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Two weeks ago Health Minister Joy MacPhail announced "New Directions" was dead and "Better Care" was the way to regionalize the province’s health care system. But rather than provide details on how the new system will work, the ministry has only said what the community health councils can’t do. In fact, the community health councils, which were set up to take over management of health care facilities from local health care societies, have only interim roles as the membership of community health councils "will be reconstituted to meet the new guidelines, starting Jan. 1, 1997 and the activities of the present Council and administration will change in order to smooth the transition of responsibility to the newly constituted Council," a letter from deputy minister David Kelly states. That’s left the Sea to Sky Community Health Council and others with little direction and precious little time before they have to prepare a budget for 1997. Council chair Jim Miller this week wrote to MacPhail to try and get some clarification on the situation. "The amalgamation of all the societies in our community have been set to take place since before you announced the ‘freeze’ on regionalization," Miller writes. "The current boards of the Pemberton Health Centre, Whistler Health Care Centre, Howe Sound Home Support, Squamish Hospital and Hilltop House are very eager to pass on the authority and have the Council assume responsibilities for their operations. Unfortunately, most of them are also experiencing quorum problems because they have been on hold for such a long time. We have done a great deal of communicating and planning to ensure that all stakeholders are onboard with the Council’s health and management plan. Overall, we feel we have overwhelming support from our communities to proceed immediately." Council administrator Brian Kines told board members Monday he feels it may take until April before the new plan is in place, which will create a problem for financial planning. Miller outlined the problem in his letter to MacPhail. "Decisions need to be made today so that the Council does not have to make quick decisions at the start of the new fiscal year. There is no need for the Council to be put in the position of having to make extreme decisions when we can start to implement decisions today with proper planning and input. It is imperative that you realize that by giving Council authority you will enable them to ‘get on with’ the job of finding efficiencies and cost savings that will provide for the maintenance and possible enhancement of services to the people of the area." According to the deputy minister, the current council’s role will be "solely in an advisory capacity until the membership is reconfigured." But it hasn’t even been made clear how a new board is to be created.

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