Patricia Daly | March 11th, 2015
Three weeks ago in my first blog post on the transportation referendum, I outlined four major health reasons why I am voting YES: increased physical activity and reduced levels of obesity, better air quality, fewer injuries from motor vehicle crashes and more equitable access to work, school and health services for people of all socio-economic backgrounds.
Transportation and health
You can read more about the links between transportation and health in two recently released reports, the first an analysis of data from the “My Health My Community” survey undertaken last year in Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health. And the second, a review of evidence from Dr. Lawrence Frank of UBC.
While the link between transportation infrastructure and population health is well-established, it’s also important to consider why a YES vote is important to VCH staff, patients, clients and visitors.
Will benefit VCH
As you know, VCH is one of the major employers in the region (21,257 employees as of January 2015) with our staff commuting to work from across the Lower Mainland, and many doing shift work. We know a large number of staff already use active transportation (transit, walking or biking) to get to work. The Mayors’ Council plan includes improvements that will be of particular benefit to our staff, including 80% more NightBus service for shift workers, 2,700 kilometres of bikeways and an extension of the Millennium Line from VCC-Clark SkyTrain Station to Arbutus Street (i.e. Broadway Subway). VCH is the single largest employer on the Broadway corridor.
No matter where any of us work, it’s important we arrive as stress-free and refreshed as possible to provide the best care to our patients and clients. Long, unreliable commutes — whether it’s sitting in traffic gridlock, on an overcrowded SkyTrain or watching yet another full bus pass you by— do nothing to improve our mental well-being when we need to be at our sharpest.
Important for patients and family
Voting YES is also important for our patients, clients and visitors. Public transportation is a way for non-drivers, particularly low-income seniors, disabled individuals and recent immigrants, to access important services. Our My Health My Community report found that transit use in the Lower Mainland is higher among the elderly, those with chronic medical conditions and those with the lowest incomes. Whether getting to medical appointments, school or work, transit is often a necessity for our most vulnerable patients and clients. In addition to new bus and SkyTrain service, the Mayors’ Council plan also includes a 30% increase in HandyDART service, essential for our clients with mobility challenges.
We also need to consider friends and family members coming to visit patients in the hospital. The emotional support they provide patients is integral to the healing process, but at $3 or more for 30 minutes of parking in a public parkade at a facility such as VGH, the price to visit can be prohibitive. Public transit provides a better and less expensive alternative.