KHAG membership rejects press ban

The Kitimat Health Advocacy Group annual general meeting approved all the recommended changes put forward by its three directors - except one.

The Kitimat Health Advocacy Group annual general meeting approved all the recommended changes put forward by its three directors – except one.

Changes to its constitution that enlarged the group’s mandate to “advocate for improved community health service over time reflecting the changing needs of our community” and that it should henceforth be recognised “as the advisory council for our community and that health authorities…be requested to consult with (KHAG) prior to establishing local health service plans or making changes to local health care services” received unanimous support.

Also unanimously approved was the recommendation that KHAG continue to have three directors but that the group membership become more formalised, consisting of 16 people representing specific entities in the community.

Until now anybody has been able to show up at a meeting and vote on anything that came up at that meeting regardless of whether they had ever attended a KHAG meeting before that.

And there was similar support for the proposal to change the meeting schedule from the current once a month (except for a summer break) to five times a year – September, November, January, March and May – plus the annual general meeting in June.

But the proposal to ban the press from future KHAG meetings did not fare so well.

Mary Monteiro started the ball rolling, asking, “The press has always worked with us so why should we not allow them to work with us in the future?”

City councillor Mario Feldhoff suggested there might be people who were not attending meetings who might be if the press was excluded.

“And perhaps, to some degree – I don’t know for sure – the NHA (Northern Health Authority) would be consistently round the table.” He also pointed out the proposal would see KHAG communicating the results of its meeting via a press release or an interview.

Feldhoff said he had read the Sentinel editorial on the proposal and while it made “good arguments”, he agreed with the directors’ recommendation.

But that was the extent of support for the idea.

Ingrun Hagemann said, “I never felt there was a problem having the press here, they have always dealt very fairly with us.”

Agreeing there had been no problems in the past, Phyllis Gregg  suggested any in-camera items could be dealt at the beginning of the meeting then the press could join them “which would save a lot of bother”.

She added that a lot of people would prefer the press to be present because there would be someone other than KHAG members there to hear what they had to say.

Luella Froess said she suspected the presence of the press was why the NHA “so rarely turns up to a meeting”.

Adding it was important that NHA was at KHAG meetings, she thought Gregg’s idea was a good one.

The members overwhelmingly passed a motion that the press continue to be allowed to attend KHAG meeting with the proviso that if any item was deemed in-camera, the press would remove itself from the room for that portion of the meeting.

The role of the press also came up during discussion of the new meeting schedule. Raising the lack of advertising of meetings in the past, Hagemann said it was important that people knew when the next meeting was taking place.

And she pointed to the Coming Events listings in the Northern Sentinel and Northern Connector as a way to ensure they did.


In its election of officers, KHAG member gave a vote of confidence to sitting directors Rob Goffinet (chairman), Anne Berrisford (secretary) and Dr. Derek Carstens (treasurer) by returning them by acclamation.