Letters to the Editor

Write: letters@ok.bc.ca, letters may NOT exceed 400 words.

Rollback wages of elected officials

Dear Editor:

City of Kelowna officials are looking for ways to provide relief for taxpayers. Perhaps their first consideration should be to have all elected representatives and non-unionized employees take an immediate permanent role back of compensation of 20%.

A similar rollback should also be taken by the regional district and school district. Such an initiative would help set the stage for meaningful considerations on all remaining budget matters.

Ken Brandson


City washes its hands on homeless

Dear Editor:

On March 17, the City of Kelowna announced its response to the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic while washing its hands on helping the homeless.

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran urged “everyone to take the advice of medical health professionals seriously and practice good hygiene such as washing your hands often.”

City risk manager Lance Kayfish said, “The responsibility of helping people experiencing homelessness through the (COVID -19) pandemic is on BC Housing, not the city’s Journey Home program.”

Kelowna’s homeless are not immune to COVID-19 and are even more vulnerable to the virus than the mayor and his staff.

Like all residents, the homeless are social. They travel around the city to survive and have the potential to transmit the virus. 

But the homeless are poor; lack resources; have no sinks to practice frequent hand washing; have no homes in which to self-isolate; and cannot protect themselves and others from the virus.

The homeless require special attention if the mayor intends to successfully manage the COVID-19 pandemic and protect all residents by flattening the curves of viral transmissions, infections and deaths over time.

Basran’s plan fails to give the same protection priority to the homeless as it does to protecting everyone else.

The Journey Home program is a five-year, $47 million jointly-funded effort by the city and other levels of government to provide programs and services for the homeless that act as a safety net during times of emergencies and crisis.

That crisis has arrived and the province is now in a state of declared emergency.

Basran has not stepped up with extraordinary efforts to protect the homeless.

His 2020 budget allocations to homelessness are abysmal: $13,900 for a crime prevention consultant; $1,750 for a homeless-serving system strategy; $100,000 for the real estate department to review how to best meet complex housing needs and $75,000 for the community safety department to provide lighting, security and educational materials to promote the safety of supportive housing projects.

His lack of action begs the questions: “Does Basran care about the homeless? Will the virus solve his homeless problem?”

You be the judge.

Richard Drinnan


Humour is good, during tough times

Dear Editor:

Is this the new norm, I wonder?

Now we talk outside with our neighbours, each of us standing on a corner of the driveway to maintain a safe distance. Friends are in close touch, though. I sent them the COVID-19 humour quips from James Miller’s Saturday column and they respond “keep it coming!”

Seems we all want something to make us laugh these days.

I was at Bulk Barn on the weekend. Now you must wait for a personal shopper to take you around the store and they scoop from the bins for you. Posted signs ask customers to maintain a social distance from each other; all good.

Starbucks’ drive-thru is still open, so I stopped on my way home for coffee. When I paid at the window I thanked the cashier for coming to work today, and I meant it.

Our Penticton streets are eerily quiet and there are no kids in the local school playground. I’m reminded of a John Lennon lyric, “Nobody told me there’d be days like these. Strange days indeed – strange days indeed.”

Lisa Martin


Reconciliation handled poorly

Dear Editor:

Re: “Spending what we don’t have,” (Okanagan Weekend, Letters, March 21).

Regarding Helen Robertson’s letter, I would like to address first of all that though I am Canadian, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not my prime minister as he has abdicated his responsibility to all constituents, not just those who voted for him.

What concrete measures has he completed towards reconciliation?

Money and true consultation has to be part of meaningful attempts because of all that the governments of Canada and colonial Britain stole from First Nations.

Often those who are asked for accountability, reconciliation or who need forgiveness act as if words are enough when words are insufficient if they are even heartfelt.

Pipeline protests wouldn’t have happened if companies and governments acted ethically with understanding.

To assume that consultation with colonially imposed “democratically elected” councils was sufficient is the height of arrogance, if not embedded or ingrained racism.

The defacing of the RCMP statue was a crime. How Canada has treated First Nations is a crime. How RCMP acted in enforcement of an unethical court judgment is also a crime, the police acting like criminals.

Her words about worrying about what who did to who are the words of a person seemingly lacking empathy or sympathy for those worse off than her.

Stop and forgive when Canada and Trudeau continues to be unjust?

Arrogant of you, Helen Robinson.

Patrick Longworth


Time to certify immigrant doctors

Dear Editor:

It has been reported that the medical authorities have been asking retired doctors and nurses along with medical students to volunteer to assist in covering the COVID-19 outbreak.

What about the significant numbers of qualified doctors and nurses amongst the refugees and immigrants who have been denied the opportunity to work in medicine because the professional bodies do not recognize the medical schools where they obtained their qualifications?

There are also many whose qualifications cannot be verified either because the regime where their school is located refuses to co-operate or because the school is located in a war zone and all records have been destroyed.

Many of these well-qualified medical staff are forced to work as taxi drivers and may well find themselves out of work because demand for taxis is much less during the emergency.

Surely people with these qualifications can be brought in to at least assist and help reduce the pressure on overworked medical staff. There may be language barriers in some cases but most will speak some degree of English.

It makes no sense to simply deny that they exist when they are so sorely needed.

Brian Butler


Sunshine will bring happiness

Dear Editor:

Glorious sunshine will soon be blasting away woes. Just as it has for millions of years, as the sun radiates our faces, hands, as sunbathing radiates the molecules, as the sun forces us outdoors and inspires activities, we will be OK with living and all about.

Spring is like a breath of fresh air, it brings about new carbon-absorbing plant life and cute fawns.

Now we can open our windows and doors, breath in the wonders of just being here to enjoy life.

The sun mysteriously restructures our attitudes, the pressures are reduced, we become more gracious and forgiving, we take on attitudes of willful acceptance and being thankful for what really matters.

We are OK because we are OK. Great humans, great persons. Soon, very soon the glorious sunshine will reign supreme over the flu season.

Bruce Alton McGillis


Fresh air can solve a lot of problems

Dear Editor:

Our well-informed, well-meaning officials are giving out good, sensible, timely information on dealing with the present pandemic, but there is one aspect of their advice that I totally disagree with. Plus, one should remember they are addressing the masses and following world order.

To stay at home relying on filters to provide fresh air is not my way of staying safe and healthy.

A far better idea would be to toss the remote control, turn off the TV, grab your keys to your bag of hammers, scoop up all your bread snappers (kids) and head for the hills, so to speak.

Find an empty trail, a hillside, a river bank, a quiet beach, a field, a quiet rural highway and get out in the sunshine and fresh air, take a ball or a stick, take Fido and whilst keeping your distance from others have a ball as a family.

(When was the last time? It’s is most likely well overdue.)

No kid will ever benefit from being shut in all day gawking at a cell phone, they absolutely need fresh air and sunshine and freedoms to run around and so do you.

So get your butt off the couch, take a deep breath and get cracking, you can only live in fear for so long before its grip on you is irreversible on your mental health.

Show your kids some leadership. You are the real person they trust. Stay safe. Start a trend and show some stick.

Don Smithyman