Letters to the Editor

Readers write about the Ashcroft hospital staffing shortages and Tom Fletcher's recent unions column

Dear Editor,

The several recent closures [of the Ashcroft emergency department] in this day and age are beyond comprehension.

Interior Health (IH) doesn’t seem to grasp that this is a crisis situation. Only one of several IH staff invited to a phone call meeting organized by the Wellness Coalition (still known as WHAC by many) made themselves available.

The Wellness Coalition (WHAC) has been working tirelessly to bring the staffing needs up to requirements, assisting in recruiting physicians, nurses, and emergency department staff.

With much of the area population being of retirement age, the emergency department is necessary. People are leaving the area due to the erratic service on weekends.

Having to travel a minimum of one hour to reach the next or nearest emergency service (or hospital) is not acceptable. This has been proven a time or two in the past. Being close to a major highway means full medical service is essential.

As a concerned citizen, and one who has need of the ED, I urge everyone to sign the [health care] petition before June 14 to voice your frustration over the situation at hand.

Reta Robertson

Cache Creek, B.C.

Member of WHAC since 2015

Dear Editor,

Another week, another anti-worker rant from Tom Fletcher.

The intrepid legislative columnist for Black Press, Mr. Fletcher works tirelessly to deliver us biased news and views from Victoria. His last column—headlined “NDP’s construction rebuild showing some cracks” (The Journal, June 6)—was no exception.

I’m a journeyed insulator with B.C. Insulators Local 118, which is an affiliate of the BC Building Trades Council and the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers. I’m also the elected vice-president of my local union and co-chair of the Building Trades’ women’s committee.

I spent five years working as a non-union apprentice insulator, acquiring thousands of hours on the tools, and not once was I sent back to school to advance my apprenticeship. It wasn’t until I joined Local 118 that I gained sponsorship as an apprentice and began working toward my Red Seal. During my classroom hours, my union provided a per diem of $25 a day to help with the bills.

Mr. Fletcher criticizes Building Trades affiliates as old-school with words like “brotherhood” in their legal names. Yet in the same breath he touts the alleged progressiveness of the Christian Labour Association of Canada.

He then goes on to buy the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association data on apprentices, void of any context. To be sure, BC Building Trades’ unions represent close to 50 per cent of industrial, commercial, and institutional construction (ICI), and it’s these workers who will be building public infrastructure in B.C.

And while the non-union sector sends apprentices off to taxpayer-funded post-secondary institutions, union apprentices earn their credentials at ITA-designated training centres primarily funded by members’ money.

And where’s the data on apprenticeship completion rates? The Industry Training Authority reported an apprenticeship completion rate of 41 per cent in 2018/19. However, unionized apprentices complete at higher than 80 per cent, and some of the unionized trades are as high as 85 per cent.

And how about safety? Academic research on the ICI sector in Ontario between 2006 and 2012 revealed that unionized construction sites are 23 per cent safer than non-union construction sites. But don’t believe me: check out the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine that published it (http://bit.ly/2F02UAe).

Mr. Fletcher also appears to tout the excellence of the non-union sector in their building of the Port Mann Bridge, glossing over any memory of the bridge ultimately costing $3.3 billion, which was 41 per cent higher than its original budget of $2.34 billion.

Finally, Mr. Fletcher seems to pin the union camp agreements that determine food and beverage requirements on remote job sites on the governing New Democrats, when those exact agreements—right down to the type of salad dressing and size of place setting—were arrived at under the BC Liberals.

Here’s what I know as a tradeswoman in the Insulators Local 118:

My union fought for decades and finally helped achieve a Canadian ban on asbestos products earlier this year, ensuring construction workers are no longer exposed to the dangers of asbestos-related lung cancer and mesothelioma.

My union has supported me throughout my career as I advanced my apprenticeship and became an advocate for tradeswomen and young workers.

My union encourages me to volunteer and give back to my community in a variety of ways.

My union dues fund services for members, including safety programs, training and apprenticeship, and drug and alcohol counselling.

But what do I know? I’m just an actual tradesperson.

Ashley Duncan

Vice-president,

BC Insulators Local 118


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