As many of you may know, Anbang, a humongous foreign investment firm, wants to buy into our health care system. It has $1 billion to invest in one of BC’s biggest retirement home chains.
What has that to do with us? Well, the chain is Retirement Concepts, the group that runs our Senior’s Village. RC, an important part of B.C.’s health-care delivery system, is reportedly the highest-billing provider of assisted living and residential care services in the province, receiving some $86.5 million in public funds in the 2015/16 fiscal year.
Does it matter who owns these facilities as long as the clients get good care? It shouldn’t, but the Office of the Senior’s Advocate reported that in 2014/15, the majority of the 292 government-funded long-term seniors care homes in B.C. had staffing deficiencies, serious incident reports, and/or other quality of life issues. Most of the facilities who didn’t meet ministry standards were operated by private interests, not health authorities or non-profit groups. Anbang, which is said to be on an “investment spree” in North America, is a newcomer to health care, but Retirement Concepts is expected to stay involved with the operations. The takeover requires federal government scrutiny and Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains will make the decision. Anbang is a Chinese corporation, and given our Prime Minister’s lust for Chinese investment, this is likely a go. The province could stop it but that’s not likely. Although some of us, seniors and otherwise, feel we would be better served if health care services were run by health authorities, not private interests, the Clark government apparently feels otherwise. The 70 new residential care beds slated for Williams Lake could have been added to Deni House instead of going to private tender. Maybe the issue isn’t who owns services, but the lack of adequate oversight on the part of governments, be it health, environment, resource extraction, whatever.
The matter of deer wandering about the city has been on the public agenda lately. The other evening I spotted a large doe hiking down the sidewalk on North 4th Avenue, apparently heading for 7/11. I don’t know if she got there.
Diana French is a freelance columnist, former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.