Saturday, February 14, 2015

North Coast MLA outlines rural health concerns in first week of Legislature session

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice
at the Legislature on Thursday
For the most part it was a fairly soft start for the Spring session of the British Columbia Legislature, Tuesday providing for the speech from the Throne that put forward the Liberal Government's agenda for the next few months and a couple of mid week sessions in the chamber to ease everyone back into the work schedule.

During the Thursday afternoon session, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice offered up a few questions related to health care issues in the Northeast portion of the province, making a number of inquiries to Health Minister Terry Lake when it comes to health care in the rural reaches of the province.

Participating in the discussion through her role as Rural Health Care critic, her particular focus was on the lack of family physicians and other related health issues in the Fort St. John area.

For people in Fort St. John, it's even harder to find a family doctor. Last year seven doctors announced they would close their family practices. There were already 18,000 people without family doctors. Now there are 24,000 without. The government has told people in Fort St. John that their region is important, but they have done nothing to ensure important services are there. Like everyone else in this province, people in Fort St. John are paying for this government's hikes in medical services tax, and they're getting less. Why is this government ignoring the crisis care being faced by the people of Fort St. John?

The Health Minister deflected some of her commentary by admitting that there are challenges in delivering health care in rural areas, particularly in the Northeast region at this time, but added that strides are being made towards the issues.

As a follow up, she called attention to a localized issue in the Fort St. John region, seeking a quicker solution to some of the problem areas of health care in that part of the province.

I'd like to remind the minister that the fancy, expensive hospital he speaks about in Fort St. John is filled with seniors that should be in a long-term care facility, not a hospital. Lee Taylor lives in Fort St. John. He is a senior with COPD, emphysema and lung cancer. He is on oxygen, and he has no doctor. It takes Lee five to six weeks to even get into a clinic just for a simple medication change. If he wants to see one sooner, he has to call an ambulance. Does the minister agree that the situation in Fort St. John needs to be addressed now — and make sure people like Lee Taylor have a doctor?

You can review the full exchange from the Legislature Draft minutes here, as well the Legislature Video Archive provides a record of the discussion between Ms. Rice and Mr. Lake.

That video presentation can also be found as part of the Question Period video listings and starts at the 13:30 mark of the video marker.

For more items related to the work of the North Coast MLA at the Legislature see our MLA's week page here.

You can find more items related to developments at the British Columbia Legislature from our Legislature Archive page.

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