Fightback to save Port Alberni hospital gains momentum
Second Cavalcade of Hope takes protest to provincial legislatureIN YET ANOTHER show of community-wide solidarity, the fight to save hospital beds at Port Alberni’s West Coast General Hospital (WCGH) made it’s way to Victoria November 20, where a 150-car Cavalcade of Hope brought more than 300 demonstrators to the steps of the provincial legislature. Organized by the Save our Services coalition, the protest included Port Alberni citizens, municipal leaders and health care workers as well as supporters from other island communities and the Kootenays — one of the first regions to suffer hospital closures under the Campbell government. Amid chants of “save our health care” the protest delivered a First Nations canoe filled with 4000 letters to Alberni-Qualicum MLA Gillian Trumper. Trumper faced the crowd long enough to accept the boxes of correspondence from Port Alberni Mayor Ken McRae and Hupacasath representative Edward Tatoosh, before returning to the legislature where the letters were officially tabled. On the heels of Trumper’s presentation, opposition MLA Jenny Kwan tabled a 2,000-signature petition from Nelson and a 1700-signature petition from Grand Forks, both of which demanded an end to health care cuts in their communities. In the past three months the Port Alberni fightback has mounted a series of actions, including a 4000-strong community rally in late September and an October car cavalcade that ended in a protest rally outside the Vancouver Island Health Authority’s office in Nanaimo. Organizers say they will not give up the fight, vowing to keep the pressure up on government and the health authority.