Letter to the editor 1, April 7, 2016

Dear Editor,

My name is Wolf William Solkin, and I am the "Ste. Anne's Hospital resident" referred to in Your Local Journal, March 31, page 7. That piece emanated from a telephone-interview by your journalist, John Jantak, with specific reference to the imminent transfer of this facility from Federal to Provincial jurisdiction.

In the course of that conversation , I expressed my criticism and concerns that numbers of the recent employees were less experienced and less capable than the former and remaining staff, as well as not being adequately bilingual, and therefore the publicly proclaimed pledge of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC), that the pre-existing (high) standard of care tendered to the Veterans at Ste. Anne's would not be degraded or diminished by the transfer, was in evident and imminent danger of not being upheld from the very outset.

While Mr. Jantak's quotes and/or paraphrases of most of my comments were mostly on point, I must respond to various comments relating to me, as attributed to M.P. Peter Schiefke, who, it seems, has quite recently and rapidly become so well versed in the circumstances and conditions at Ste. Anne’s, as to feel confident enough to take exception to my assessment of the prevailing situation.

Mr. Schiefke's grounds for his opposing views appear to have been arrived at "...because no complaints were voiced to him or to Minister Hehr (and others) when they met with veterans' representatives and patients during their visit and tour of the hospital"… (and was thus assured ) "that the quality of care...is going to stay the same."

Moreover, Mr. Schiefke, of whose previous presence at Ste. Anne's neither I nor some very long-term personnel have ever before been aware, was quick to suggest that "this person" (i.e., I ) would do well to contact Minister Hehr personally to voice my grievances and went the extra mile by offering to expedite the process.

While I acknowledge the helping hand extended to this seemingly misled, misguided, and misinformed old Vet, I find it difficult to accept that Mr. Schiefke's "almost four hours" spent being swiftly shepherded through a pre-planned guided tour and selective visitation, conducted by senior administrative personnel, and directed and introduced to some carefully culled veterans' spokespersons, can trump my three full years of living here in residence, and being actively involved and informed, in situ, of virtually every visible aspect of the transfer proceedings.

That participation has included frequent, one-on-one personal and productive conversations with Mr. Richard Neville and Ms. Faith McIntyre, the two Chief Negotiators for VAC re the transfer terms and conditions; General (Ret'd) Walter Natynczyk, the Deputy Minister of VAC from the time of his appointment to the present; and, more recently, the VAC's appointed representative on the newly formed Transition Committee, Lieut. General (Ret'd) Michel Maisonneuve. One might almost assume that we are on "speed-dial" terms, so rapid and ready are our exchanges of communications.

In addition, of course, my direct and continuing relationships with fellow-Veterans, my ongoing contacts with numerous staff members, from the (former) Executive Director, on down through the ranks to the ubiquitous orderlies and the almost invisible cleaning crews, are a constant and essential wellspring, shaping my advantageous viewpoint of Ste. Anne's , past, present, and future.

I am, therefore, of the considered opinion that, notwithstanding Minister Hehr's well known reputation for accessibility, compassion, and readiness to receive input, I need hardly, and would be reluctant to, take advantage of those qualities, by unnecessarily imposing myself upon him, when his senior staff have for so long been so gracious and generous to me of their time and attention. Nor am I at all photogenic.

Mr. Schiefke is, of course, entitled to his own favourable conclusions as to the repetitively cited "seamless transition," and his prognostication of what lies in store for Ste. Anne's vulnerable Veterans, as well as being free to convey those convictions to his concerned constituents.

Respectfully ,

Wolf William Solkin

Ste. Anne's Hospital

Ste. Anne de Bellevue


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