BC NDP Leader John Horgan joined Penticton NDP candidate Toni Boot on Saturday to discuss issues with community members

Horgan stops in Penticton

Casey Richardson

BC NDP leader John Horgan stopped in Penticton and Oliver on Saturday, looking to pick up votes in recently Liberal ridings.  

He was joined by Penticton NDP candidate Toni Boot throughout the stops in town to speak on childcare, low income housing and the primary health care networks. Boot was excited to have Horgan join her to speak with locals on Penticton and area problems.

“This has been traditionally, at least for the last many years, BC Liberals territory, but things are changing and I think that with the handling of the BC NDP of the pandemic and John’s leadership in letting the experts like Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix, I think it showed that approach…. And British Columbians throughout the province responded to that,” Boot said. 

Horgan started off at the new childcare centre on Edmonton Avenue alongside local families in the Safety Village to hear stories of their child care struggles. Media were invited in small groups to attend, with social distancing and mask wearing in effect. 

Parents spoke on their lack of options and extensive waitlists to get into childcare centres. 

The NDP leader acknowledged there was need and he’s continually heard stories from families, pointing to the struggles that the COVID-19 pandemic has created in also making sure those centres are safe to attend. 

Boot added that the new recreational centre built in Summerland is also looking into adding additional rooms for childcare, levels where local governments can also help the problem.

“We need to get childcare in there,” Boot said. The $10-a-day child care centre remains a major part in the NDP’s platform, in which full delivery of the program is still being seen.

“When communities are growing like they are here in the South Okanagan...You’ve got to ask what else can we add to this,” Horgan added. “We need to make sure the services are there for them.”

The campaign then headed to Slackwater Brewing to meet with community members to discuss the low income housing and the primary care network.

“The model is to bring a whole host of primary caregivers to one location. And then patients don’t have to go shopping around town, you don’t go to your GP and get referred to someone else somewhere else,” Horgan said.  

“It’s a shift in the philosophy of people being attached to a family doctor,” Boot said. “One stop shopping and that’s really what it is. You have all of the services there and you're able to connect with all the different health care aspects.”

The focus is for patients to be able to see a mental health professional, dietitian or a physiotherapist in one place, instead of waiting on referrals and being sent to another. 

Horgan also heard from local resident Catherine Hunter, who’s been a part of The Rise, a supportive housing project in Penticton for low and middle-income families or individuals.

“Help is on the way, that’s the force that the government is supposed to be,” Horgan said in response.  

Horgan finished by speaking on struggles with housing for the homeless and ongoing social issues. He added that the challenge is that even with more low-income housing being built, there’s still an increase of homeless encampments. Less beds are available in shelters with COVID restrictions.  

“The problem looks worse I think than  it is. I’m not dismissing it, this is critically important,” Horgan said. 

The leader finished off by greeting visitors outside and headed down to Oliver. 

BC is now one week out from the provincial election.  

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