Kip Woodward | August 6th, 2015
I recently submitted the following op-ed to the Vancouver Sun (published August 1, 2015) on a topic that not many people consider when they think of health care. I’m pleased to share it with you here on Up For Discussion and I look forward to any comments or thoughts you’d like to share in the comment section at the end of this page. Thanks for reading!
B.C. Day is about celebrating our province, our history, and in no small way, our future. It is a day that also celebrates building communities, highlighting the thriving businesses, talented professionals, and hard-working entrepreneurs and employees that generate income, investment, and revenues that make our province strong, our future bright. Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) knows that building communities is achieved through the shared and critical contribution of B.C.’s private and public sectors to make our health care services and programs accessible in our communities, and along the way, make them caring and sustainable places in which to live.
A tremendous investment
VCH will spend $3.4 billion this year for the health and care services and programs that are delivered to over one million people in British Columbia. That’s a tremendous investment in VCH service-area communities to provide the health care we count on. So it’s worth taking a moment on this day of community and provincial reflection to look deeper at this investment.
The critical work is delivered by 2,100 physicians, 14,300 full and part time staff, and 3,000 volunteers, all among the most dedicated and skilled in Canada. It will come as no surprise that payroll is the major component of VCH spending — some 70 per cent of this year’s budget — and that these monies are further distributed throughout the greater Lower Mainland by staff and employees and their personal spending. There are also large sums paid directly to all levels of governments and their myriad agencies, as well as to residential care facilities and home and community care providers.
What is surprising, perhaps, and should be of particular interest to all local communities and residents on this B.C. Day, is how much our staff is supported by local businesses in delivering the health care we count on: these businesses — located in every Metro Vancouver community — help make our health services possible and available through their supply of goods and services. Indeed, the local B.C. businesses that provide the high-quality goods and services that VCH counts on to deliver on its mandate and its commitment to British Columbians are significant, and worthy of recognition on this or any day.
How significant? Well, in 2014, within our service area in the communities of Vancouver, Richmond, the North Shore, the Sunshine Coast, Whistler, Squamish, and Bella Bella and Bella Coola, VCH purchased close to $120 million of goods and services from over 1,100 local businesses. Moreover, in the communities adjacent to our service area, VCH purchased an additional $190 million of goods and services from over 700 additional Metro Vancouver businesses.
In total, VCH purchased nearly $310 million worth of goods and services from more than eighteen hundred businesses in the Metro Vancouver region. And when the owners and employees of those business receive their paycheques, and buy the goods and services they and their families need, the money continues to flow — back into the greater Lower Mainland through this personal spending.
Prosthetics to paper clips
From prosthetics to paper clips, the breadth of what VCH sources locally is remarkable. There are the specialized purchases of custom surgical instruments and micro-optics and micro-dental technology, plus all the specialized servicing needs that our modern health care system requires, everything from calibration services and laser repair to custom gasket and ball bearings replacements.
But it is the more everyday goods and services — the things any institution or large operation needs to operate safely, securely, and in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way — that form the majority of VCH purchases in our communities and those of our Metro Vancouver neighbours. These include boiler cleaning, construction, geotechnical services, metal fabrication, roofing repairs, window and door repair and replacement, signage, elevator maintenance, diesel repair and maintenance, electrical repair, concrete finishing, painting, logistics, flooring, heating, ventilation, refrigeration and air conditioning services and maintenance, food and beverage services, fire safety, pest control, freight, multiple layers of recycling services, and the list goes on and on.
Players large and small
As you might expect, many of our goods and service suppliers are in such major commercial and industrial centers as Vancouver, Richmond, Burnaby and Surrey. But the VCH reach for the goods and services that make our operations and services accessible and efficient extends to many smaller players — hardware stores and stationers and graphic artists — across the region.
Take, for instance, the Sunshine Coast. Last year, VCH purchased goods and services from some 170 local businesses between Gibsons and Powell River, spending $2.5 million to support VCH facilities on the Sunshine Coast such as Sechelt Hospital, Powell River General Hospital, five seniors’ facilities, three primary care health units, and local mental health and addiction services. This spending represents direct and critical links to our communities’ health and sustainability, and offers an example of the shared role British Columbia’s private and public sectors play in making our healthcare services and programs accessible in our communities.
British Columbia. Building communities. Building a healthy and sustainable future for communities and the people who call them home. Good things to celebrate on B.C. Day.
Kip Woodward is Chair of Vancouver Coastal Health