Tina Lee of Penticton is a member of the B.C. NDP's provincial executive.

With COVID now entering Year 2, Interior Health and the Ministry of Health have one important job to do — get the people of British Columbia vaccinated.

Now is not the time for them to be focusing on shutting down Pathways Addictions Centre in Penticton.

Telling clients that their file is being turned over to IH with only a three-month notice is cruel. Giving staff and the volunteer executive at Pathways three months to create a Plan B and secure alternate funding is unfair and unrealistic.

Does somebody in a position of responsibility not like somebody else? Is IH kingdom building?

Pathways has a proven record of success. If Susan Brown, CEO of Interior Health, and Carl Meadows, executive director clinical operations South Okanagan — acute and community, need reassurance, they can ask any of the thousands who have benefitted from the fine work of Pathways. Ask a friend or family member of someone who has been counselled by Pathways.

At $500,000 annually — which includes nine staff members, maintaining a building and other expenses — it’s a bargain. There is no way IH can match this level of service for that price. Sorry, it can’t be done. Impossible!

It’s my understanding that Brown and Meadows have never stepped foot in the place, even though they’ve received invitations.

Yet they’re experts on Pathways.

I’ve never met Susan Brown, but she seems like a reasonable individual. I’ve heard good things. I know Carl. I like Carl, but I’m disappointed he isn’t standing up for the community he loves so much.

This could be coming from Victoria. It appears the NDP, doesn’t support “abstinence-based” treatment and recovery.

Penticton is handcuffed.

Although BC Liberal MLA Dan Ashton and his party leader Shirley Bond are trying hard to save Pathways, the public can’t say, “We will vote the NDP out.” We never elected them to begin with.

Our area does have other key NDP voices. Tina Lee, who was actively involved with Toni Boot’s 2020 campaign, is a member of the provincial executive. She probably has Minister Adrian Dix’s ear. She knows the premier.

Because IH’s services are so weak, many from across the valley turn to Pathways for help... and nobody is turned away.

Pathways’ help extends to the South Okanagan and beyond. Boundary Similkameen MLA Roly Russell, who is an NDPer, needs to do something.

What about Toni Boot? She was the NDP candidate in the October election. Pathways has clients from Summerland. So far, she’s been silent on this issue.

Better still, Richard Cannings is member of Parliament.

Although Pathways is a provincial issue, the NDP is the only party where a provincial membership also buys a national card.

Richard Cannings is good with people. He’s well respected on both sides of the aisles. He’s a scientist, a humanitarian. I think he can be the voice of reason.

Mr. Cannings, please step up on this file. Your community needs you now more than ever.

James Miller is managing editor of The Penticton Herald.