CSRD joins effort to combat ‘crisis in health care’

Address: Betty Brown, with Interior Health, speaks to CSRD directors about the importance of a health partnership. - Barb Brouwer/Observer
Address: Betty Brown, with Interior Health, speaks to CSRD directors about the importance of a health partnership.
— image credit: Barb Brouwer/Observer

Columbia Shuswap Regional District directors agreed unanimously to support a motion to partner with the Shuswap Healthy Community Coalition to improve health in the region.

Betty Brown of Interior Health’s coalition and Dr. Keith Culver of UBC Okanagan’s Interior Healthy Living Hub appeared in a delegation to the board last week, citing a crisis in health care.

Brown began with a few salient points about the state of health in Canada and the inability of the health-care system to keep up.

“We’re sick, obese and getting older,” Brown said, pointing out 37 per cent of residents have a chronic disease and consume 80 per cent of health care dollars. “About 50 per cent of tax dollars go to sickness care and we know it’s going to get worse.”

Brown told directors that 50 per cent of what makes Canadians sick is linked to a number of factors often associated with where people live – income, early childhood development, disability, education, social exclusion, social safety net, gender, employment and working environment, race, aboriginal status, safe and nutritious food, housing/homelessness and community belonging.

Twenty five per cent of health is linked to access to health care, 15 per cent to each individual’s biology and 10 per cent to the environment.

“None of this is a quick fix and the key thing is co-ordination to avoid duplication, advocacy and ‘health in every policy.”’

Culver then took over the podium, noting how the Healthy Living Hub could help by providing a ‘single door’ to regional research-led innovation, forming and guiding partnerships, co-ordinating knowledge exchange and providing project management. He pointed out the Interior of B.C. constitutes 30 per cent of B.C.’s population.

“When you choose to implement something to improve the health of your community, you have to be able to implement differently and measure,” Culver said. “We have to get government to accept the Interior is not inferior – it’s different.”

Retired cardiologist and coalition chair Brian Ayotte expressed fear if a major cultural shift to wellness does not take place.

“We have a cultural disease that is predicted to be the next smoking (health crisis),” he said. “We have created a sedentary culture of bad habits and we need to work together.”

Area F director Larry Morgan expressed concerns about mental health issues relating to drug use.

“We know there’s an epidemic of mental health challenges…” responded Brown. “There is no health without mental health, the ability to make wise choices depends very much on your mental health.”

Golden Mayor Christina Benty agreed with the motion in principle, but pointed out local governments get eight cents of every tax dollar with which they have to deliver water, sewers, roads, land-use planning and quality of life services.

But Brown assured her the coalition was not asking for money.

“We know there isn’t anything,” she said, referring to “the tyranny of the grant cycle,” and looking to what could be done over a generation to find a way to use resources differently.


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