Retiring B.C. health minister, Terry Lake, contemplates his next chapter

published on April 7, 2017 by Pamela Fayerman in Vancouver Sun

Retiring B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake was interviewed at length when first appointed to the cabinet position four years ago and recently, the Kamloops MLA agreed to sit down for one last chat. He arrived at the Vancouver Sun and Province with a fitting book in his briefcase — Sixty: A Diary of My Sixty-First Year. Lake is turning 60 next month and now contemplating his next chapter. As he sat down, he said to his assistant:  “If I’m about to say something stupid, yell at me.” That prompts the first question for this condensed, edited interview. 

Q: Have you ever said anything stupid? I don’t recall any such missteps by you.

A: Well you have to be considerate. You’re part of a team and the way you feel isn’t the way others might feel. 

Q: Why aren’t you running for re-election?

A: There’s never just one reason. I’ve been in public life for the better part of 15 years, six years at the local level, eight at the provincial level. There comes a time when other people should step up and when your brain needs to do something different. I thrive on change, on learning new things and stretching my comfort zone. I feel like after eight years in provincial politics that I just know it’s the right thing at this stage of my life. 

Q: What advice would you give the next health minister?

A: You need to always think about the long game. Sometimes I’m too impatient, but the health care system doesn’t lend itself to quick changes. It’s very much like a great big ship and the health minister is like a tugboat pushing on one end of it to go in the direction it should go. It’s not a jet ski, you can’t make quick changes. Be patient, but tenacious and persistent. 

Q: What’s caused the most stress and sleep deprivation for you over the past four years?

A: I am a terrible sleeper anyway, I have trouble turning my mind off. I know that I should think about better ways to manage that but, like many people, I find no time to manage things that cause stress. I’m not very good at heeding my own advice. One example is when someone dies in a hospital that’s unexpected. I think about the terrible effect on families, and if there was something we might have been able to do. When the three-year-old died in Abbotsford hospital, that was extremely difficult. Because of my background in veterinary science, I know that health care is complicated. Health professionals are human beings, not robots.

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