Pamela Gardner, citizen chair of the Burnaby Hospital community consultation committee, responded to the NOW regarding emails and a letter between members of the committee - including Gardner - and Liberal Party insiders that were made public recently. The correspondence was given to The Vancouver Sun by the B.C. NDP.
The leaked letter indicates that the consultation process for Burnaby Hospital began based on political motivations to retain the Liberal Burnaby North and Lougheed ridings, and to win the Burnaby-Deer Lake riding currently held by NDP MLA Kathy Corrigan.
Below is Gardner's full response to the Burnaby NOW:
This 100 per cent volunteer committee, that the MLAs asked us to serve our community on, is a group of concerned citizens who were very moved by the C. difficile issue. Through personal experiences or emotional stories of neighbours, they wanted to get involved to see if we as a collective group could get some attention for Burnaby Hospital.
I was the only member of the committee with any political affiliation but I strongly believe this does not pre-empt me from doing the right thing for my community and my Burnaby Hospital. So we all jumped at the opportunity to serve our community on the Burnaby Hospital community consultation committee.
We held 10 public forums over the summer to reach out to everyone we possibly could. We had meetings all over Burnaby and Vancouver to make it easy for anyone to present and we used public facilities to keep costs low. All the money for meeting halls was donated by concerned citizens and businesses - no public funds were used and none of us got any money for the hundreds of hours we put in.
We sent open invitations to many different politicians, community groups, church groups, and the entire community at large irrespective of any political affiliation or interest. We sincerely wanted to give everyone an opportunity to speak. And, as our report will show, they did!
We heard from doctors and front line nurses of Burnaby Hospital, and unions; all who gave us stories and feedback. We heard from people who commented on the food and we heard from people who just wanted us to hear their story but didn't want to give a written presentation.
I had people send me very moving stories about their situations, and they strongly urged us to push for Burnaby Hospital to be a better place. You could not help but be moved by the responses we got. Many were alarming, some were shocking. We heard many times from people that simply wanted to thank us for listening. The only regret I had is that some chose not to present.
However, despite the pressure from some, on groups not to present, I am thankful and very appreciative, for those bold enough and determined enough to do so anyway. We promise to get your story out.
Some committee members have spoken to the media or sent letters to the editor and stated there was no political involvement whatsoever - there wasn't. We were never told what to do or how to do it. We are an information gathering committee, we have no power to make recommendation or suggestions to Fraser Health or the ministry. All we will do is pass on these stories, reports, personal accounts and submissions, and others will decide what to do.
We had some people who actually came to all of our forums because they believed in what we were doing and wanted to support us. They were hopeful the truth would get out. We were all 100 per cent sincere with our process and our report will prove we all put in endless volunteer hours to give the people of Burnaby a place to voice their concerns about their hospital.
As it has been well documented, I was born in Burnaby Hospital and raised in Burnaby. What you might not know is I attended Burnaby schools, I played sports in Burnaby, I was a lifeguard in Burnaby, I'm a Rotarian in Burnaby and I served on the Burnaby Hospital Board before regional health boards came in. I love this city and I love my Burnaby Hospital. I have spent my entire life working in and working for this city through my numerous volunteer activities. And I am proud of my volunteer record and my caring for Burnaby because I know it comes from my heart.
Years ago, shortly after the health region undertook an in initial master planning process, there was talk of closing Burnaby Hospital down. I joined a group who went to every person, group, government body and politician we could think of to convince them to not close our Burnaby Hospital down; and we were successful. This is how I met Patty Sahota and as a result decided to also get involved in how we are governed.
It was in this same vein that I needed to get involved today, for my Burnaby Hospital, to hear what the people said about what they wanted for the future of Burnaby Hospital. It is great that Fraser Health has brilliant people who will come up with a master plan, but to me it's equally as important to allow the taxpayers, users of the hospital and staff to have a voice, and that is what I and the committee have done for the last six months.
It is true; that I also care about the governing of my community and that I give with the same passion and commitment to governing as I do to Burnaby Hospital, Rotary and even my business that hires people from Burnaby. It is a shame that story, that my involvement stems from caring, does not get out.
And I concede that I have made some mistakes that may lead people to be even more disenfranchised with politics and for this I am sorry, as we need more people involved in how we are governed, not less.
I know the opposition party has people just as passionate on their side and I admire them for that commitment for what they believe in.
At the end of the day, the one thing that I hope we can all agree on is that our Burnaby Hospital needs attention. That is what the committee and I set out to do, and again, I believe our report will do nothing less. Our report is simply the voice of those concerned citizens, doctors, nurses, unions and organizations that cared enough to try and help, to tell a story, and bring forward suggestions and solutions - and I am committed to getting that out.
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