Women must keep fighting

By Genesa M. Greening

Today is International Women’s Day, and as I consider the seismic shifts that have occurred of late in business, the arts, and politics I am buoyed by the belief that women’s voices are finally being heard, inequity is being called out, and that change is coming.

Once untouchable icons are falling, industries are being reshaped, and a new era has begun – except in my universe:

  • the health sector.

I’ve experienced first-hand, the feelings of not being believed by a physician, of feeling disrespected and being infantilized.

In each instance, I found myself deliberating; is it just me?

However, amidst this emerging conversation that #metoo and #timesup have inspired, a fascinating separate dialogue is gaining prominence as more and more women share their stories of discrimination, inequitable treatment, and frustration at not being able to receive timely, appropriate and respectful access to health care.

What had begun as self-wondering organically spilled over into conversations with my friends and colleagues as media worldwide gradually started to report on stories similar to my own experiences – and judging by the overwhelming response, these issues resonate on a scale that was once hard for me to believe. 

Whether it’s the patient whose unimaginably miserable hyperemesis gravidarum symptoms are diminished as general morning sickness. Or the one-in-10 women suffering from painful endometriosis made to endure wait times ranging from 7-10 years to receive a diagnosis.

Or the countless number of women worldwide who are dismissed as hysterical when seeking help for their severe, chronic pain symptoms – that it is all, “in your head" and who are more likely to have their doctor refer them to a therapist rather than a pain clinic.

The examples are innumerable, and once you’ve become awakened to the phenomenon, you start to notice how pervasive it is. 

To understand part of what got us here, one only needs to appreciate that just 30 years ago, women weren't included in most healthcare and research studies. Or that even though women and men are physiologically different, many prescription drug therapies and treatments still in use today were disproportionally studied on men.

But historical inequities aside, what is especially problematic is that there is currently no funding body for women’s health research. Combine that fact with the grossly disproportionate level of investment in women's health research funding versus men, and it is pretty easy to see how women have been systemically set up to receive the short end of the stick.

We know that when women are healthy, all society benefits. That there is undisputed evidence that healthy women mean healthy communities, not just in regard to overall wellness, but socially and economically too.

On this International Women’s Day, while I’m pleased to see fractures in the current status quo emerging, I recognize there is a significant distance to go in the pursuit of respect, equity and access in women’s health.

We need to be reactive to women’s health needs as identified by patients, supported by research, and put into action by health care practitioners and government. This ongoing awakening as to the gender disparities within health will only change if brought to light.

  • Ask more questions 
  • Share what you learn 
  • Educate your allies and demand more 

It needn’t be an exercise in physician-shaming, male-bashing or levying historical judgment; rather it is the recognition of unconscious biases and how this moment in time, which is growing into a movement; has room for everyone to participate within it because the benefits unequivocally serve us all.

For all the women in your life, be they partners, mothers, sisters, cousins, friends or daughters; the door has finally been cracked open, and by being ruthless about communicating the facts on women’s health, regardless of the barriers, together, we can kick it wide open.

This is how movements get started, and it’s time to ensure women have access to the highest quality healthcare when, where, and how they need it.

Genesa M. Greening is president and CEO of BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre Foundation.


Vote for a Green change

The best vote for necessary change

By Robert Stupka

The Kelowna West byelection is a historic opportunity to vote for new leadership that advocates for this region and B.C. to be a leader in the 21st century economy.

With the BC Greens holding the balance of power, a true majority of voices are now represented in B.C. This byelection will not change who the governing party is, but electing the BC Greens gives Kelowna-West influence on government as they enjoyed before the last election.

Why consider voting Green?

The BC Greens transcend BC’s big party politics with fiscal responsibility, evidence-based decision making, and integrity.

They have shaped policy with both the BC Liberals and BC NDP for the better as well as holding the parties to account.

The BC Greens helped restore credibility to BC politics by banning corporate and union donations. They have had a positive impact on decision making, pushing for the necessary review of Site C, Fair Wage Commission, Affordable Housing Strategy and Emerging Economy Task Force to name a few.

I chose to run for the BC Greens because B.C. needs facts to prevail over political agendas.

I’m not a politician, but a professional engineer and partner in a small business who has first-hand experience working on important projects of provincial and local relevance including Site C, LNG, and transportation.

Our business also designs the most efficient homes in world and has been through Kelowna’s tech accelerator.

Kelowna West can be a leader in 21st-century city building and to seize the emerging economy.

As our population doubles, it’s necessary that our actions align with what we want this region and province to become. Today’s challenges such as transportation congestion are opportunities for innovation that could be exported throughout the world.

The BC Liberals are not good stewards of the economy as they profess.

The budget was never “balanced” as it required money from BC Hydro and ICBC, both of which are now in financial peril. LNG, key to the BC Liberals agenda, didn’t materialize even with royalties slashed, leaving unnecessary government funded pet projects and a runaway real estate market to make up the gap.

There was no other plan for the economy. The outcome is massive government debt — 30 per cent increase in six years. This also resulted in a significant loss of private sector investment and 10 times more jobs than Site C will provide in the clean energy sector.

Conversely, BC Greens were lauded by economists as “a card-carrying member of the economist party,” whose platform is very impressive, sensible and realistic.

Last election voters recognized B.C. is out of balance. This was validated by the BC Liberals throne speech that, as a final grasp for power, adopted BC Greens and BC NDP policies.

The inflated housing market has left generations behind, turning many into “mortgage slaves,” making the economy vulnerable.

While Ben Stewart does not believe it’s a crisis, the BC Greens have put forth a comprehensive plan to address housing affordability.

Socially, the province is in crisis control to manage mental health and addiction. B.C. has the highest child poverty rates in Canada.

Environmentally, many watersheds are significantly impacted, resulting in poor water quality. and many wildlife populations are in collapse.

These have significant multi-generational costs to B.C.’s economy, communities and individuals.

Managing these crises is consuming the ability for proactive action that can be more cost-effective and cause less harm.

These outcomes are not what I want for my province and community I love. During this campaign, we have shown that we are putting this riding first. We have led five events to hear from you and give you real answers, and the entire BC Green caucus has visited.

While Kelowna-West is a BC Liberal stronghold, it is not because of staunch support for their policies, but because of the benefits their hold on power had for the region and the lack of trust for the BC NDP.

Fortunately, BC Greens are offering voters something to vote for, not against, with smart policy and fiscal responsibility with a long-term vision. A BC Green vote will strengthen our influence on the BC NDP government for that to happen.

This is why BC Greens attract voters from both sides of the political spectrum and offer this region the best chance of having influence on government.

I know it can be easy to disengage and believe that you cannot change the system.

I can relate to advice BC Green leader Andrew Weaver gave to his students that eventually compelled him to run:

"we all have the power to change the system, if you're not engaged in it, you have no one to blame but yourself."

Eventually, he took that advice, inspired me, and I accept his challenge.

I hope that you accept mine.

Seize this opportunity for new leadership. Engage those around you in this byelection, share this article, and let them know their voice matters.

A BC Green vote is the best vote for the future of our province and region.

Advance voting is Feb. 6-11. General voting is Feb. 14.

Robert Stupka, a professional engineer and businessman, is the BC Green candidate in the Kelowna West byelection. He can be reached at [email protected].

EDITOR'S NOTE: All five candidates were invited to submit a column to Castanet. This is the second.

What is a Libertarian?

By Kyle Geronazzo

The first question I hear from most people is, “what is a libertarian?”

Comedian Drew Carey once said that a libertarian is “a conservative who still gets high,” and magician Penn Jillette has said “you have to be careful as a libertarian because you can sound very Republican.”

So there is often a tendency to associate libertarians with conservatives. When looking for the similarities, most point toward how both groups advocate for lower taxes and less bureaucracy.

But I don’t buy that. The moment the conversation is steered toward civil liberties, the war on drugs, and war in general, the very conservatives that we were previously grouped in with shout to the high heavens that we’re all a bunch of liberals.

So what the heck is a libertarian?

Well, if you think it’s wrong to hurt people or take their stuff, you might be one yourself.

What separates libertarians from both liberals and conservatives is that we extend that premise to our members of government too.

We believe that even though a lot of people might like you and the things you’ve said, that still does not give you the right to hurt people or take their stuff.

Libertarians are advocates for individual and economic liberty. To a libertarian, the ideal tax rate is the option closest to zero.

  • We do not believe in punishing victimless crime.
  • We are against corporate welfare.
  • We believe in freedom of speech.
  • We are against corporate monopolies, whether public or private.
  • We believe in the right to freely associate with whom you please.
  • We believe British Columbians deserve more options.
  • We believe that, unless you are harming another or their property, the government isn’t justified in laying hands on you.
  • We want our government to treat you like an adult, instead of trying to be your parent.

“OK. But who are you, and what are you doing on my door-step?” is usually the second question most people ask me.

My name is Kyle Geronazzo.

I was born the third child of four in Kamloops in 1988. Growing up in a home with four children and one working parent we weren’t exactly a rich family. Although we struggled from time to time, we always had enough to get by and we had each other.

Sometimes we had to move around the province for my father’s job.

In one such case, we had the opportunity to move to Kelowna. My parents leapt at the chance. Not only did we get to move to one of the nicest cities in Canada, most of our family already lived there.

Kelowna was paradise. The short and mild winters paired with our warm summers made Kelowna the perfect city for my childhood.

I love the valley. I think this is one of the best places on Earth, and I hope to continue growing my family here.

So it is with one eye to the future that I turn the other to our present. Although we are facing tough times right now, we have so many opportunities right on the horizon.

Each challenge is not an obstacle to overcome, but a chance to thrive and show the rest of Canada a better way.

We have now spent decades fluctuating from NDP to Liberal rule. I think it’s fair to say that by now we’ve tried it their way. No matter which of the two is in power, we face similar problems year after year.

I don’t have all the answers, and I’ll never say that I do. But I don’t believe that we can find the best answers with the one size fits all approach of our larger parties. If two heads are better than one, then surely 4,817,200 are better than 87.

Let’s retire the old top-down approach and give bottom-up governance a shot.

Albert Einstein once said “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Let’s find new solutions to the problems the old solutions have caused.

Kyle Geronazzo is the Libertarian candidate in the Feb.14 provincial Kelowna West byelection. He can be reached at [email protected].

EDITOR'S NOTE: All five candidates in the Kelowna West electoral district byelection were offered the opportunity to write a column stating why residents should vote for them.


Everything has changed...

...Even My Name

By Kate Dalton

When I last shared my life with the readers of Castanet, I could have never known how fortuitous the last lines of my column would be.

In March 2017, I discussed how I had left a job I didn’t feel was a good fit for me (mere months after joining the company and without another option lined up) and my journey to find identity outside my profession.

During that time of self-discovery, I shared that I had been set-up by friends on a blind date and that by most standards, it was likely not the ideal time to meet someone new as I was unemployed and temporarily living in my parent’s basement. 

Fast forward to January 2018, less than a year later, I’m employed at a company where I was recently promoted; I’m a homeowner, and, drum roll... I married the man I met on that blind date. 

Ok, let’s back this train up and start where we left off in 2017.

Intentional Unemployment Revisited

Looking back at the lessons I’ve learned this past year, my new working title would be “Don’t burn bridges, even when you’d rather push people off them.”

You never know who is going to crop up in your life again. As a general rule, I would advocate treating others well whether they can do something for you or not and striving to create authentic relationships no matter how temporary a situation you find yourself in.  

Last year, I ended up working for three different companies. Long story short, I gave myself permission to explore new roles and subsequently to leave some that did not seem to be a fit.

Nonetheless, I gave each employer my best efforts and I chose to see the unique attributes of new colleagues and find common ground with them. 

In the end, I found myself back with a team I had formerly worked with, but had left on great terms. In the journey of unemployment and new employers, I found connections, encouragement and assistance in the most unlikely of places and forged lasting connections with numerous people, even if we no longer share a cubicle.

I am fully convinced that no matter what life throws your way, you will never regret being civil, maintaining a professional stance, and striving to view the actions of others through a lens of compassion and grace. (Disclaimer: I usually only attempt to take the aforementioned high road after I’ve had some wine and vented with my girlfriends).

Low Expectations

That’s exactly what I had when I went on a blind date with my now husband. His cousin and my friend set us up. The only photo I had seen of him showed he had an affinity for wearing festive Christmas suits.

I decided to break from current societal norms and refrained from stalking him online prior to our date. We decided on a non-committal morning coffee. Three hours and two lattes later (well, he had an Americano if you want to get specific) we both knew there was something special about our interaction.  

He asked if I wanted to meet up again, I responded with an overly eager “YES” and we were engaged three months later. 

I was 30 years old when I went on that date. I would not consider myself an overly dramatic person, but I had recently come to terms with the idea that I may never meet someone I had the desire to see for a second date, let alone marry.

It truly was the most unexpected time for me to meet my future husband and I’m quite thrilled that I kept an open mind and refused to settle for relationships that did not feel like the best fit for me (much like employment).

Now, that I’m a wife, I’ve carried the notion of low expectations into my marriage. For me, this is not pessimism, but rather a healthy outlook.

In the vows I read to my husband on our wedding day, amid the list of hopeful and seemingly altruistic pledges I made, I was sure to include the promise that “I will always be imperfect and I will make mistakes. There will be misunderstandings and days when we feel disappointed, hurt, and annoyed.”

And it’s held true. And I’m nonetheless very happy and full of gratitude. I don’t expect anything more from my husband than I am willing to give to him, and sometimes I expect even less than that. 

We both started from a place where we acknowledged that if neither of us ever changed, it’s OK — we are enough as we are. 

I’ve never been happier or felt more loved, appreciated, and accepted, and yes, I have an incredible husband with some great qualities, but I firmly believe that those low expectations and taking the pressure off of what marriage and life are supposed to look like are total game changers.

It’s OK to Not Be OK

I don’t have a magic formula for how to achieve your best life in under a year. Maybe you’re currently experiencing some of the most difficult moments of your life. Make no mistake; my year was not without struggle.

There were times of self-doubt and fear, and there were many tears cried, and self-help books read, and countless conversations with amazing people who lifted me up when I wasn’t sure where my path would lead.

Sometimes we need to keep moving, but other times we need to get some practice just being still. It’s OK to admit when you’re not in a great space. It’s brave. It’s vulnerable. It’s good for the soul.

As I like to say to my husband, “You do you,” even if you’re still figuring out who that is.

Kate Dalton believes in the power of investing in people. With a varied background in marketing and communications, Kate has a growth-mindset that drives her to continually develop as a person and a professional, helping others along the way. Email: [email protected].

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About the Author

Welcome to Writer’s Bloc, an opinion column for guest writers to share their experiences and viewpoints with our readers.

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Opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of Castanet. They are not news stories reported by our staff.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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