B.C. Seniors’ Advocate Isobelle Mackenzie. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Care providers call for B.C. seniors’ watchdog to step down

The association also asks the province to conduct an audit and review of the mandate of her office

The BC Care Providers Association is calling for the resignation of the province’s seniors’ advocate, alleging her relationship with the Hospital Employees’ Union leadership has been too “cozy.”

In a statement, the association also asks the province to conduct an audit and review of the mandate of the Office of the Seniors’ Advocate.

READ MORE: Government taking over seniors’ home care in southern B.C.

Seniors’ advocate Isobel Mackenzie was not immediately available for comment.

The association alleges that documents obtained through a freedom of information request show Mackenzie collaborated closely with the Hospital Employees’ Union leadership in shaping a report on the transfer of patients from care homes to hospitals.

The report, called “From Residential Care to Hospital: An Emerging Pattern,” was released in August and followed complaints from emergency room clinicians that some care homes were sending residents to the emergency department unnecessarily.

The association alleges she shared draft language of the report with the union, incorporated its feedback and notified the union of the planned timing of the report’s release.

In contrast, it says the Care Providers Association was never advised in advance by Mackenzie’s office on the release of the report and its members were never notified beforehand of its findings.

“We have tried to work with the seniors’ advocate over the years with mixed results,” it says in a statement.

“The release of this FOI provides us with a disturbing insight into which organization is having the most profound influence over the OSA.”

The association is also calling for a full and independent review of the office.

Unlike other advocates that are independent, such as the BC Ombudsperson or the children and youth advocate, the seniors’ advocate reports to the Health Ministry, which couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The association says it also wasn’t consulted on a decision by the B.C. government to move more than 4,000 home support jobs from the private sector to public health authorities, and accused Mackenzie of failing to press the government on that decision.

“Not one question was posed by her to government on their reason for the change, or if any analysis had been provided,” it said.

“For BCCPA, this was a tipping point.”

The Canadian Press

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