Health board under scrutiny

Differences have flared over who should be an Interior Health Authority board member

Differences have flared over who should be an Interior Health Authority board member.

During Tuesday’s North Okanagan-Columbia-Shuswap Regional Hospital District meeting, director Mike Macnabb challenged IHA chairperson Norm Embree to support having elected officials named to the IHA board to expand public accountability.

“Mr. Embree and I agree to disagree,” said Macnabb, who represents BX-Silver Star.

“I asked him if he supported it and he said no.”

Presently, IHA board members are appointed by the Ministry of Health.

Macnabb insists the public has no sense of decisions being made by IHA that impact health care services and the expenditure of taxes.

“The vital part missing is the public and the public is represented by elected officials,” he said, adding that representatives from regional districts or municipalities could help IHA promote vital concerns.

“We could be an ally to go to the public and say, ‘We’re in trouble,’ but instead, they sit in isolation.”

Embree, who lives in Salmon Arm, confirms that he doesn’t support Macnabb’s concept.

“If we start opening up the board to elected officials, we’d wind up exploding the size of our board,” he said.

“I don’t believe large boards work well, especially governance boards.”

Embree is also concerned that politicians sitting at the table could focus on their specific communities instead of looking at broad-based health care needs.

“It was tried in Saskatchewan years ago and it didn’t work because you get people with one thing (issue) on their mind,” he said.

In terms of transparency, Embree says that is an ongoing priority for his board.

“We have a good relationship with regional hospital districts,” he said, adding that any decision on board membership rests with the Ministry of Health and not IHA.

Despite Embree’s opposition, Macnabb vows to keep pushing for membership changes to the IHA board.

“We will carry on through the Southern Interior Local Government Association and the Union of B.C. Municipalities,” he said.