Personal Best: Time to improve communication

Pat Black takes a look at the ways in which a lack of communication between levels of government can cause confusion

Previously I had extolled the virtues of a government publication called My Voice: Expressing My Wishes for Future Health Care Treatment. This-56 page booklet is available online and can be copied free from the website or a copy can be purchased for $9, including shipping.

Unfortunately, this government still hasn’t gotten the message that not all seniors have, or want, computers or may be on a limited income and cannot afford the $9. One of my readers, Don Rollins, then attempted to find this publication and the following is an abridged account of his adventures:

“I called the Seniors Information and Resource Bureau/NOEES who had a copy of My Voice: Expressing My Wishes for Future Health Care Treatment, and could photocopy the document, in return for a “donation.” She added that it costs them about $3 a copy. I would have preferred the actual booklet instead of a photocopy, but figured $3 was better than $9. Before visiting their office I decided to see if Service BC (right next door) might have the booklet. At first glance, the free pamphlets seemed to involve vehicles and licensing, but closer examination showed a number of other publications, all free for the taking.

I could see no reason why the Advance Care Planning Guide should not also have been available, free, so I waited in line to speak with a service agent, who went into a back office and found their one and only copy of the guide, with a sticker on it saying: “Display Copy Only.” She explained: ‘We don’t give out any copies of this.’ I didn’t ask what good it did to hide the one and only “display copy” in a back office. I noted to her the several booklets with far more than the Advance Care Guide’s 56 pages, including the 165-page Seniors Guide in Punjabi that were free for the taking. She replied ‘I hear what you’re saying.’

“Before giving up, I visited Vernon Jubilee Hospital. They had never heard of the guide, but suggested I call a few funeral homes. I decided to stop off at MLA Eric Foster’s constituency office and explained the issue to a staff member, stressing the importance of the booklet, and noting Service BC’s odd policy concerning not providing the guide. She said she was not aware of the publication, but promised to bring the issue to Mr. Foster’s attention.

“As I turned to leave, I noticed a pile of government brochures and booklets set out on a small table…and there it was…the guide. Six copies, free for the taking. I took one for myself and I will also send an e-mail to Service BC, cc Eric Foster, the Ministry of Health, requesting that the guide be made available, for free, in all Service BC offices. In the meantime, there are still five copies over at Eric Foster’s office.”

Thanks, Don, for this and underlining the need for better communication.

If you have any comments or questions, please call 250-7928 or email me at

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