EDITORIAL: Flawed process for Burnaby Hospital public consultation
It’s unfortunate to question a committee of good people.
But the Burnaby Hospital community consultation committee has too many flaws to ignore.
Its creation was announced in April by Health Minister Mike de Jong, as an adjunct to the master planning process being done by Fraser Health and the Burnaby Hospital Foundation for the expansion and improvement of the hospital. As the name suggests, the goal is to ask Burnaby residents how to improve healthcare outcomes at Burnaby Hospital.
Great intentions. And the 12 committee members are no doubt hard-working, committed residents giving their time for a better city.
Unfortunately, the group is hamstrung by serious weaknesses.
First is partisan insularity. The committee’s chair and vice-chair are the two local BC Liberal MLAs, who assembled the group. The NDP MLA respresenting the hospital’s riding, Kathy Corrigan, is notably absent. The City of Burnaby also has no involvement, even as a supporter. So when the committee started selling T-shirts to raise money for the hospital foundation and raise awareness, it wasn’t at community centres or libraries—where residents frequent—but at two local businesses.
Another issue is the accessibility of the committee and its meetings.
The committee has no web site explaining its purpose, where the meetings are and how to get involved. Yes, its Facebook page does this, but its reach is limited.
Then there is the timeline. Consultation is now through Labour Day week, a time of year when city councils, school boards, and legislatures often take a hiatus. Public participation dwindles when the weather heats up.
So one wonders: Was this committee ordered, for the sake of appearances? To give people the impression of input?
Because if the goal is to genuinely engage Burnaby residents in an issue of vital importance, this exercise falls short.