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LETTER – Column on patient care tower just Peters getting his nose out of joint

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

Re: Picture painted of patient care tower outbreak is far from complete, by James Peters

Although I will agree that Worksafe could, and should do in-person inspections.

RIH is literally 1 block from the Kamloops Worksafe Headquarters, and it’s a small ministry-to-ministry step between Worksafe and Health Authorities to obtain and train inspectors to use medical grade Covid PPE to make an inspector as safe as the number one ground zero moment — a Respiratory Therapist inserting an intubation tube for a Covid patient.

But that said, a private contractor is under absolutely no requirement regarding transparency to the general public regarding job site Covid preparedness.

The fact that the ‘customer’ is government changes nothing. It is very appropriate for Interior Health to defer media questions to the contractor … because it is not their site, it’s the contractor’s until the job is complete and the ‘keys’ are handed over. IHA has zero control or access to this site. There is no special access to anyone just because it is a hospital, and there shouldn’t be as it’s just a hole in the ground and a bunch of steel and concrete.

Contractors do not need the site safety issues of IHA personnel wandering thru the site.

Worksafe Inspectors are a different deal, they are trained and equipped to walk on any site, and the Worksafe Inspection Department should be better funded to get more inspectors on the road and on site, to test for Covid requirements as a function of their safety check, with proper PPE.

It is well known (and has been for a long time) that Worksafe inspections are deeply underfunded and there are not enough inspectors to do the most basic job, on any site throughout the province. It has gotten to the point for years now that contractors will ‘make a site look good’ on expected inspection days, only to be run roughshod otherwise, rolling the dice on having no accidents that will automatically require a Worksafe investigation. Every labourer sees all this as the norm for walking on any site.

Regarding public transparency on a hospital work site during Covid times; Its a contract, not unlike a contract you might make for a guy to paint your house, he has no responsibility to media or the public.

Assuming that such a requirement ‘should’ be in place is ridiculous. Doubling down because the site is a hospital, or that it is a government contract is equally ludicrous. During construction phases, it could be a hospital, government office building, government funded seniors apartment building, or industrial warehouse … whatever.

It doesn’t matter what the eventual use is. It’s a private worksite until its built, and no one has any more right for transparency, than any other project.

If a government wants to create transparency rules for infrastructure contracts, they could, but quotes would increase due to newly required contractors’ ‘public relations’ costs. Now they will have to pay retainers for marketing people and crisis management experts and media friendly spokespersons in case anything goes sideways. Nothing is free, even if unused. Every government infrastructure cost just increased.

Costs to be paid for by taxes … I’ll just leave that there, and let you imagine where that leads.

Beyond that … it’s a potential rabbit hole that government would best avoid. Years later, building a school or even a nickel-and-dime repair job done on an ICBC office’s furnace would also be caught by the rule, and that contractor would be required to report directly to the media if requested. Think about that, so much for controlled messaging, not an idea any government want to entertain carte blanche.

Regarding the concerned labourers … absolutely, they should be thanked for speaking up, but it’s been widely reported that construction sites around B.C., North America and the world are hugely problematic petri dishes full of hundreds or thousands of come-and-go sub contractors (think about the oil fields up north), and employers are at the deep end of giving zero crap about their people, and job completion is the only priority.

The difference in this case is that individual labourers reached out, hoping they might have an avenue to a safer site because it’s a hospital … can’t blame them … worth a shot, even if the risk is huge. If they are found out it is guaranteed that they would be fired and blackballed from their industry, as that is how that industry works, full stop.

All this article is, is Peters getting his nose out of joint because he wants more information than he is entitled to, and as usual Peters thinks he deserves more than he is allowed.

A logical look at the points I have raised here seems beyond his grasp as he is writing an article.

DAVID JOHNSON
Kamloops

About Mel Rothenburger (7841 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on LETTER – Column on patient care tower just Peters getting his nose out of joint

  1. Mary-Anne Smith // November 16, 2020 at 11:03 AM // Reply

    The column was interesting and informative, until the end. Didn’t need to get snippy, could have eliminated those last two paragraphs.

  2. A long letter…I do now wonder who really got their “nose out of joint”. But I wonder about the statements about “well known underfunding for inspections” and taking a “chance on workplace accidents”. Employers, I am one of them, need to ensure worksites are well run and organized (first and foremost efficiency saves money) because if an accident happen is hell on earth dealing with WorkSafeBC. But really, isn’t the media’s job to dig deeper on stories?

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