Boundary-Similkameen candidates speak on health care issues

Candidates talk health care

NDP Roly Russell, Liberal Petra Veintimilla, Conservative Darryl Seres and Wexit candidate Arlyn Greig participated in an online forum. This is the first time all candidates have been present for a forum. 

SOHC president Ed Staples moderated the discussion which was held virtually on Zoom.

The group posed questions on access, mental health, addictions, hospital wait times and specific Princeton area health issues for the candidates. The two minute intros had all candidates introducing themselves and any comments on their healthcare initiatives. 

Greig, who was unendorsed from her party in early October, but remains on the ballot stated that she decided to run for MLA for many reasons, focusing on pushing against cost increases by the government.

“Perhaps instead of the norm, which has leadership of BC switching between the NDP and the liberals, voters will choose a new response this year and vote for change.”

Seres brought forward his focus on community based decision throughout his campaign and employment history. 

“Our party is committed to local solutions for healthcare and local decision making. Our party is the only that has placed community health care in our policy platform alongside a strong commitment to palliative care.”

Veintimilla spoke on her work in the community, provincial health forums and her understanding on the issues. 

“On the health care side of things, I've been part of a regional rural sustainable health care group for four or five years at least, putting our heads together...Working on local initiatives that have potential to spread out on a larger scale.”

Russell pushed on the improvements he wanted to see done in BC for health care and actions not yet done. 

“Tonight our focus is health care and health care is clearly one of those things where we have to do a better job of acknowledgedly the triple bottom line and recognizing the economic costs as well as the ecological and social costs of what we’re trying to do.” 

One of the questions asked candidates ‘What are you and your parties prepared to do to address the barrier to mental health and addictions services in rural BC communities?’

Veintimilla explained the Liberal focus on addressing addiction as a mental disorder and treating the causes directly.

“Some of the things specifically that we’ve said we’ll do is fund the hiring of a 100 more psychiatric social workers and nurses to support the expansion of integrated mobile crisis  response teams, fund action recovery,” she said. “We need to fund properly.”

Russell brought forward that overdose issues are a serious issue around the province, especially in Princeton and other areas in the riding. 

“I think we recognize that treatment is a key part of that...I think having that continuum of really more holistic care, which is going to require some systemic change to how we deliver care is essential for us to be able to do that.”

Greig said she’s lobbying for harm reduction in both provision of medication and treatment for mental health patients. 

“It has to bring their family and support workers into a team where they’re all working towards the same goal. We need to help stop being dependent and start being more independent.”

Seres said the importance is on funding the non-profits at the local level, working with the community providers to continue on current initiatives that are working. As well as senior citizens and visiting access form their families.

“We absolutely have to make the investments to ensure that we have treatment that is available right when these people who are addicted ask for it. Putting them on a waitlist for several months is not workable.”

The full debate can be found on the SOHC website. 

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