Vote YES for our staff and patients

Tags: , ,

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.

About the Author

Patricia Daly

Dr. Patty Daly is chief medical health officer and vice president of public health as well as a clinical professor in the School of Population and Public Health in the Faculty of Medicine at UBC. Patty writes about public health issues. View all posts by Patty.

A Beginners Guide to Disqus

Disqus is a great platform for adding comments to blogs and articles. For the most part it's straightforward and easy to use, but at first the amount of options can be daunting and intimidating. Luckily for us, once past the initial process, commenting is really made easy.

This guide is to help users understand the user interface of Disqus in order to use it in the most effective way for their needs.

Note: You can write the comment at any time during the process, before, after, or during.

  • 1. Your first click:

  • 2. Choose your account, or dont:

  • 2. a) Facebook example:

  • 2. b) Guest example:

  • 3. Submit your post:

  • 4. You're done, that's it!

    All comments are moderated, so if your comment doesn't appear right away it's because it is awaiting moderation from administrators.

7 comments on “Vote YES for our staff and patients

  • cw says:

    I work in community and require a vehicle daily in order to do my work. This is the same for the majority of my community colleagues. A couple of years ago, VCH decided to eliminate the 9 day fortnight and compressed work week schedules for all community staff, thus ensuring more vehicles on the roads. I find it slightly disingenuous that VCH is coming out in support of the transit plebiscite when they chose to eliminate a schedule that was was decidedly more environmentally responsible. Despite our efforts to compel VCH to continue with a compressed work week, it was eliminated and replaced with schedules that see many of us working more days of the week, increasing congestion on our roads and emissions in the air. I do plan to vote Yes in the plebiscite and support the messaging from health officials and VCH, but I would like to see VCH commit to walking the talk about health and the environment and return to compressed work week scheduling.

  • Diane says:

    I voted a No too…In my opinion the government had money for public transit improvement…but the money had just been wasted in the failed project of the compass card. They have to use money in a more efficient way…or else they are still not able to accomplish anything even with more money. It will be great, though, if they do efficiently use the money towards a better public transit system so that it’s more convenient for people who depends on public transit.
    On another note..
    It’s true that when people take public transit they tend to walk more and there’s a higher chance to be exposed to fresh air.
    However, I don’t think riding the public transit will necessarily improve people’s health. In fact, I think that riding buses/skytrain makes people more prone to illnesses. Germs spread so easily when people are sharing the same space, especially when there are sick people and homeless people. Also, these public vehicles lack ventilation and people are constantly inhaling each other’s breath during the whole ride. When sick people ride buses/skytrains, they contribute to even more germs and also become more sick when they are exposed to other germs.
    I think, therefore, improvement in public transit can give more convenience to public transit users, but not necessarily a better health.

  • Corinne says:

    It’s a yes vote for me. Improved transportation that keep fewer cars off the street, more bicycles on safe routes, and enhanced infrastructure to get people from point A to point B is valuable for sure. We are speaking about “The Built Environment” and how it impacts our health. Also, with more people able to cycle and walk from stops to get to work, our incidence of chronic disease just might decrease, and we all know how important this is for individuals, their families, and, the financial load on our health care system. More people will opt to use the improved transportation, and will use their cars less. More savings on gas. Think about Toronto or New York? Many people do not own cars due to the amazing transportation systems. Corinne

  • Rennie says:

    I’ll probably vote for this because I use transit and see that it’s desperately needed, but I’d prefer a gas tax at the pump to pay for this. Tax tobacco to reduce smoking. Tax alcohol to reduce drinking. Tax gas to reduce driving. Not based on evidence (as far as I know) but makes sense to this taxpayer.

  • Markus Zurberg says:

    I’m sorry but it is a “NO” from me and it’s not
    that I’m again public transport or don’t see the need. Quite the opposite is

    I’m voting “NO” because it’s a waste of money!

    We are being told that there is no alternative (to the tax), when in fact there
    is. Translink already receives part of our property tax, motor fuel tax and
    parking tax. Raise the share of those taxes; it’s a simple as that! No need for
    an additional tax, where another bureaucrat has to make sure that the 0.5%
    goes to the right place. (To my knowledge there is still no agreement if the
    0.5% will be a separate tax or part of the PST). Introducing the 0.5% is no
    guarantee that the property and fuel taxes won’t rise. Plus by increasing i.e.
    property tax we can make sure that cooperations pay their fair share for
    improving our infrastructure and it is not just carried by the consumers.

  • John Carsley says:

    Let’s think of our patients, families, and staff. Here is a real win/win/win for all three. Three factoids which particularly stick to my aging brain: When the plan is built, Metro Vancouver residents will be no more than 1/2 km. from frequent transit (15 minute wait or less). Two hundred thousand (yes, that is 200,000) south of Fraser residents live within a 10 minute walk of the new rapid light rail lines. Finally, everybody, every day, depends on someone who takes transit.

    • handleygen says:

      I agree with John. This issue is about the big picture, long-term vision and voting yes will help many years down the road.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated.

Email addresses will not be made public.

You may comment anonymously, but a valid VCH email address is required to verify that you are an employee.

Only comments attributed to a valid or email address will be published.

Quality Safety & Patient Care.

This is the place for discussion, debate and collaboration on issues and ideas that advance engagement with VCH’s strategic True North goals and objectives. It is not just for executives, but the tone of this stream is tailored to those serving in a leadership role or those who have interest in the “why” behind organizational priorities.

Recognizing Excellence & Success

This is the place for discussion, debate and collaboration on issues and ideas that advance engagement with VCH’s strategic True North goals and objectives. It is not just for executives, but the tone of this stream is tailored to those serving in a leadership role or those who have interest in the “why” behind organizational priorities.

Photos & Fun

This is the place for discussion, debate and collaboration on issues and ideas that advance engagement with VCH’s strategic True North goals and objectives. It is not just for executives, but the tone of this stream is tailored to those serving in a leadership role or those who have interest in the “why” behind organizational priorities.