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October 27, 2017 5:46 pm

Q & A with Candidates – Part Three

Monday, May 1, 2017 @ 5:59 AM

250News sent  a series of 8 questions to each of the candidates running in the two Prince George ridings.The questions were  emailed to the candidates on April 13th, with  instructions that responses were to be received  by a deadline  of 1 p.m.  on Friday April 21st.

Candidates were asked that if their responses  included a funding component, that the source of that funding be identified.

Prince George – Valemount  candidate  Nan Kendy (Green) missed the deadline for responses.

250News published the first  segment of this series on Monday, April 24th ( click here )  and Part Two  ran on Thursday April 27th (click here).  All questions  and responses are being published in their entirety.

Question #5

What is your plan to improve access to health care for Northern B.C. residents?

Prince George- Valemount:

Liberal Candidate Shirley Bond:

It is important that we continue to invest in Northern Health care. We have announced a major capital project expansion for the University Hospital of Northern BC that will include surgical services including operating rooms, an adolescent psychiatric unit, substance-use services, adult and intensive psychiatric intensive care units and a youth treatment centre. Northern Health will continue to work to inform how cardiac care will be incorporated into the concept plan.
This investment will build on our previous investments in the Cancer Centre, Northern Medical Program and growing UHNBC as a teaching hospital. At the same time we recognize that training health care professionals closer to home is a critical factor in improved access. We intend to increase the number of graduating doctors to 400 by 2025, making sure that the majority are placed in the distributed medical programs including at UNBC.
We will train and place an additional 100 Nurse Practitioners across BC and identify retention programs to support health care providers who want to remain in rural and northern communities. As our population continues to age, we know that continued investment in healthcare will be an important priority.

NDP Candidate Natalie Fletcher:

New Democrats are the party of health care. We are proud to have been the ones who brought medicare to Canada, and we are the ones British Columbians trust to fix the problems left behind by Christy Clark.

I work in health care and I know first-hand the challenges facing health care in northern BC. I know that people wait too long for quality public health care. Our plan fixes that.

We will move our health care to a system with team-based care, setting up clinics a whole variety of health professionals under one roof; it’s an ask-once, get-help-now model. You will attend at a health clinic and see exactly the health care provider that meets  your particular need. It may be a doctor, but it could also some other health professional. This is better for patients and better for the bottom line.

And we’re going to deal with the surgical wait lists which have become some of the worst in Canada under Christy Clark. We think there are ways of addressing this through innovation. Dedicated clinics and effective investment in public clinics will get people off the waiting list – and will relieve the sometimes debilitating pain they face.

Last week, we heard one of Christy Clark’s candidates – an incumbent, no less – say she preferred privatized health care, and said that if people can afford it, they should have choice. Most of us don’t have that choice, and if we let people with the biggest bank balance jump the queue, it would result in even longer waits for the rest of us.

We will fund our improvements to the health care system with the $900 million the health care budget is projected to increase. As with all of our commitments, our budget is based on the budget the Liberals tabled in February.


Prince George-Mackenzie:

Green Candidate Hilary Crowley:

The Green Party will put much more emphasis on disease prevention, recognising that there will always be the need for more expensive acute care. However prevention of disease through environmental protection and non-toxic food is of high importance. We will train more allied health professionals and ease the burden of care away from Drs to enable other health professionals to share the load.

NDP Candidate Bobby Deepak:

When I’m on the doorstep, I’m hearing about health care. I hear that people can’t get access to primary care. Despite Christy Clark’s promise to get everyone a family doctor by 2015, there are 10, 000 people in Prince George who are seeking a family doctor.  People throughout BC are without access to that primary care. I hear that they can’t get surgery – BC has among the worst waits in Canada for key surgeries. I hear they can’t get diagnostics – patients who get an MRI appointment are getting memos saying “be sure and check the year of the appointment” because the appointment is sometimes two years down the road.  Locally, the wait list for surgery has grown from 1200 ten years ago to over 2500 and growing.

John Horgan’s plan will move our health care to a system with team-based care, so you could show up at a health clinic and get the kind of care you need. Sometimes that would mean seeing a doctor, but it could also mean seeing a nurse, a nurse practitioner, or any of a whole host of services. This would make health care more efficient and save money in the health system as well.

To reduce surgical waits, we’re going to take advantage of innovation, the kind of innovation that has actually been in effect in BC, but cancelled under the Liberals. A dedicated surgical clinic in Richmond reduced waits for hip and knee replacements by 75 per cent – from 20 months to five – but the Liberals eliminated it, for reasons only they know. We’d revisit that decision and expand it.

Meanwhile, 18 per cent of operating rooms in BC aren’t regularly staffed, and none have extended hours. We would maximize the use of public resources, unlike the Liberals who, to cover for their failure, they have sent thousands of surgeries to private clinics, and there is currently a proposal in front of the government to allow stays of up to three days in these private clinics. That is essentially opening the door to private, for-profit hospitals. I’m concerned that if the Christy Clark Liberals get back in, they will allow for that increased privatization of our health care system, despite study after study showing that US-style private health care costs more and gets worse results.

We will fund our improvements to the health care system with the $900 million the health care budget is projected to increase. As with all of our commitments, our budget is based on the budget the Liberals tabled in February. It’s time to end reactionary, piece-meal, inadequate solutions that Christy Clark has been presenting.

Liberal Candidate Mike Morris:

We’ve just recently announced a concept plan for the University Hospital of Northern BC (UHNBC) that will include cardio services, operating rooms and additional services for mental health and addictions. We are moving ahead very quickly on upgrading the power plant and renovating the second floor to provide for more acute care beds. This is just the first phase of several phases to increase capacity and modernize UHNBC. A new MRI unit is currently being installed and we recently announced a new sonography program at CNC –the only program offered outside of BCIT. Provincially, we are increasing the number of doctors graduating from BC ‘s medical program to 400 by 2025, adding 100 Nurse Practitioners across the province and will be training 500 Nurses a year by 2022. We will be creating additional spaces for in-demand professions such as physiotherapists and speech therapists.

Question #6:

What do you propose should be done to help seniors age in place?

Prince George- Valemount

Liberal Candidate Shirley Bond:

Most seniors want the opportunity to live independently or stay in their homes as long as possible. It is important that we provide a range of options to seniors and their families.

Our focus has been on increasing residential-care beds, assisted-living beds and investing $2.9 billion dollars in home and community care in 2015–2017. We have also increased the number of clients receiving home health services by 36% since 2001. That focus will continue, and moving forward we will also double the Home Renovation Tax Credit to $20,000 to make home improvements to accommodate seniors or family members with disabilities. We are also going to introduce a Respite Tax Credit for people caring for seniors or family members with disabilities. We will invest $500 million to ensure minimum hours of care for seniors in residential care facilities. To encourage seniors to lead active, healthy lifestyles we are introducing an Active Seniors Tax Credit. We will also use all the funds provided by the federal government in the recent BC-Canada health agreement for incremental home care and mental health supports.

NDP Candidate  Natalie Fletcher:

Seniors want to stay at home. And we want them to stay at home, as opposed to going into residential care facilities, primarily because they are healthier and happier at home.

But under the Clark Liberals, seniors have been left behind. Home care, which helps seniors stay comfortably in their own homes, is limited. Currently, the minimum visit is 15 minutes, which is too short to do almost everything seniors need. I’ve heard stories of seniors who, because they’re isolated, ask their care giver to just sit and talk with them for the entire 15 minute visit, which means they’re not getting the care they need and deserve.

We’re going to fix this and make sure home care gets better funded. This has the added benefit of paying for itself, since the small investment in home care keeps seniors out of residential and long-term care, which costs considerably more money per person.


Prince George-Mackenzie:

Green Candidate Hilary Crowley:

We must improve Community Health Care and provide all the necessary supports to enable seniors to age in place. Communities will also be supported to provide recreation and sports programs for their seniors.

NDP Candidate Bobby Deepak:

Seniors have been poorly treated by the Liberal government. Thanks to their choices, nine of 10 residential care homes in BC don’t have the staff they need to meet minimum care guidelines (10 out 10 in our region). And for seniors who are living at home, the Clark plan has the minimum home care visit of 15 minutes. That’s not enough to prepare a meal or ensure the senior has their proper medications or any number of vital services home care workers provide to seniors.

We’d make sure seniors get better home support, because seniors prefer and it is better for seniors to stay in their homes, and it would save the health care system money, because home support is much more cost-effective than residential care homes.

Liberal Candidate Mike Morris:

Most of my family members who have aged have wanted to remain in their homes as long as possible. So do I. If re-elected, today’s BC Liberals will double the Home Renovation Tax Credit to $20,000.00 for improvements to accommodate family members with disabilities. We will also introduce a Respite Tax Credit of up to $2500.00 for people caring for seniors or family members with disabilities. This past March, government announced an increase of $500 million over the
next four years as part of BC’s action plan to Strengthen Home and Community care for seniors.  Part of this will include 1500 new health care staff, increase home support staff and increased home-health monitoring.


The final two questions in this series will be published on Thursday, May 4th.



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