By Paddy Kamen
British Columbia has been a hotbed of political unrest for the optical community for the past few years and the Canadian Coalition of Eye Care Professionals (CCEPro) is doing something about it. In fact, they turned out an impressive audience of hundreds of people on February 18 for a political event.
Vancouver’s Fairmont Waterfront Hotel was the scene of a meeting with B.C.’s New Democratic Party (NDP) leader, Adrian Dix, and his health critic, Mike Farnworth. The lineup of optical professionals wanting to attend the event was long and the buzz on the floor was considerable. Envision: seeing beyond magazine was there in the form of your’s truly.
The issues are important not only for B.C. eyecare professionals. This was clearly demonstrated by the presence of CCEPro executive members from across the country. Acting Executive Director Ali Khan* flew in from Toronto, the Chair of Ophthalmology, Dr. Hamza Khan, traveled from Victoria, the Chair of Opticianry, Ron Phillips from Langley, and the Chair of Optometry, Dr. Michael Naugle, came all the way from Moncton.
The issues on CCEPro’s agenda include the deregulation of optical dispensing and the devaluation of ophthalmic procedures (i.e., doctors getting paid less for certain procedures). A provincial election is to be held May 14 and at the time of writing, the NDP are widely expected to form the next government (note: the results will be known by the time this article is published). NDP Leader Dix, is on record as opposing the Liberal government’s deregulation of optical dispensing, and he spoke at the meeting about his own vision challenges related to the fact that he has diabetes. While making no promises, Dix assured CCEPro members that he would work collaboratively with them for the benefit of B.C. citizens.
CCEPro has 1,000 members across Canada, drawn from opticianry, optometry and ophthalmology. The organization believes that collaboration among the three Os is a key step towards promoting a balanced and beneficial care model to patients and policy makers. The event in Vancouver was a stellar example of CCEPro’s mandate in action.
*Ali Khan, one of the founders of CCEPro and still a consultant, stepped down as a director after the Vancouver event, in order to devote more time to the expansion of his business. The Board has promoted communications consultant Sheila Bissonnette to the position.