Weekly Commentary  

Doctors up, temperatures down

Waiting lines for family doctors will get a little bit shorter with a recent federal investment.

I was honoured to be joined by a group of BC doctors, academics and provincial Minister Mary McNeil in Vancouver this week for the announcement.

It was a $5.9 million federal contribution to a program operated out of the UBC medical school. It will mean up to 40 more doctors being trained as family physicians with some of them going to work in rural areas of British Columbia where there is a chronic need for acute and family care.

More good news along those lines - were you aware that UBC's medical degree program will begin this September right here in the Okanagan? Congrats to the decision makers at UBC and to our local UBC board representatives for having the vision to see a medical school situated right here in the Valley. Paradise just got more heavenly.

Speaking of health care, Dr. Gerry Karr and his happy band of planners pulled off another successful Health Fair this weekend. I took the time to walk through and was impressed with the scope of health care providers and products available to us.

Though I had my leg cast removed a couple of days before the fair a number of people were offering me everything from physiotherapy to natural health products to accelerate my recovery. I am a fan of both (physio and NHP's) however respectfully declined all offers as I am already in a rehabilitation program (for my leg that is).

However, the positive vibes at the fair were almost good enough as I definitely felt much better just for having been there. Try it next year if you missed this one. It may work for you too.

Want to see a cool restoration of a beautiful heritage building? Check out the Shatford Centre. I was there this week to let them know that the funds they were hoping for to complete their ambitious overhaul of this wonderful building have been approved and the cheque is in the mail. More than just an arts venue, this centre will be a training school, helping people with artistic abilities learn to develop their craft, along with the entrepreneurial skills to survive in a tough market.

The people running the program obviously are very open to whom they will allow in. They let me jam on the drums with a bluesy sounding rag tag crew of wanna-bees, could-bees and already-bees. They took me in for a few fun moments. The programs at Shatford will be taking in a lot more people with real potential and will set them on their own pathways to success.

I was able to join Prime Minister Harper who was in BC this week with some key announcements. One had to do with a significant infrastructure project which will house the Canadian Forces new contingent of helicopters to replace the hardy but aging Sea Kings.

The PM also wanted to see for himself one of the ships which was used last year in a human trafficking operation bringing several hundred illegals into the country. He was visibly upset to see what kind of life threatening conditions and coercion many people (including children) had been subjected to.

It underlined the fact that the legislation we have introduced to deter this type of activity is clearly necessary. I have to admit I still do not comprehend why the opposition parties are opposed to this. It would protect the integrity of our immigration system and prevent these smugglers from even beginning their predatory voyages in the first place.

Along these lines I continue to get calls from constituents asking if our government is supporting a Liberal private member's Bill which would allow seniors who arrive here as immigrants to collect senior citizen pensions after only three years of living in Canada. The present limit is 10 years. I have been clear on this in the past and our position will not change.

We are opposed to this Bill.

Some local young people engaged in a noble project of surveying people to see what types of individual measures are being taken to enhance the environment. First, I commend anyone, especially our youth, who get involved in important matters of civic life.

Secondly, I hope they are giving credit to every taxpayer they talk to because it is the working people of our nation who contribute from every one of their paycheques to the billions of dollars the government is investing in a vast array of environmental programs.

For an exhaustive list of environmental initiatives, check out Environment Canada's or NRCan's websites. I can tell you that as I go door to door throughout our riding I get to see firsthand the significant steps taken by so many people in their own homes.

Sometimes it is just a matter of planning. After selling our condo and building a house a few years ago we were able to install a high efficiency furnace and water tank which requires no venting through the roof. Along with the installation of the latest in pellet burning stoves to reduce overall heating costs it all adds up to a highly efficient, low emission home.

I do however sympathize with many people I talk to who get confused with the varying claims out there regarding what is or is not more or less injurious to the environment.

One gentleman had made a sizable investment into the bottled water industry after carefully reading all the dire threats about tap water. Now he is finding business is difficult due to a shift by environmentalists and health advocates who claim it is healthier to drink from our taps.

The latest conundrum for us as lay people is the scientific study recently done by one of the UK's own environmental agencies. It makes a fact backed claim that the use of plastic bags has less of an impact on the environment than either paper or cloth bags. When so many citizens are willing to take steps to protect the environment we need to make sure all claims are solidly proven by the scientific method.

On that note, just last week I announced funding to a plant in Merritt which manufactures low emission wood pellets. Jobs for the Nicola Valley, recycling for the forest industry and less emissions into the environment.

I also caught the final game of the season of Merritt's talented Centennials. Three of our riding's junior teams are in the first round of the playoffs. As a way to warm up on these record breaking low temperature evenings I can heartily recommend taking in one or more of these games if you haven't lately.

So you may be wondering which team I cheer for without losing votes as the Member of Parliament for the area.

All I'll say is "Go Vees go! Go Warriors go! Go Cents go!”

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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