"These are all valid issues," said Mussallem. "But right now we've got enough issues to take care of. When we need advice we may put another health advisory committee together." – Prince Rupert Mayor Mussallem, providing the City’s Northcoast Health Advisory Committee with a verbal handshake of thanks, but no thanks.
For the price of a stamp members of the Northcoast Health Advisory Committee are effectively no longer on the clock.
In a letter to committee members, Mayor Jack Mussallem has advised them that their services will no longer be required, as if the city has concerns about health issues for the area they will turn to city staff for some of the legwork.
Though judging by the comments of the Mayor, city staff may not be too overworked in the short term.
Suggesting that the city has more than enough issues to deal with, it seems that matters of concern regarding health may not be rising too high on the to do list for this council.
This despite the growing concern in the community over the shortage of doctors, the lack of proper drug and alcohol services, or the availability of seniors care and the thorny issue of social housing for those in the most need.
While he publicly thanked the committee members for their work, he offered up no indication as to why the work they provided was no longer required. Considering the nature of their advocacy for the community, one has to wonder why the committee members have been handed their walking paper.
The last time we heard, the city staff at City Hall were a rather over extended group of workers, with many tasks to take care of and little in the way of personnel support to handle the load they had.
One would think that a volunteer board willing to examine the issues and report back to council would be a welcome addition to the participatory aspect of civic governance, especially in these days of fiscal responsibility.
The many needs outlined by the committee and others in the past are still there, if not getting worse as a tour of the downtown area could provide testimony towards. To let such a strong advocate for the city's residents as this committee just disappear seems to be rather short sighted to say the least.
It will be well worth watching to see if the city explains its decision further and if the issues of health and social concerns drop off the civic radar now.
For your research purposes we provide below, the Monica Lamb Yorski story from Monday’s paper, you can also follow up and join in on some of the debate over the city’s decision from the discussion board at hackingthemainframe.
LOCAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE DISBANDED
By Monica Lamb-Yorski
The Daily News
Monday, June 1, 2009
Pages one and five
The City staff will cover information gathering.
Members of the City of Prince Rupert Northcoast Health Advisory Committee received a letter from the city council last week saying thank you for their efforts over the last six months but that the committee has been disbanded.
"The letter said the City would be having staff gather information now," said former city councillor and a member of the committee Tony Briglio.
It was Briglio who brought forward the idea for the committee seven years ago, before he went on council.
He had been working with the Regional District Hospital Board and said he felt the committee could bring community health issues forward to City Council.
"I don't take this as a personal attack but 1 wish City Council had sat down with us and talked. The committee has been active and has not held back in bringing issues forward. Council has neglected to realize the committee only recommends. Council has the final say."
Mayor Jack Mussallem said the most recent makeup of the Northcoast Health Advisory Committee was created shortly after the new council was elected.
Advisory committees are there to look at specific issues and a variety of issues came forward. The work the committee did is appreciated. The committee did some good and the council thanked them for it," the mayor said.
Some of the issues brought forward by the committee included the need for an alcohol and drug treatment facility, the need for more doctors, concerns around staffing and retention of nurses and doctors, and the option for nursing students to be able to do a practicum in Prince Rupert, rather than in Terrace.
Other issues centered around seniors and eligibility for assisted living and the fact that the new Acropolis Manor should have more rooms.
"These are all valid issues," said Mussallem. "But right now we've got enough issues to take care of. When we need advice we may put another health advisory committee together."