LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Gaps in health care system a reason for homelessness

Crux of the matter lies with access to health services, says letter writer

To the editor,

Re: Housing, opioid crises the real threats, Letters, July 18.

I read with interest all the letters about homelessness in Nanaimo and how it is not being addressed properly. This problem is not exclusive to Nanaimo. It is Canada-wide. In order to make changes, we need to get to the crux of the matter. What started this crisis? And how do we solve it? There are several issues here: mental health, opioid addiction, etc.

A few years ago, we used to have mental institutions that housed needy people with support treatments. With no future planning, for treatments or housing, the government shut these institutions down. Some of the patients had been there for decades and had no ability to fend for themselves. A lot of them ended up in the streets.

The opioid crisis has been created by the government as well. If people have severe pain from prolapsed discs in the back, the waiting time to see a neurosurgeon is 18 months. The surgery is another two years. In the meantime, the patients have to be on opioids in order to just live, let alone work and be useful members of society. The same goes for hip or knee replacements. The government is quite happy for you to take opioids while waiting for the surgery. They don’t care about addiction because pharmaceuticals are not covered by the government but by individuals and when they can’t afford them, they turn to street drugs. This eventually leads to homelessness, begging and stealing. Some patients die while on a waiting list for surgery.

Let’s face it. Our medical system sucks. In the last few years, because of need, some private surgical centres have opened up throughout Canada so those who can afford it, have a choice. The government now says they won’t allow private surgeries to continue, but they are not closing these centres down.

So all of us should keep this in mind during the next election. Our medical system needs revamping big time. Just vote for whoever addresses the issues of mental health and the opioid crisis by providing proper treatment support for those in need plus low-cost affordable housing. Let’s make homelessness a thing of the past.

Gulzar Hallman, Nanaimo

The views and opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the writer and do not reflect the views of Black Press or the Nanaimo News Bulletin. If you have a different view, we encourage you to write to us or contribute to the discussion below.

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