wasn’t greeted with universal delight. The firm, Cedar Tree Investment Canada (an arm of Beijing-based Anbang Insurance) may have bought the company because of their desire to help Canadian seniors, but given that RC is B.C.’s highest-billing provider of assisted living and residential care services ($86.5 million last year), it’s more likely money is the incentive. To be fair, time will tell whether the level of care is better or not.

Both Mr. Trudeau and BC Finance Minister Mike DeJong say not to worry, all residential care facilities owners have to abide by B.C.’s strict health standards. I guess neither of them read the latest Residential Care Facilities Quick Facts Director report that says 254 out of 280 facilities failed to meet the staffing guideline of 3.36 hours of care per senior every day. Deni House provides 3.19 hours, the Village 3.15, that’s better than many.

What can health officials do about substandard care anyway? They can’t close facilities, there’s nowhere else for the residents to go. Can they fine the operator? Buy the facility? Ignore it?

This isn’t the first move into B.C. health care by a foreign company. According to Post Media, health ministry investigators know of about 24 “birth houses” where foreign women seeking instant Canadian citizenship for their newborns can stay before and after they give birth in local hospitals.

2.) When will we know where the promised 70 new residential care beds for Williams Lake will go? Will they all go to one company or will they be divvied up? The latter would give people more choices.

3.) B.C. is the only province to impose Medical Services Premiums, but some two million British Columbians will see their premium cut in half Jan. 1, 2018. The fees probably won’t go away entirely for a while though, the province has a contract with an independent company, Maximus, to deliver Health Insurance services until March 31, 2020. It would be costly to break the contract which was renewed in April 1, 2005, for $264.3 million.

Diana French is a freelance columnist, former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.

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