Province of BC reduces home-visits for first time mom's unless...

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jaimelr's picture
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Province of BC reduces home-visits for first time mom's unless...

Have you guys seen this?
http://www.timescolon...

I just sent in my letter to the politicians quotes in the article and encourage everyone to do the same if they think this is the wrong direction to be heading.

Here is my letter - feel free to copy and make changes that pertain to your situation.

Subject -
Healthy Start Program - NOT a healthy start for first time mom's who aren't low-income, at-risk and under the age of 25. Please reconsider this decision.

Email -

I am writing in response to the Time Colonist article about the Healthy Start initiative which will see "first-time, low-income and at-risk moms under the age of 25" receive nurse home visits following their discharge from hospital while other new mom's will receive "a phone call from a public health nurse and resources will be offered to mothers who request assistance or are flagged by hospitals, doctors and health-care workers as needing help — whether in the form of a home visit, breastfeeding support or professional referrals, for example, according to the province."

My son was born May of 2010. I intended to breastfeed for the recommended 6 month period only - if I was able to. After pushing through the difficult initial period of learning and mastering the art and technique of breastfeeding I have been able to enjoy this act with my son even after having returned to work full-time while I continue to breastfeed once at night with my eye on meeting the new Ministry guideline of 2 years of breastfeeding.

I am neither low-income or at-risk. Nor am I under 25. I cannot begin to tell you how helpful the home visit from my public health nurse was. When I was told she would be coming so soon after my discharge from hospital I thought it would be a wasted visit. How would I possibly have had enough time to have questions or problems in that short period of time? Well by the time she arrived the day after I was released from hospital I had a list of questions. In addition, she was a huge help in helping my son and I continue to improve our breastfeeding. Within the 3 days (2 of which I was in the hospital with nursing support) I had managed to injure one side of my body (the result of poor latch and poor positioning) which caused intense discomfort. My husband can attest to the threatening looks I sent him any time he did anything that risked waking up our son because I could just not bear the thought of having to feed on that side again. But the nurse who visited our home was very supportive and reassuring and educated me a great deal on how I could have more success. There is NO way this same result could have been delivered over the phone.

Breastfeeding is hard. I would estimate that 50% of my post-secondary educated, middle-class income friends who had kids between the ages of 25-35 were unable to breastfeed for one reason or another. Everyone assumes it will come naturally to mother and child but it often doesn't. (There are too many factors and causes to list in this short letter). Or, in many cases, the child loses too much weight to wait for everything to "click".

Health Minister Mike de Jong's assertion that 'many mothers already have a broad support network, including family, midwives and family physicians' "but there are others who do not and we are not going to apologize — in fact, I am proud of the fact — that Healthy Start is about focusing on those mothers and those families who don't have that support" is misguided. Yes we might have more support than some of the women being targeted by your program. But, we all pay taxes and we all deserve support. Without the support there will be reduced success rate in breastfeeding, increased numbers of exclusively formula fed babies (have you seen the provincial health brochures on the benefits of breastfeeding?), and increases in doctor's office and hospital visits with infants who become unnecessarily sick or malnourished. Mothers (and their supportive fathers and families) will find parenthood even more stressful and challenging than they already do.

I strongly urge you to reconsider this decision. This strikes me as a poorly disguised cash-grab. Luckily for the Province (under this policy) the average age of first time mom's is increasing. So until the average age hits some plateau that we all become at-risk for some reason your cost should keep decreasing under this Program! All first time moms, regardless of income, age, and risk-assessment NEED and should receive a home visit from their public health nurse. Other resources are available (breastfeeding clinics, La Leche League support, etc) but these are sometimes beyond the physical ability of a sleep-deprived first-time mom.

What happened to Families First? I would gladly give back the February Statutory Holiday to know that all first-time mom's were getting a home visit from their public health nurse.

Jaime Roberts
http://www.timescolon...

cc:
Mike deJong - Liberal Minister of Health [email]Mike.deJong.MLA@leg.bc.ca[/email]
Sue Hammell - NDP Deputy Health Critic [email]sue.hammell.mla@leg.bc.ca[/email]
Mike Farnworth - NDP Health Critic [email]sue.hammell.mla@leg.bc.ca[/email]

yellow.rose.of.canada's picture
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I figured I should comment on this as another mom who actually lives in the province of BC... Smile

We deal with this problem in our little town to the nth degree. I am not against social assistance, but I'm tired of the fact that there are really no programs or assistance offered to anyone else besides those who are low-income/high-risk.

As pastors, we see a lot of people who now have a huge entitlement issue and expect everyone to treat them this way. The sad thing is, with their family allowance, child tax credit, universal child care benefit, and their numerous other social benefits (free transportation, childcare, medical, and I'm just getting started- none of which we are eligible for) they are bringing in significantly more money every month than we are. They have fancy tvs, their kids have every toy known to man, and they can buy drugs, while we make just enough to pay our bills.

Oh, and I have no family or support system nearby. And I couldn't afford to take a class, or put my kids in preschool. Sorry to sound bitter- we're just constantly "rescuing" people who are in a far better situation than we are but are not responsible. Maybe they could throw in some free budgeting classes or something?

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*Lurker*

If I could chime in, being another B.C. mother? I am so tired of the "low-income" population of this province just sitting back and raking in all the gov't has to offer. People who will continue to pop out a kid every few years to keep their welfare checks coming in.

My husband works hard to support our family, and while he was on EI for a while this year, he darn well earned that money from working so freakin' hard up until that point.

It is because of the "lazier" if you will, population around here, since they expect to get taken care of by the gov't, and the gov't gives in, that they feel the need to cut services to people who can benefit from them. Maybe if the gov't stopped giving themselves and their corporate friends such over-bloated salaries and pension funds, then there would be more money to run the programs that are necessary here.

I guess clean needle exchanges are more important than the future taxpayers of our province??

I'm not against social assistance either- to people that truly are in need. I honestly believe that our entire welfare system needs a complete overhaul. There has to be a little more discretion used by the gov't around who qualifies and who doesn't.

And in reply to De Jong's comment that we have family, doctors, etc for support. Ummmmm, what percentage of B.C. ers don't have a family doctor? Last I checked it was pretty high. And not everyone has family living close by.

Anyways, sorry about the rant. The stupid gov't is a hot topic at our house Blum 3

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Our upcoming election will be interesting won't it!?

I couldn't agree more. I wish our entire system in Canada could be fully reviewed. Then we could start fresh. We have so many programs, subsidies, etc that I don't think we even know how much they add up to for any particular sub-group of society. Let's just start fresh, add up all the benefits and taxes for each group and boil that down to be the new net tax rates for each sub-group (I don't even care if some people have a negative rate!). Lets be honest, most of these programs have been put in to buy votes leading up to elections and we have just layered them one on top of the next.

My husband got very mad after we had our son. We got 3 letters from the government in one day. Letter 1 said "congratulations you qualify for the universal child tax benefit" (everyone up here gets that). The second letter said "congratulations you qualify for the xyz child supplement". And the third letter said "we regret to inform you that you do not qualify for the xyz child supplement". Now the funny things was that neither my husband or I were expecting any of these benefits. But my husband was livid to find out there was yet another program that he could not access. (Don't get me wrong - we are appreciative for what we have. But we work very hard, gave up a lot of things (and still do) to have what we have).

A second story I have is that my cousin (Cdn) and her husband (S. African) and their 3 kids moved back to Canada recently pretty much penniless (moved in with her parents) after their farm failed in S Africa. They have been astonished at the level of public funds / support they have received. Yes it is almost impossible to raise a family on $12 an hour (both parents are working - the grandparents are retired and provide child care) but they cannot believe the difference between the support they get here vs the support they had in S Africa.

I am a recycling fanatic and am horified that we have a carbon tax which does not contribute any money to our public transit infrastructure. No-no, the way the carbon tax is supposed to help is by taxing fuel consumption making it less appealing to drive which in turn reduces how much we drive (those who drive more pay more) and then redistributing that money to low income earners. I do not see the green-logic behind this. I am 100% behind a carbon tax that goes to improving public transit - but anything else does not make the connection for me.

And as for charging a sales tax (HST) on everything and then giving rebates back to people? That just seems like a lot of administration. Lower the basic tax rate on the lower income brackets and cut out the administration of the rebate scheme.

I agree - social assistance has a real role in our world. I volunteer (am feeding the homeless this Saturday in fact) and am fairly left-leaning in my beliefs when it becomes to social support etc - but I agree that things have gone way too far up here. There are not that many people who's taxes are supporting a lot of people up here. With our ageing population things are going to start falling down around us (our parents (baby boomers) are going to drain our public pension fund (basic retirement payment to all Canadians - that is also clawed back if you make too much income from other pensions sources) and our medical system.

Sigh.

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"buildingthedream" wrote:

I'm not against social assistance either- to people that truly are in need. I honestly believe that our entire welfare system needs a complete overhaul. There has to be a little more discretion used by the gov't around who qualifies and who doesn't.

Well said! That is how I feel about it here in the US

yellow.rose.of.canada's picture
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"buildingthedream" wrote:

*Lurker*

And in reply to De Jong's comment that we have family, doctors, etc for support. Ummmmm, what percentage of B.C. ers don't have a family doctor? Last I checked it was pretty high. And not everyone has family living close by.

Anyways, sorry about the rant. The stupid gov't is a hot topic at our house Blum 3

I agree with you. I remember when DH and I were first married, we lived in Surrey and NO ONE we knew actually had a family doctor. They all would go to walk in clinics (which fills quotas and misdiagnoses so many patients with "ear infections" or "strep throat" so they can give them antibiotics and get them out of there). I am lucky to live in a small town with a good number of doctors. If I had to guess, I would say that 70% of our town has a family doctor. But we are a huge anomaly.

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I'm sorry ladies! The US offers nothing like this, so I don't have much to comment on aside from I was 22 and 24 when I had my girls and if I had someone showing up at my door after I had the girls I would have slammed the door in their face.

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Up here you have two options which are both covered by our medical program - you can have a midwife (either in the hospital or at home birth) or you can have a doctor. If you chose a midwife then they also do the after care visits for a set number of week (or until you don't need them). If you have a doctor then you get a public health nurse who comes once (more if needed) and then will check in once or twice by phone.

It's is funny because I was talking about this at lunch today and there was one guy at our table and he asked "well what does the nurse do during the visit?" and I thought about it and then realized I was going to have to make my answer man-appropriate. She checks your stiches / delivery recovery (presumably the same for c-section), helps you with any breastfeeding questions or concerns and answers any other questions you may have. In my case (aged 34) I had use of these services for all three areas. I was not looking forward to her coming at all (I was tired and did not want to entertain anyone the day after I got out of the hospital) but it ended up being a very positive thing and I am glad for it. For a second baby I don't see myself needing it - I think that a second time I would feel confident enough to simply advise her on the phone if I felt I needed her to come over or not. But likely I don't think I would need her to come over a second time.

Having reflected further on the Minister's comments that people who are not in the categories they have defined as being more needing of this kind of help because they have more support from family and friends - I can't say too many of my family or friends would have (or did) help me out with inspecting my stitches (which ended up causing big problems about 3 days later and put me on my back for about 10 days) or helping with the breastfeeding (other than my mom when she was in town while I was in the hospital and with advice over the phone after she left).

Obviously at any time you can also go to your doctor or a walk in clinic or take advantage of other resources (breastfeeding clinic, etc).