News Releases

BC Rural Health Network appoints Connie Howe as Administrator

January 10, 2020
The BC Rural Health Network (BCRHN) is very pleased to announce that Connie Howe has been named as its new Administrator.  After almost two years of development work by a dedicated Board of Directors, Howe becomes the first paid staff of the Network.

BCRHN provides rural British Columbians with a strong and unified voice advocating for the improvement of healthcare services. 

“An Administrator endowed with Connie Howe’s background and skills comes along all too seldom” says Ed Staples, BCRHN President.    Howe has just stepped aside from being Executive Director of Princeton and District Community Services Society.  She is well versed on the needs of rural residents and the operations of a major not for profit society.

Funding for the Administrator is supported by the Rural Coordination Centre of BC and the British Columbia Academic Health Science Network.  Both organizations recognize the valuable contribution the BC Rural Health Network is making in the enhancement of rural health services.  BCRHN will now have the professional administrative skills needed to meet its goals and objectives.  “Howe’s 30 years of experience with community services programs is just what the doctor ordered” adds Staples.

For further information:
Curt Firestone


For Immediate Release
November 18, 2019
(Unceded Coast Salish Territories – Vancouver, BC) 

On Monday, November 18th, final arguments began in the Charter challenge that put public health care on trial.

The legal attack launched by one of the largest for-profit clinics in Canada seeks to invalidate key protections in the BC Medicare Protection Act which prohibit physician extra billing and duplicate private insurance for medically necessary procedures.This case is the most serious threat that the public health care system has ever faced. It seeks to erase from our laws the fundamental concept of care based on need, not ability to pay. 

“We joined this court case because we believe in defending a public health care system where everyone is covered, everyone is treated equally, and no one goes broke paying for their care,” said Edith MacHattie, a representative of the Coalition Intervenors, which includes the BC Health Coalition and Canadian Doctors for Medicare.

“Brian Day and his lawyers have argued that it’s okay to profit off people’s illnesses. We disagree. All that this case has proven is that a private for-profit system would improve access for the healthiest and wealthiest while creating longer wait times for everybody else. Privatized for-profit health care means that you’ll pay more, get less and be worse off.“ continued MacHattie to a group of community members gathered outside the courthouse

Contrary to CEO Day’s claims, this case is not about protecting patients’ rights or solving the issue of wait times. Cambie Surgeries has not proven that the laws protecting public health care cause lengthy wait times or harm patients’ access to care. Instead, the evidence has shown that public solutions are the best cure for the problem of wait times, and allowing a private tier of health care would worsen wait times for all but the wealthy, and drain resources from the public system.

In Australia, private insurance was encouraged with the goal of reducing wait times, but in fact what occurred is that wait times in the public sector did not improve; in areas where private health care was most used, wait times in the public system went up. [Defendant’s Closing Submissions, p. 375-376]

Expansion of private insurance and care would disproportionately impact patients who are not considered “profitable” in the private system. Glyn Townsend, standing in front of a banner that read “Save Our Medicare”, spoke about the negative impact of a two-tier healthcare system on those with complex health issues and chronic illnesses.

Glyn, who has required health care to monitor and treat his HIV for almost 30 years – has been able to access care because Canada’s health care is publicly funded. If Glyn had been forced to pay for his necessary hospital visits, which have included admission for chicken pox and one for severe shingles, he might have been forced to choose between his health and bankruptcy.

The final arguments of the controversial case will be heard over the next 3 weeks. 

Ayendri Riddell
Campaigner, BC Health Coalition
Phone:  604-787-6560
British Columbia Health Coalition · 3102 Main St, 302, Vancouver,
Unceded Coast Salish Territories, BC V5T 3G7, Canada 



For immediate release:
Kelowna, BC
May 11, 2019

The BC Rural Health Network (BCRHN), advocating for improvement in health
delivery systems in rural communities throughout British Columbia, burst on the
scene officially this past Saturday. In existence since December, 2017, the
BCRHN has rapidly gained a strong advocacy reputation in the province.

Meeting in Kelowna on May 11, 2019, the BCRHN came together for its first Annual General Meeting where member organizations elected a Board of Directors and ratified their Constitution and Bylaws. Over the past year, in meetings with other provincial health organizations, Health Authorities and the Ministry of Health, the BCRHN has proven to be a reliable partner as it advocates for improved access to health resources for British Columbians living outside the urban core areas.

The first permanent Board of Directors represent the broad spectrum of our rural and remote sections of the province.
Pam Beech – Eagle Valley Community Support Society (Sicamous)
Curt Firestone – Salt Spring Island Community Health Society
Connie Kaweesi – Save Our Northern Seniors (Fort St. John)
Jude Kornelsen – Centre for Rural Health Research, UBC
James Leslie – Hornby Denman Community Healthcare Society
Sue McCrae – South Shuswap Health Services Society (Blind Bay)
Pegasis McGauley – Nelson and Area Society for Health
Colin Moss – Slocan District Chamber of Commerce Health Committee
Edward Staples – Support Our Health Care Society (Princeton)
Elaine Storey – Autumn Services Society (Fraser Lake)
Johanna Trimble – Individual member (Roberts Creek).

Ed Staples, President of the Support Our Health Care Society in Princeton, is one of the founders of the BC Rural Health Network and has served as its Chair for the past year. At the AGM Staples stated that, “our primary purpose is to present a strong and unified voice for change and by sharing our success stories with each other we can identify our common concerns and tackle them together.”
One way to help resolve these identified health service delivery problems is the emerging Community Health Centre initiative. The Community Health Centre model has had considerable success throughout Canada and it presents a real opportunity for improving access to primary health care in rural BC.

In its short history, the BC Rural Health Network has grown from six founding members to 23 members, representing all regions of the province. This new society looks forward to working collaboratively with our members and partners in our efforts to improve the health and well-being of rural British Columbians.