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Health authority’s effort to block visit fails

In spite of initial management attempts to block them, Peace River South MLA Blair Lekstrom and Dawson Creek city councilor Marilyn Belak were able to see firsthand the effects of cutbacks at Dawson Creek and District Hospital while touring the facility early today.

Lekstrom and Belak had accepted an invitation of the Hospital Employees’ Union’s (CUPE) South Peace local to take a tour with them around departments at the hospital that have or are going to suffer cutbacks: the operating room, labs, admitting, dietary and laundry departments and material management.

HEU local chair Doris Gripich says, “We wanted Lekstrom and Belak to see what frontline health care workers actually do on the job and to be able to talk to them about how the cuts are affecting their work and the running of the hospital.”

The HEU delegation called the facility before entering with Lekstrom and Belak and asked them if someone from management would like to accompany them on the tour. The response from management was, “No tour.”

It took some negotiating over the phone with the chief operating officer of the region, Andrew Noonan, to allow the tour to go ahead. Part of those negotiations took place between Lekstrom and Noonan behind closed doors and was then allowed to go ahead, accompanied by Nicole Evans, the manager of support services for the Northeast health services delivery area.

To underscore the need for more - not less - workers, the union had supplied an extra worker in the dietary department to help clean up.

“We wanted to show that cutbacks in that department have meant that the cleanup procedures have suffered,” says Gripich. “We were saying, ’This is what it should look like’.”

This tour was part of creative moves being taken by HEU members around the province to make the public aware of how government cutbacks will affect the delivery of health care in their communities and how the loss of jobs will impact their communities.


Dale Fuller, communications officer,