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Local Hero Awards 2023: West Shore foundation providing health-care solutions

The Saunders Family Foundation is the 2023 Health Advocate Hero

The West Shore Local Hero Awards are back! You can find this year’s special feature in the March 22 edition of the Goldstream Gazette or online under e-editions. Stay tuned for more on each of this year’s honourees, you will be able to read their stories online at

The Saunders Family Foundation continues to help find health-care solutions for the West Shore and beyond.

The non-profit organization was established in 2010 because of the high demand for support from local individuals and community organizations, and health care is a main point of emphasis for the foundation.

“There are so many areas that our communities can help improve our public health-care system, and we can’t wait for others to solve the problem when our family doctors, nurses and emergency personnel need our support now,” said Dave Saunders, president of the Saunders Family Foundation. “We need sound solutions now to show our real support of these incredible individuals. Our Saunders Family Foundation has been advocating for more health care.”

A workshop was held by the foundation and Thrive Victoria at the Olympic View Golf Club in Colwood on Jan. 26 to discuss some of these issues. Speakers at the all-hands-on-deck community health-care workshop highlighted the lack of primary care doctors and long-term care beds on the West Shore.

“I hosted the meeting to inform everyone about how we can all work together to formulate solutions for our health-care industry,” Saunders said. “There was a lot of interest from professionals and people who can make a real difference.

Saunders, Scott Bradford, executive director of Thrive, and Mark Holland of Westplan Consulting Group worked together with the help of B.C.’s health ministry to put together a playbook to attract and retain medical professionals. Discussions from the workshop have been instrumental in creating the pilot project attraction and retention playbook.

“We sat down as a group and talked about how can we bring forward some projects and embed those projects in an official community plan to help recruit, support and retain family doctors, nurses and emergency health-care workers,” Saunders said. “We brought forward a bunch of solutions.”

Proposed solutions and more information can be viewed at

“I believe we can all make a positive difference,” Saunders said. “From a municipal standpoint, we need to stop pointing fingers at upper-level governments when there is so much we can do locally. That is not to say we should let those responsible for funding and administration of health care off the hook. I am saying that since the inception of public health care, it has not evolved to the degree necessary to reflect the needed change of both our population and supports for our public system.”

Saunders met with Colwood Mayor Doug Kobayashi and Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins on March 11.

“They are very interested in how our policies can reflect into their official community plans and how we can create a policy that gets some clinic space built free of charge,” Saunders said. “It was an awesome meeting.”

The foundation has decided not to fundraise for the last three years due to COVID-19 concerns and because most businesses and community members that offer support are struggling during these hard times.

“We’ve rolled everything back, but we’re capitalizing on our connections,” Saunders said. “We’re still supporting those most in need in our community right now. We can’t take on anything more at this time because it is full-time work without getting paid. We give back when we can because that’s what we feel the community is all about.”

READ MORE: 2023 Local Hero Awards


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Brendan Mayer

About the Author: Brendan Mayer

I spent my upbringing in Saskatoon, and in 2021, I made the move to Vancouver Island.
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