Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC

Vancouver Women's Health Collective Discriminates

The Vancouver Women's Health Collective (VWHC) which has been a group in existence since the 1970's and which has an unusual feminist ideology is now the latest group to see the Downtown Eastside/Oldtown area as a place to set up shop and cash in on people's misery.

The VWHC once ran a clinic in the 1980's but closed it down. In more recent times, the Health Collective operates from a small office in the historic Duncan building on West Pender Street. It does not provide direct medical services but offers referrals and has a small library. It is open 12 hours a week.

Now the VWHC has plans to open a women-only pharmacy on West Hastings street next to Army and Navy.

Needed answering is why the Vancouver Women's Health Collective wants to open a drug store in the Downtown Eastside which is already very well served by a number of longstanding Pharmacy's in the area.

Just recently a large Pharmacy, Rexall Drugs, opened up in the International Village complex and a new large scale London Drugs will be opening up in the Woodwards re-development. Also at the corner of Main and Hastings is the Garlane pharmacy and a few blocks east of that is Buckshon's Pharmacy.

So again why is the Vancouver's Women's Health Collective trying to open their own pharmacy?

I think the answer lies on their website which claims that the current methadone clinics are dingy places and not suitable places for women to attend.

As far as I know pharmacies dispense drugs and therefore I've never heard of anyone feeling unsafe going into a pharmacy.

For the VWHC to say that women must have a women-only specific Pharmacy in the DTES is concerning and needs examination.

I suspect the real reason behind the pharmacy idea is to prop up their sagging organization which has become redundant. Imagine only being open 12 hours a week. Their beliefs that a women-born-female-methadone-clinic will be the answer to their prayers is laughable.

I actually had a leading pro-choice feminist who I deeply respect suggest to me that if their Pharmacy doesn't go ahead their organization most likely will collapse.

One must examine why this organization lacks support and I suspect the reason is due to their extreme ideology.

Here is a paragraph on their political agreements taken from their website which puts everything into perspective:

"Therefore, we feel that it is essential that a woman be born a woman and have the physiology of a woman and the psychological experiences of living as a girl and a woman in order to embrace the work of the Vancouver Women's Health Collective. For us, membership and services are open to women who were born women".

So not only does this group want to cash in at the expense of females who are drug addicted, they want the right to freely discriminate against others in the process.

While groups such as the VWHC are entitled to determine their own political beliefs they should not be allowed to deliver public services which the public funds and especially with discriminatory policies in place.

It should be noted that Vancity recently gave this group $50,000 to assist them with their Pharmacy and the City of Vancouver provided them $25,000. They also receive charity gaming funds and federal funding.

Downtown Eastsiders and Oldtown Residents are fed up with these poverty parasites who view our neighborhoods as an means to an end. These Povertarians are using this neighborhood and its inhabitants for their own self-interests and greed.

This endless grazing at the trough must stop because it isn't helping anyone.

Keeping poor people shackled in chains, begging and stealing, trapped in endless drug addiction with no hope for their futures is absolutely criminal and an affront to humanity.

Stay tuned for future developments on this story.

Jamie Lee Hamilton


At 10:46 AM, Anonymous marilee said...

I was reading some of the ideas put forth by the new pharmacy, such as, some of the "extras" it would offer.

I am extremely interested in pharmacy and health care in general, and have strong views on what a pharmacy should offer it's customers. I believe that some independent companies have been offering these services for quite some time, and companies such as Shoppers Drug Mart and London Drugs have recently changed the direction that the role every pharmacist is expected to take.

A pharmacist, I believe, should be more than someone who fills a prescription. I believe that pharmacists and a pharmacies should be a major part of our health care system and respect the major role that they place.

Now, I agree with you that a women's-only pharmacy is not going to address the fact that not going to serve all of the people of the DTES and I believe that I have a simpler solution to address some of the problems with the current pharmacies in the DTES.

First, I don't think that we should necessarily get rid of any of the existing pharmacies or try to put them out of business by creating new pharmacies. These are local, community pharmacies, and even if the pharmacists are not currently offering the same level of health care as a Shoppers Drug Mart on the west side of Vancouver, they have probably built up relationships with many of their customers and that is an important part of pharmacy.

To bring the level of health care in these pharmacies up to a respectable standard that is serving the people of the DTES in a way I believe ALL Canadian citizens should be served by pharmacies, I thought that the Provincial Government or Coastal Health could hire enough nurses to place enough so that one is always working in each pharmacy in the downtown east-side.

The nurses would be on staff to:

- Provide free counseling for health related issues such as diabetes or emotional counseling.
- Provide blood-pressure testing, results and an explanation of those results.
- Provide referrals for more complicated or in depth health-related questions.
- And make sure that provincial regulations, such as methadone being taken on the premises, are followed by the pharmacists and the customers. (They wouldn't be there as police to intervene or stop violations, but they could report violations and I do believe that pharmacists would be less likely to violate black and white regulations such as the example given or more "grey" area violations such as kick-backs either if a nurses was on staff)
- To provide first-aid if needed.

The nurse would be there for ALL customers and anyone who entered the pharmacy that s/he was working in. I also think that the nurses should be hired because they have a connection to the neighbourhood.... just like they make sure that nurses have a connection to remote or rural areas before they send them off to a remote northern town in BC. That way, it would not be outsiders coming in. Instead, it would be neighbourhood people being paid by our government to give the same level of care that neighbourhood people in the west side are given to take care of their neighbourhood people.

What do you think, Jamie?

At 11:12 AM, Blogger Jamie Lee Hamilton said...

I agree with you totally Merilee. We have great street nurses down here plus the new London Drugs in Woodwards I suspect will be a real blessing for the people of Oldtown and the Downtown Eastside.

The proposed new pharmacy Lu's (VWHC) will focus primarily on methadone dispensing and they already have discriminatory policies so they will not be serving the public interest.


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