Letter to the editor

Letter: IH CEO letter full of ‘plastic words’ vs. Pathways wording is direct, concrete

‘Interior Health letter has lots of fancy words, but nothing but ‘trust us’ promises’


I have no connection with Pathways, but in reading the two letters regarding them in the March 24 Western News was struck by their differences in language and tone. My linguistic background perked up its ears and said ‘there’s something going on here’.

First the language. While there’s isn’t space to go into much detail, the letter from the IH CEO used generalized, imprecise words that a philologist I once heard call “plastic words”, ones (‘change’, ‘barrier-free’) with so many possible meanings that they mean nothing. Also phrases used in talking about the services IH intends to supply to people with addiction problems were almost uniformly imprecise jargon; what has been called ‘bafflegab’ or ‘psychobabble’. Two prime examples: “ …it is about adopting the evidence-based, client-centred approach of the future”; and further on “…this will be a game-changer for supporting people with mental health and addiction challenges….”

The tone of the IH letter was subtly, but distinctly, implying, without evidence, that Pathways was not providing the services needed and that its staff were not keeping up with new approaches: stuck in an inadequate past. The opening sentence conveys this message, but similar undercutting occurs in almost every paragraph such as “By bringing these counselling services in-house we can follow up with people more effectively…. And ”We will improve care planning, medication support, wound care, psycho-social rehabilitation, ….” By the end of the letter, I was tempted to get out my violin to accompany the heady, if somewhat empty, sentiments.

In contrast to the above, the letter from the Pathways Executive Director uses only direct, specific words and phrases with a most refreshing lack of jargon or cliches. The tone and content are also direct and professional in answering very specific details of the IH letter and asking some undoubtedly uncomfortable questions. Without grandiose elaboration, the letter is clearly based on the 47 years of the organization’s experience in helping people with such difficulties.

Ms. Meyers points out a couple of egregious errors in fact in the IH letter to do with hours of operation and how people access services. The IH approach appears very bureaucratic and regimented in comparison to that of Pathways and does not seem helpful for people in crisis.

Apart from these differences in language and tone of the two letters, which alone make me feel much more confident of Pathways than of IH for this program, a new and unproven program carries no guarantee that it will be better than the old and well proven one. ‘Actions speak louder than words’ and the IH letter has lots of fancy words, but nothing but ‘trust us’ promises. Pathways’ letter by contrast has no fancy promises, just the weight of almost five decades of successful community program delivery.

Eva Durance


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Penticton Farmers Market is gearing up to open April 17 with COVID-19 safety protocols in place including mandatory masks. (Brennan Phillip/file photo)
Penticton Farmers’ Market needs volunteers, prepares for opening day

The Farmers’ Market will return to Main Street April 17

An old faucet. (Pixabay)
‘Wild wild west’ of water has Farleigh Lake resident concerned

Lack of oversight and unclear responsibilities has led to nothing but stress

The Cactus Court housing property was intended to have zero barriers for accessibility, but the door sills are visibly above the outer layer of concrete. It is one of the issues that BC Housing has hired a new contractor to fix. (Brennan Phillips - Keremeos Review)
BC Housing begins fixing issues at two Keremeos housing projects

The new plan is to have the units ready for residents by the summer

Slackwater Brewing, on Martin Street, is hoping this warm, sunny weather will bring out people to their patio and rooftop patio as do the dozens of other restaurants in town counting on patio visits during these difficult times. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Perfect patio weather brings perfect chance to help out Penticton restaurants

City boasts more than 30 patios to choose from, with more patios coming downtown soon

(Photo: pixabay.com)
Morning Start: More human twins are being born now than ever before

Your morning start for Friday, April 16, 2021

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Photo by Metro Creative Connection
New campgrounds coming to B.C. parks as part of $82M provincial boost

This season alone, 185 campsites are being added to provincial parks, says Minister of Environment and Climate Change

A Canada goose honks at other birds at Salish Park on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Goose addling program underway in Vernon

2021 cull applications in process as addling program enters 15th year

The Columbia Valley Wetlands are known for their extensive and fragile ecosystem. (File photo)
Wildsight speaks out against logging in Columbia Wetlands

Located 50 kms south of Golden, the proposed operation was justified as bark beetle management

Paper Excellence took over Catalyst Paper operations in B.C. in 2018. (Paper Excellence photo)
The Vernon Pickleball Association spotlights member Don Friesen ahead of National Volunteer Week (April 18-24, 2021). (Vernon Pickleball Association)
Volunteer praised by Vernon pickleballers

Marshall Field pickleball complex wouldn’t be possible without dedicated volunteer hours: VPA

Eight-year-old Piper and her family were raising money to help Guinevere, the bearded dragon, get a gynecological surgery. Sadly, the reptile didn’t survive the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Lizard fails to survive surgery, GoFundMe dollars help Langley family offset medical bills

Guinevere, a pet bearded dragon, underwent an ovariectomy on Tuesday

John Gibson has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help care for his father Stephen McCrae-Gibson, who suffered a stroke in February and had to undergo surgery to remove a blood clot near his brain. (Contributed)
Long road ahead for Salmon Arm man recovering after stroke

Son launches GoFundMe campaign to help prepare for father’s return and rehabilitation

Most Read