Fraser Lake

Fraser Lake Autumn Services Society      

Elaine Storey, Coordinator                     
Anne Letz, President
Sarrah Storey, Volunteer

Autumn Services Society operates a Seniors Drop-in Centre that has over 100,000 visits since they opened their doors 5 years ago. The Centre provides seniors and their families a variety of social opportunities that are the cornerstone to building healthy communities. The Society is very active in the community, running a Food Share Program, Soup&Bun program, Fun Bingo, meditation sessions, a walking group, an annual Health Fair, Better at Home, and wide range of community events aimed at improving health and social services in Fraser Lake.

BC Health Coalition

The BCHC is a network of individuals and organizations with a shared passion for public health care.

The BCHC is a democratic, non-profit, non-partisan network that brings organizations and 800,000+ individuals together across B.C. to strengthen and improve public health care for all. 

Together we advocate for evidence-based improvements to our public health care system, stimulate public education on health care issues, and drive positive change to our health care system through campaigns across the province.

We are young people, seniors, health care workers, faith communities, health policy experts, and people with disabilities.


We run campaigns to strengthen and defend public health care. Check out some our current work here.

In the past, we have:

  • Won legislation in B.C. to protect our public voluntary blood donation system
  • Successfully advocated to scrap unfair MSP fees in BC by 2020
  • Advocated for the creation of the office of the Seniors Advocate
  • Won government commitment to real solutions to surgical and diagnositc wait times in B.C.
  • Ran multiple election campaigns to encourage voters to support public health care champion candidates.

Read more at: BC Health Coalition


Fort St. John

Save Our Northern Seniors (SONS)
Margaret Little

Save Our Northern Seniors (SONS) is centred in Fort St. John and dedicated to making a difference for seniors living in northern BC. Fort St. John is located on the Peace River in north eastern BC.  SONS shares information and raises issues of concern with all groups in the areas, serving about 300,000 people, many of whom are Aboriginal.

SONS developed a Community Health Guide which lists most of the services in the South and North Peace Area as well as Fort Nelson.


April 2021

What has SONS been up to these days???? 
Never again!!! Famous last words!!

After our last Community Health Guide was printed, a declaration was made that the 2020 would be the very last one. 

How can one refuse generous offers from the Hospital Employees’ Union, NENAS – Northeast Native Advancing Society, Mackeno Ventures, Frontier Law, and Asuncion Sta. Maria?  Working with NENAS, we have added extra pages for personal contacts, a mini-index, and on page 41, COVID-19 Contacts and Supports which provides a quick list of numbers. 

Your Community Health Guide 2021 Edition is now available at the Alaska Highway News, the Fort St. John Museum or at the Fort St. John Public Library. It can also be sent to you via email. 

As with any project, there will always be changes – additions and deletions. This Guide provides many of the services available in our community of Peace River North as well as provincial and federal agencies. NENAS and SONS has created a document which will be useful for those seeking local information to help their loved ones. 

Supportive Care Aide Course – NENAS/Northern Lights College

This past month, Silvia Marti and I met with a group of Indigenous students taking their Supportive Care Aide Course. NENAS and Northern Lights College in consultation with Northern Health created a programme which would give students an opportunity to support Elders in the Treaty 8 communities. This model would be most beneficial for all students interested in working with our loved ones either in a facility or at home. We were able to provide the students with information about services and supports in our community. What an experience to know that there are opportunities for this type short programme which enables our young people to take the course and be able to follow their dream with further courses. 

Peace River Regional District Scholarships/Sources of Funding For Educational Opportunities

SONS has always presented at the Select Standing Committee on Finance and one of our issues has been educational opportunities, recruitment, and retention. The Nursing Programme is one of the successes for our community.

Jim Collins has been working very hard to find increased funding to support students wishing to enter the Health Care Profession here in Fort St. John. We are pleased to announce that the PRRD has increased the amount of their scholarships. For more details go to the Peace River Regional District Web page.

PRRD Service Scholarships for RN/RPNs are available to individuals enrolled in a RN/RPN (Registered Practical Nurse) degree program.  First priority for this scholarship is given to graduates from the Peace River Regional District.  Six scholarships of $5000 are available.

The PRRD recognized the need for more health care professionals in the region and has developed a Health Care scholarship program.  These scholarships and bursaries will assist in the recruitment of new health care professionals to the region and encourage health care professionals in the region to expand their skills. 

The PRRD also provides funding for Care Aids which is administered by the rural directors/or by the regional health care committee.

Completed applications are to be returned by e-mail to the PRRD at by June 30th of each year. For more information for this opportunity or other PRRD scholarships and bursaries, visit

SD #60 continues to work on dual credits, work experience, and promoting educational opportunities. Drawbacks for the students is travel to Dawson Creek. The issue of graduated licenses and students not always being able to drive due to their level of license is a barrier. Her 

Facebook Page/E-mail 

SONS or Save Our Northern Seniors Facebook page continues to be quite active and receives many likes as well as shares. Our e-mail list also provides information as many people do not use facebook. 

What else is new?

SONS continues to advocate for:

More Staffing at all levels with available educational opportunities as well as funding. Working with the Peace River Regional District, we are pleased to announce that the scholarship amounts will be increased for this coming year. 

Recruitment and retention of Staff is extremely important. 

Transportation for those who cannot get out is critical. We will continue to work on getting more HandyDART hours, especially evenings and weekends. 

More facilities – we need the Third House at Peace Villa which could be a used for a variety of needs in our community, especially Assisted Living. 

This past month, SONS has been continued to keep the information moving through our email list and facebook page. We belong to the BC Rural Health Network, the BC Health Coalition, Council of Senior Citizens’ Organization as well as many other groups which provide support for families, caregivers, Residents, and Clients. 

SONS is able to support families with information and contacts for the health system.  In addition, we are there for support to help make a difference for our loved ones.


Oral submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Finance – 2020

M. Little: My name is Margaret Little. I’ve been a member of Save Our Northern Seniors for 20 years, and for 20 years, we have made presentations to every politician and group that we possibly can. We have worked closely with our community partners, and during the COVID crisis, we have worked even more.

I realize that I sent in a lengthy document, but I wanted to tell you a bit about our dynamic community. I hope that you will take time to look at the recommendations that the select standing committee made last year. Those ones are still really, really important to our community.

I’d like to thank those people who have worked in our community making life better for seniors. It has been a tremendous effort. However, after COVID-19, we can’t be put back on the shelf and say: “Okay, we’ll just do a little bit.” We have to make giant steps in all directions for seniors.

Our priorities for Fort St. John and the area are a third house at Peace Villa designated as a dementia village as well as assisted-living units. We need more staffing at all levels, with more personal time for seniors, either in a facility or at home.

Improved support services, such as physiotherapy and recreation time with space for activities, are an extremely important feature. We’d like to have locally grown food. We need to have enhanced transportation systems and funding for support services and wages.

Finally, we would like to have more educational opportunities to encourage recruitment and retention. The people who work on the front lines sometimes never get the credit that they should get.

In your document, I have provided the page numbers for you. So it’s easy for you to find where my issues are.

I want to talk about the spaces in our community, our facilities. We have 346 spaces for people. There are 199 people waiting on the list.

There are 353 people getting support in the community. Now, I know that one would say: “Well, they aren’t all just in the community. They’re probably on the list somewhere too.” So even if you take that in half, there are 453 people waiting for some sort of support or placement.

The assisted living, as of May 2020, was 28 people.

We need more home support. If the government is really and truly believing that we should keep people in their own homes, then we need to have the support put in place.

Our Fort St. John Hospital for years has had waiting times. They don’t have enough staff, and the emergency always has a waiting list. Pre COVID-19 there were anywhere between 15 and 20 people in the hospital waiting for placement at Peace Villa. Our community needs alternatives for people who are using the emergency — more doctors, more health practitioners, more walk-in clinics.

Staffing is needed at all levels. There’s a real need for a staffing ratio in our care homes, and this is really important. These numbers didn’t come out of thin air. They came out of the seniors advocate’s report. Right now a resident gets 3.36 or, depending on the number you’re using, 3.47 hours of direct care.

Now, I want to ask you. If there’s nobody to give you a bath, nobody to help you go to the bathroom, how would you feel? There have been cases across the province where seniors are not getting that support. It’s time for the government to put their money where their mouth is. We need to have more support and more staffing.

Why do we have difficulty retaining and recruiting staff? Part of it is the public image. I’ve been watching on Facebook and every other social media, just like other people, and every time you turn around, there’s somebody getting slammed because they aren’t doing a good enough job. We need to support the people who are going into the health professional fields.

There are things that we can do to help improve services. There needs to be more recreation. We have groups that go into the care homes, into the North Peace housing and anywhere that they are invited, where they provide music. It’s a wonderful opportunity for our residents. The adult day program needs to be enhanced. Right now there is no daycare program because of COVID. I understand that.

There needs to be a chance for caregivers to have opportunities to have respite, counselling times, financial assistance and just somebody to listen to.

B. D’Eith (Chair): Margaret, if I may, you’re out of time. If you could please wrap up, I would appreciate that. Thank you.

M. Little: Okay. I’m just going to mention quickly…. The handyDART service only runs once during the day, not on the weekend.

My priorities are travel to other centres — we need help for rural people going to other centres, a PharmaCare strategy, a third house at Peace Villa, more staffing; more educational opportunities to encourage recruitment and retention.

B. D’Eith (Chair): Thank you so much, Margaret.


SEPTEMBER 26, 2019

Northern Health
Northern Health says it is temporarily suspending new admissions at Peace Villa due to staffing challenges.
The health authority announced the news Thursday morning, saying the move is necessary to “ensure continued safe, quality care” for current residents.

“In spite of aggressive and continuing recruitment efforts and available incentives, a number of positions remain vacant at Peace Villa. Demand for health care aides, Licensed Practical Nurses and Registered Nurses is high throughout the Northeast,” Northern Health said.

Northern Health says it’s working on a plan to deal with the staff shortage in consultation with the ministry of health, and is reviewing inter-provincial mobility and training incentives.

“The team will also work with local management to address any immediate care concerns related to staffing, and will work closely with residents and their family members to address any issues or concerns,” Northern Health said.


Jean Leahy (above) sadly passed away at the end of August, 2019. Jean leaves a huge void in the community where she was a tireless advocate for health issues.



Jean Leahy awarded the Ida Peever Award from Better At Home
Jean Leahy awarded the Ida Peever Award from Better At Home

Jean has been an active member of the community of Fort St. John and is the president of SONS since its inception.
Laura Beamish – Better At Home:
“For the second year, we are presenting the Ida award that is named after Ida Peever. This award goes to a person who is an organizer, a go-getter and who has made change for good in her community and takes care of those around her!
Jean Leahy has been active in the community for years. She has represented those who needed representing and has always been a voice for those who needed someone to speak for them. Currently she does both these things as the president of SONS.
There is a saying “I am fairly certain that given a cape and a nice tiara, I could save the world,” and I think that definitely applies to this year’s IDA AWARD honouree Jean Leahy”

Salt Spring Island Community Health Society

Salt Spring Island Community Health Society
181 Booth Canal Road
Salt Spring Island
B.C. V8K 2N2
Jennifer Williams, President – 
Martha Taylor, Vice President & Acting Treasurer –
Jane Horsburgh, Secretary –

Sheryl Taylor-Munro – Director
Karen Olsson –

Salt Spring Community Health Society October/November 2021 Report

Mental Health continues to be a focus of the SSCHS.  July 19/20, instructor Seia Roots (CMHA Vancouver/Fraser Valley Branch) conducted a two day in-person MHFA for Adults Who Interact with Youth. The session was held at the Lion’s Club following COVID-19 regulations. 

Discussions to open online sessions to a broader SSI audience were discussed. The farming community has reached out looking for courses. Tentative dates for the next online course are January 8/9 and January 18/19 2022.

In our November Board meeting the Board unanimously elected a new director, Sheryl Taylor-Munro.

November 23 we had the first of two wrap up sessions on strategic planning to meet our goals  The  final one will be December 15 2021.

The Board members continue to investigate and plan for a Community Health Centre with the initial solution being a mobile health unit. Applications for funding will be the focus for the board in December and the New Year.

Our next Board meeting will be 09 December 2021

Respectively submitted by
Karen Olsson
SSCHS Board member

Salt Spring Community Health Society March/April/May/June 2021 Report

In March planning began for in-person MHFA courses for spring or summer depending on COVID-19 regulations. By May the board had booked an instructor, Seia Roots (CMHA Vancouver/Fraser Valley Branch) for Two 2-day back to back sessions July 19/20 for Adults Who Interact with Youth and July 21/22 for Seniors. The sessions will be held at the Lion’s Club as they were in August 2020. In June ads went out inviting residents of Salt Spring Island to attend.

Meetings on strategic planning to meet our goals continued through the months of March and April. The Board members have found the sessions very useful. A wrap up session will be held in the Fall 2021.

Individual Board members have been looking into various aspects of the plans for a Community Health Centre, including available spaces, costs of an electric mobile health unit, and ways to collaborate with the health professionals on the island.

On June 7th last Board meeting for the summer was held outdoors in Jane’s garden.

Our next Board meeting will be the end of August or early September.

Respectively submitted by

Karen Olsson
SSCHS Board member

Salt Spring Community Health Society January/February 2021 Report

2021 January 22: We held the SSCHS AGM, unanimously electing Jennifer Williams – President, Martha Taylor – Vice President & Acting Treasurer, Jane Horsburgh – Secretary.

To meet the ongoing need to respond to the mental health issues on the island we organized and held virtually 2 MHFA training courses with Kristin Stein as the instructor, February 18 – 19 and February 24 – 25. There were 10 people registered for the first session and 8 for the second session.

In-person courses are on hold until COVID-19 restrictions are reduced. There are 15 on the wait-list.

We looked into offering Naloxone training. Again, because of COVID-19 we were not able to offer it. However, we sent all those who had taken the MHFA Training the Public Health information on how to access the training from Public Health.

We are seeking extensions to funding that because of COVID has not been spent.

Ongoing are meetings on strategic planning to meet our goals.

Our next Board meeting is scheduled for 2021 April 09

Respectively submitted by

Karen Olsson

SSCHS Board member


The report is an analysis of data collected between May 6 and June 3, 2019 using online and paper surveys, in-person interviews and focus groups.

A significant portion of the report is dedicated to the Social Determinants of Health – housing, food, financial, social connections and self-determination. The other two sections of the report focus on access to health services and community health needs.

Over 560 islanders, aged 15 yrs and over, responded to the survey, which is an excellent response rate.

Report Synopsis

Full Report

The Report and Synopsis are also available in hard copy at the Salt Spring Island Public Library.

Salt Spring Community Health Society November/December 2020 Report

The SSCHS initiatives were interrupted by COVID-19 regulations. The planned MHFA Training session that was to be held November 22 to 23 was postponed to January 2021 with about 36 participants waiting to take the training. There will be possibilities for online training in the New Year. In addition, there were requests from the community for Naloxone Intervention Course. A board member is looking into the possibilities including working with public health to create a pamphlet for distribution.

Contact with the Act Now community member group continues.

Interviews with 5 candidates, out of 22 applicants, for a SSI resident to take the MHFA Instructor training took place in December. Three persons were chosen to receive training, one for the Basic Training, one for Seniors, and one for Adults who work with Youth. Grants will cover their training.

The AGM will be held via ZOOM January 22 2021

Salt Spring Community Health Society September/October 2020 Report

The SSCHS continues to be active with the Mental Health First Aid Training initiative. Of the first two groups of participants from the August sessions 27 have formed a group, Action Now. They are considering becoming supporters of SSCHS. Collectively they have been looking into the Zimbabwe Friendship  Bench. Lots of ideas being discussed. Lots more to discuss. The process has started.

We have 20 registrants for a proposed MHFA Training session November 22 and 23. And we have 16 on the wait list.

The Mental Health First Aid grant money will also support up to three SSI residents to become certified Instructors in Basic, Seniors, and Adults who Interact with Youth. Twenty-two applications were received. An interview panel of three has been struck – one board member, and two community members – to interview five candidates. Interviews will be happening in November.

Local doctor’s offices and first responders received additional community PPE – face-shields, isolation gowns and alcohol hand sanitizer – as did the Galiano and Pender Island Fire departments. In addition, more than 10L of hand sanitizer was donated to the local Community Flu clinic, which was held at GISS November 6 – 8.

Our next board meeting will be this Friday November 13th with the AGM scheduled for Friday December 11th.

Respectively submitted by

Karen Olsson

SSCHS Board member

Salt Spring Community Health Society Summer Report

Received September 10

During the months of July and August, the SSCHS has been very busy developing, organizing, and running two Two-day sessions of CMHS Mental Health First Aid Training for Salt Spring Essential workers and Salt Spring Community members.

Through grants the society was able to offer the training sessions to community members for free and for sponsored essential workers for 1/2 price.

Under COVID-19 protocol the sessions were held at the Lion’s Club Hall, August 24/25 and August 27/28 with 23 participants in each session.

The community response was overwhelmingly positive. Many contributed to the cost of the sessions to the extent that another session will be held later in the Fall.

Participants are wanting to organize a community group to act now to respond to the resulting increased mental health crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board meets this week to begin plans for assisting community members in organizing a Mental Health response.

Respectively submitted by

Karen Olsson

SSCHS Board Member


In the last two months we have recruited two new Board members and a number of new members to the Society, a new book keeper, health management advisor, and held our AGM.   In addition, the Board is now preparing for a Retreat in February. This exercise will be focused on setting clear, action oriented goals based on the results of the Needs Assessment completed last fall. Additionally, we plan to define our governance structure to enable agile execution of the steps necessary to reach those goals. 

Our President also attended a workshop to learn more about what is needed to best access funding from Foundations and other major granting organizations.

Jennifer Williams
President SSI Community Health Society

October, 2019

The Society has been very busy during the month of October and has accomplished a great deal as we move forward.

We now have a volunteer bookkeeper and are interviewing for a Treasurer for the society.  In addition, candidates for the Board have been identified and are being interviewed.  The date for the AGM is set, as well as space booked for the meeting.

As a result of reaching out to the clinical community, some of our local physicians have expressed interest in meeting to explore how we can work together. The initial get-together will be happening shortly. One of those physicians has also directed us to a route for support and funding, which is being followed up. We have also had a meeting with one of the psychiatrists on island, who has agreed to be our volunteer clinical mental health advisor.

Our Volunteer clinical advisor gave us some very good direction with respect to initiating a Quality Management and Quality of Care program.

Representatives to both SHAAN and SGI Advisory Committee are now appointed. We have also been given the name of a facilitator for a possible visioning/strategic planning session.

Jennifer Williams
President SSI Community Health Society

Distributed to: SS Health Advancement Network, BC Health Coalition, BC Rural Health Network, Canadian Association of Community Health Centres, BC Association of Community Health Centres, SS Family Physician Chapter, Rideau Community Health Services, SS Foundation, Adam Olsen, MLA, SS Community Alliance 

About the report:
The report is an analysis of data collected between May 6 and June 3, 2019 using online and paper surveys, in-person interviews and focus groups. Over 560 islanders, aged 15 years and over, responded to the survey, which is an excellent response rate.

In addition to the report, we’ve attached a one-page synopsis to give you a broad overview – with key themes – gleaned from the research and information-gathering the SSCHS has undertaken over the last two years.

Here’s what we think the report is telling us:

We need to focus on helping to address the needs of people who experience significant barriers to accessing health care on Salt Spring Island

Initial focus/area of greatest need: mental health

Further considerations – the community’s desire for:

  • a community health centre with team-based primary care that offers improved access to specialists, diagnostic tests, monitoring, and complementary services that also offers – or connects patients easily to – needed social services
  • outreach services and health education
  • support for groups advocating for such issues as safe, affordable housing and affordable supports for seniors, and 
  • affordable dental care

Now that we’ve heard from islanders, our sincere hope is that this report stimulates conversations and collaboration between different government and community organizations to aid in the Salt Spring Community Health Society’s desire to create a community health centre with programs and services grounded in the needs and priorities of the people we hope to serve.

If you have any questions about either document, or would like to add your voice to the conversation, please don’t hesitate to send an email to


Salt Spring Island is one of the Gulf Islands located in the Salish Sea between mainland British Columbia and Vancouver Island. Health Services are located in the community of Ganges Harbour.
“We are a brand new society on an island in need of a primary health care centre. We formed as the current fee for service system has been unable to recruit and retain family doctors. A mental health nurse practitioner was placed here about one year ago. As primary care providers are the door to health care services offered by the MSP, we find that 25-35% of our residents have to use an emergency room as their primary care centre. Way too often these are the most vulnerable, those who do not know how to navigate a health care system. At this juncture, we are going through early growing pains and certainly appreciate the support of those who have been down this road before us.”

September, 2019 

The Salt Spring Community Health Needs Assessment is now complete.  It has undergone a complete review by the Board and by our Clinical Consultant. The full report and a synopsis of key findings are now ready for release. Both are being distributed first to the members of the Community Health Society as well as key community leaders and stakeholders, and will be released to the community-at-large within the next two weeks.

We are also announcing some personnel changes. Curt Firestone is no longer on the Board of the Salt Spring Community Health Society. Curt is now involved with the BC Rural Health Network (BCRHN).  Treasurer Dale Schack is also stepping away from the Board for personal reasons. Jennifer Williams becomes Society President. Martha Taylor is our new Vice-President.  A new Treasurer will be announced shortly.

In conjunction with Wave Consulting, Ltd, the Salt Spring Community Health Society has conducted an island wide health needs assessment survey.  The survey was developed by Wave Consulting in conjunction with a 21 member advisory group consisting of SSI residents from all walks of life.  The survey includes two major sections in addition to the standard “who are you” type questions (age group, etc).  There is a section on the Social Determinants of Health and another on Access to Community Health Services.
The Salt Spring Island Community Health Society has generously offered all BC Rural Health Network members to use this survey at any time for their community health needs assesment.

July, 2019  SUMMARY

The Salt Spring Community Health Society is very pleased to announce that Marcus Greatheart, MD has joined us a Clinical Consultant.  Dr. Greatheart will continue to be based in Vancouver where he provides medical services to a wide range of patients including: the elderly; palliative care patients; people with physical and mental health issues and to the LGBT community.

Initially Dr. Greatheart will:

  • Collaborate with Society board and staff in development of strategic plans to provide health care for identified communities
  • Support the development of a strategy to engage the community through education
  • Collaborate on the integration of clinical services into the SSCHS plan

Interspersed with summer plans, the SSCHS Board is reviewing the data which has come from the Community Health Needs Survey.  Upon completion, the gathered information will be shared with the community as a whole.


There is not a lot new to report for the month of June, 2019.  The Community Health Society continues to work with Wave Consulting on the finalization of the Health Needs Assessment Survey.  There were 561 respondents to the survey.  The compilation of the information received is well under way.  Then the report will be proofed and edited.
The SSCHS Board expects to review the report for the first time in August.  Soon thereafter, it will be made public.

We wish everyone a very pleasant summer.

Distributed to:  SS Health Advancement Network, BC Health Coalition, BC Rural Health Network, Canadian Assoc. of Community Health Centres, BC Association of Community Health Centres, SS Family Physician Chapter, Rideau Community Health Services, SS Foundation, Adam Olsen, MLA, SS Community Alliance, various respected community members  


Community Health Needs Assessment Project

The Community Health Society wishes to thank all Salt Spring Residents for their participation in the Community Health Needs Assessment and survey project.  Enough completed surveys were handed in or completed on line in order to provide statistically viable results.

Wave Consulting is conducting some individual and group interviews this month.  This will enhance the result viability.

It continues to be the Community Health Society’s desire that the results will be shared with Salt Spring Island Residents after Wave Consulting completes their final report.  We hope to give you a date in next month’s Summary.

May 27, 2019 Town Hall

Marcus Greatheart, MD in his presentation at the Community Health Services’ Town Hall meeting shared his perceptions of how a community health centre would compliment SSI’s existing health services.  Dr. Greatheart is a family physician on the staff of Three Bridges Community Health Centre (CHC) in Vancouver. His combination of a master’s degree in social work with his medical degree professional highly qualifies him to work with very complex patients.

As an employee of Three Bridges CHC, he has comprehensive 30 minute visits with patients.  These patients include those with critical problems of aging, mental health issues, dependency issues and those needing culturally sensitive care across gender and sexual identity.  These are the same patients that may not thrive in the typical short visits in a private practice physician’s office.

Three Bridges CHC includes a team approach with physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, social workers and consultants all available to give comprehensive services.  In a community like SSI, the family doctors working in the BC fee for service model are often forced to keep their patient visits short and do not have the availability of other team members within their private offices.  A CHC is funded to have a range of health service practitioners.

Having both models available on SSI would greatly enhance the range of services for the wide degree of diversity that is Salt Spring.  By having a CHC, our family doctors would have additional referral resources.

The CHC allows for walk-in patients by building that time availability into the daily centre work schedule.  A patient is most often given a same day appointment if required.

This takes considerable pressure off the emergency room with its high overhead as the ER is designed to resolve trauma issues.  

Dr. Greatheart’s training included time on Haida Gwai where he became very sensitive to issues within the First Nations’ community.  He also did a family practice rotation with Shane Barclay, MD at the former King’s Lane Clinic.

Distributed to:  SS Health Advancement Network, BC Health Coalition, BC Rural Health Network, Canadian Assoc. of Community Health Centres, BC Association of Community Health Centres, SS Family Physician Chapter, Rideau Community Health Services, SS Foundation, Adam Olsen, MLA, SS Community Alliance, various respected community members  

April, 2019 SUMMARY

April, 2019 was all about working towards May.  The Community Health Society has two big events this May.
Community Health Needs Assessment Project

In conjunction with Wave Consulting, Ltd, the Salt Spring Community Health Society is conducting an island wide health needs assessment survey.  The survey was developed by Wave Consulting in conjunction with a 21 member advisory group consisting of SSI residents from all walks of life.  It includes two major sections in addition to the standard “who are you” type questions (age group, etc).  There is a section on the Social Determinants of Health and another on Access to Community Health Services.

As reported in the Driftwood and in the Exchange, the survey will be open from Monday May 6 until June 3.  You are encouraged to participate by going to:   This is open to Salt Spring residents.

May 27, 2019 Town Hall – Everyone is invited
This is the second SSCHS Town Hall.  It is both a time for the SSCHS to share information with the community and to hear the community’s health service questions and suggestions.

Guest Speaker:  Marcus Greatheart, MD.  Dr. Greatheart is a Vancouver based family doctor who specializes in serving patients with mental health and/or addictions problems, working with seniors and also working with people within the LGBTQ community.

SSCHS will be sharing the results from its 2018-19 interviews with health and community leaders and discussing the Health Needs Assessment Project which will be underway.

We will have plenty of time for questions and comments.
The town hall will be held in the Multi-purpose room at GISS starting at 7:00 PM on Monday, May 27.

Distributed to:  SS Health Advancement Network, BC Health Coalition, BC Rural Health Network, Canadian Assoc. of Community Health Centres, BC Association of Community Health Centres, SS Family Physician Chapter, Rideau Community Health Services, SS Foundation, Adam Olsen, MLA, SS Community Alliance, various respected community members


The Salt Spring Community Health Society has chosen Wave Consulting to undertake a community health needs assessment.  Wave Consulting comes highly recommended.  Some of their clients include: BC Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions; the Rural and Remote Division of Family Practice and Gabriola Health Care Foundation.

This is now an opportunity for the Salt Spring Community to speak to what health services are missing, where there are gaps in services, what additional services are needed on Salt Spring, what are our health priorities and do we want a community owned and operated non-profit multidisciplinary health centre.

Wave Consulting will be meeting with both Community Health Society board members and a specially created advisory committee made up of community, health and physician members.  From these meetings, the health needs assessment will be designed and implemented.  If timing goes as planned, a town hall will take place this autumn for the community to receive the report.

As a lead up to the health needs assessment, the Community Health Society has conducted 28 interviews with community and health leaders on Salt Spring.  The initial six page report of the interviews has been shared with Community Health Society Board and is now being condensed into a summary document to be presented to the community at a town hall scheduled for May 23.

At the beginning of March, the Community Health Society had a table at the Film Festival.  Yet another opportunity for Salt Spring residents to be involved in the discussion of what health services are missing and what needs to be done on Salt Spring.

February 2019

The Salt Spring Community Health Society has a wide range of announcements to share with the community.

BC Government announces:

1. Ten new urgent care centres to open in 2018/19.  The BC provincial government has yet to determine where the new centres would be located.

2. Funding for 200 new family doctors. The new physicians will be free to work on contract or on fee for service.  In a fee for service plan, the MD is a self employed business.  On a contract, the physician might work for Island Health, for a profit enterprise or for a non-profit health delivery agency. 

3. Funding for 200 new nurse practitioners.  Nurse Practitioners have been providing primary health care in other parts of Canada and the USA for decades.  The nurse practitioner under the provincial plan might be self employed or part of a government agency or part of a non-profit health services agency.

4. Local health delivery services are being reorganized into primary care networks.  A primary care network is a group of patient medical homes in a defined geography linked with primary care services delivered by a health authority and/or other community-based organizations.  A patient medical home is a family practice where doctors work with teams of health professionals and in local health networks to bring services together around patients, and where patients experience timely access to continuous, coordinated care. The primary care team could include doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers and other health professionals.  A rural geographic area should include 10-50,000 residents.  Each primary care network must have an established Collaborative Services Committee so that the community served is fully involved in the design, creation and evaluation of health services.  

Salt Spring Community Health Society (SSCHS) announces:

The Salt Spring Community Health Society was chartered by the Province on January 24, 2018.  Its mission is to promote community health by seeking to expand local access to primary health care on Salt Spring Island and to support an inter-professional community health centre.  It is a non-profit society.

A new website has been designed in order to facilitate community and society transparency.  The site may be found at 

SSCHS will be raising funds to create the necessary infrastructure so health professionals are encouraged to successfully relocate to Salt Spring Island and become part of the community.  To that end, SSCHS is taking steps to create an effective fund raising mechanism.  Money raised could be used to build/equip/operate a Salt Spring community health centre. 

Hold that date!

1) On September 11 there will be a Town Hall meeting.  The SSCHS wants to gather information/ideas from the community.   This is the community’s health services system and SSCHS needs your input.  They hope that this is the first of several town halls.

2) On September 25 SSCHS is hosting a Forum featuring Peter McKenna, executive director of two Ontario-based rural community health centres. McKenna will be speaking on the Ontario model of primary care.   Ontario is the leading province in the creation of community health centres as the backbone of primary health care service delivery.

 In an effort to work in collaboration with and to have access to provincial and federal resources, SSCHS has joined the following organizations: Canadian Association of Community Health Centres; British Columbia Association of Community Health Centres; British Columbia Rural Health Network and the British Columbia Health Coalition.

Contact: Curt Firestone; 250-537-1935

December, 2018

Currently, the Salt Spring Community Health Society (SSCHS) is able to give donation tax receipts through a formal arrangement with Salt Spring/Gulf Islands Community Services Society.  In December, the SSCHS submitted a Revenue Canada application to facilitate our own registered charity status.  When in place, this will greatly enhance our fund raising ability.  

The SSCHS approved a timeline for the Community Health Needs survey project.  As a community based, community operated health society, it is the Salt Spring Island community who should decide what services are needed.  As community members we know that there are health service gaps.  Which gaps are the most critical and should be resolved first?

One component of the survey has been underway since the beginning of December.  Thirty key community members have been identified for a one on one interview.  All interviews are scheduled for completion by January 31.  The results of the interviews will assist in the composition of the community wide survey and will be part of the community report.

The SSCHS plans to present the survey results to the community at a May, 2019 town hall.  

Then the fun work of financing and implementing community based, community operated health services will begin.  Testimony from around the world has shown that when the community takes responsibility for health services, they are most effective.  When government health services operate in full collaboration with the community served, they are also most effective.  The SSCHS on behalf the Salt Spring Community plans to work in full collaboration with the BC Government and the local health authority.


November seemed to be a month of special meetings.

Salt Spring Health Advancement Coalition (SSHAN) hosted several Island Health Authority administrators at a meeting with SSI health providers, administrators, advocates and elected officials.  The meeting was designed to share information from all different prospectives.  

Some of the main themes included:

  • Housing issues
  • Gaps in mental health services
  • Community engagement earlier in the process of health care planning
  • Impact of water supply issues on health care and housing
  • Impact of the new provincial government on changes in the direction of care
  • Progress toward a Community Health Network on SSI
  • Lady Minto Hospital Emergency Department renovation

For more information contact SSHAN.  Dana Ypma. or David Norget

The Salt Spring Community Alliance (CA) devoted its November monthly meeting to the topic of health services.  After presentations by David Norget, co-chair of SSHAN and Curt Firestone, President: Salt Spring Community Health Society Board; the CA developed a list of health services gaps and focused some attention on the LMH emergency department’s renovation. For more information contact the CA.

The SS Community Health Society (SSCHS) marked its first year in existence with an annual general membership meeting.  The first year was reviewed and progress was noted and appreciated.  The membership approved a 2019 budget and elected the 2019 Board.  Board members are: Dale Schack, Martha Taylor, Gwen McDonald, Jane Horsburgh, David Norget, Dave Taylor, Jennifer Williams, Curt Firestone and Rob Grant.

For more information contact SSHAN.  Dana Ypma. or David Norget

After the AGM, the 2018-19 Board reviewed the membership’s input regarding SSCHS 2019 goals.  The following goals were adopted:

 a) to conduct a survey and a series of interviews to gather community input on Salt Spring Island’s most pressing health care service needs;

b) to develop a business plan, develop and initiate a fund raising plan;

c) to enhance our visibility in the community, regionally, and provincially; 

d) to design and implement our first health service component.

The SSCHS 2019 Board officers are: Curt Firestone, President; Dave Taylor, Vice President; Jane Horsburgh, Secretary; Dale Schack, Treasurer.

At its November meeting, the British Columbia Rural Health Network in recognition of the world wide community health centre (CHC) evolving development formalized its relationship with the Australian Rural Health Network.  Australia has been very successful in developing CHCs in its vast rural areas.  We, in British Columbia, have a lot to learn from them.  It is heart warming that existing CHCs wish to mentor emerging CHCs.  Interdisciplinary CHCs are the outpatient health services delivery system of community choice in the 21st century.

The SSCHS wishes all Salt Springers a happy holiday season with friends and family.  May good health be a joy to cherish!

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November, 2018

Salt Spring Island Community Health Society released two videos, interviewing Peter McKenna, Executive Director of the Rideau Community Health Services in Ontario, Canada.

With many thanks to Salt Spring Island and Peter McKenna.

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August was notable for the announcement that three additional medical doctors would set up their family practices on Salt Spring Island.  Furthermore, all of the current doctors shuffled their physical locations in order to create space in existing offices for the new physicians.   It is sincerely hoped that all Salt Spring residents will now have a medical doctor or nurse practitioner who will serve as their primary care provider.  No one will have to leave the island for basic health care services.  No one will have to sit for hours in an emergency room to receive services typically rendered in a primary care provider’s office.  There will be more time for those who already have a family doctor or nurse practitioner to review multiple health care issues in one visit; to receive routine preventive care services.


Salt Spring Island is currently being served by both full time family doctors and part time family doctors.  It has been estimated that between 2500 and 3500 residents do not have a family doctor.  It is the community’s hope that the new doctors are full time and that they will carry all residents who do not currently have a primary care provider on their patient panels. 

For the Salt Spring Community Health Society Board of Directors, August was a month of ironing out administrative details and enjoying the summer season.  September brings a renewed level of activity as we continue to forge ahead to bring a comprehensive multi-professional community health centre to Salt Spring Island.  Both the BC Assoc. of Community Health Centres and the Canadian Assoc. of Community Health Centres meet this month.  We will be there networking with those who have created dynamic health centres in their communities and those who like us are now creating a new centres.

Having enough family practitioners on Salt Spring is a wonderful first step in the comprehensive health centre development.

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July, 2018 SUMMARY

July became a month of attending meetings, working with other organizations, doing technical work and preparing for the September Town Hall and Forum.

Gwen McDonald was appointed as the SSCHS representative to the Southern Gulf Islands Advisory Committee.

Technical work was completed on the application for registered charity status.  This is a 12-15 month effort.  In the interim, SSCHS has intermediary status allowing for charitable donations to be tax deductible.

Preparation work is well underway for the September 11 Salt Spring Island Town and for the September 25 Forum with Peter McKenna.  Hold those dates.

The SSCHS continued to have meetings with Island Health, BC Rural Health Network and the BC Assoc of Community Health Centres.

Distributed to:  SS Health Advancement Network, BC Health Coalition, BC Rural Health Network, Canadian Assoc. of Community Health Centres, BC Association of Community Health Centres, SS Family Physician Chapter, Rideau Community Health Services, SS Foundation, Adam Olsen, MLA, SS Community Alliance, various respected community members  

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In the true sense of community cooperation, the Salt Spring and Gulf Islands Community Services Society and the Salt Spring Community Health Society have entered into an Intermediary Agreement.  This agreement was approved by both Boards of Directors in June, 2018.  It will allow for funds to be donated to SS/GI Community Services for the sole purpose of funding capital and operational activities of the SSCHS.  Registered charity receipts will be given in accord with Revenue Canada procedures.  The agreement is for two years while SSCHS applies for and hopefully receives its own registered charity status.

The Board heard a report and discussed the need for dental services on SSI.  This critical health service is currently provided by four private dental practices.  Those patients without supplemental insurance plans must either pay full cost (which for many is high) or be eligible for provincial dental financial assistance.  Unfortunately the reimbursement rates for those on dental assistance are so low that most local dentists choose not to accept these patients.  This is especially true in as much as their caseloads are already overflowing.  The principal low income dental program located in Victoria does not accept non-Victoria residents.   An off-island, reduced fee program in Nanaimo is the only current resource.  Unfortunately, it is complicated by the travel logistics.  There are concerns on SSI if dentists decide to leave for retirement or other reasons; especially since a new dental practice is very expensive to create and operate.

The Board adopted a fiscal year of November 1 to October 31.  This is in line with the already adopted month of November to the annual general membership meeting.

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The Salt Spring Community Health Society (SSCHS) is pleased to announce that it now has a web site.  While the website is not yet complete, it is an opportunity for Salt Spring residents to learn more of what the Society is doing and to engage with us in our efforts to meet the community’s health care service needs.

At a special General Meeting of the SSCHS, new wording was proposed for the Society’s constitution.  The wording was recommended by the Society’s attorney.  The following was adopted as Society purposes: “a) to promote health by providing the public of the Salt Spring Island community with access to primary care medical services by developing a multi-disciplinary health care centre; b) to promote health by providing the community of Salt Spring Island with primary health care services or products that prevent and manage serious threats to health including access to related counselling, information, or group support programs.” 

During the month of May, the SSCHS decided to join the following organizations.  This is enabling the Society to work with our peers in an effort to get the very best information about what is happening across Canada.  We will be carefully listening to Salt Spring residents and gaining guidance from other health societies and organizations.  We have quickly learned that we are part of a historic movement in BC and Canada to improve the delivery of health services.

BC Rural Health Network
Canadian Association of Community Health Centres
BC Association of Community Health Centres
BC Health Coalition

The Salt Spring Forum hosted Andre Picard, Health Journalist for the Globe and Mail.  Approximately 150 Salt Spring residents were in attendance including members of the SSCHS and health care providers.  You are referred to the May 30 edition of the Driftwood for a summary of Picard’s presentation as written by Gwen McDonald and Curt Firestone.  Needless to say, it was an inspiring call to action to bring Canada’s health care delivery system into the 21st century.

Powell River

Powell River Voices    

Drena McCormack     

Vision: “We have a long-term vision of Powell River as a resilient community where the values of transparency, sustainability, and broad citizen participation prevail in civic governance.”

Powell River is a city on the northern Sunshine Coast of southwestern British Columbia. Most of its population lives near the eastern shores of Salish Sea, which is part of the larger Georgia Strait between Vancouver Island and the Mainland.

Powell River Voices set up a committee to organize a petition for Healthy Food in Healthcare. Their letter to the Vancouver Coastal Health Authorities can be found below.

Letter to the Vancouver Coastal Health Authorities

BC Association of Community Health Centres

BCACHC advocates increased investment in Community Health Centres throughout the province as a cost-effective way to improve access to high-quality, patient-centred and community-oriented primary health care.

In carrying forward its mission, BCACHC collaborates actively with provincial partners, Community Health Centre associations in other provinces, and the Canadian Association of Community Health Centres.

What are Community Health Centres?

Definition: Community Health Centres (CHCs) are multi-sector healthcare and social service organizations that deliver integrated, people-centred services and programs that reflect the needs and priorities of the diverse communities they serve. A Community Health Centre is any not-for-profit corporation or co- operative which adheres to all five of the following domains:

  1. Provides inter-professional primary care
  2. Integrates services/programs in primary care, health promotion, and community wellbeing
  3. Is community-governed and community-centred
  4. Actively addresses the social determinants of health
  5. Demonstrates commitment to health equity and social justice

To read more, visit