B.C. Election: MLA candidates on health care

We put questions to Kamloops' MLA candidates on post-secondary, the economy and health care

British Columbians will go the polls May 9. We put a series of questions to the candidates from both of Kamloops’ electoral districts on everything from post-secondary education to health care and the economy.

Other topics: University fundingEconomy – PrioritiesPrivate money – Health care

WE ASKED:

The last walk-in clinic on the North Shore has closed its doors. Given that so many people have come to rely on walk-in clinics, do you think that the new primary-care clinics will meet the needs of the region?

Barb Nederpel (Kamloops-North) – BC NDP

As a former nurse who now works in respiratory therapy, Nederpel said she sees health care as a primary issue.

“With up to 30,000 in Kamloops who don’t have a family doctor, we needed commitments to primary care a decade ago, not just when Christy Clark is trying to shore up election time support,” she said.

If elected, the NDP will cancel Christy Clark’s billion dollar tax cut for the rich and invest in all areas of health care delivery.

Dan Hines (Kamloops-North) – BC Green Party

“We are in the midst of a change in how primary care is provided,” Hines said. “As Greens, we propose a further investment in population based health care and in the primary-care clinics that are starting to emerge.”

Hines sees the doctor shortage gripping Kamloops as a country-wide issue. Speaking specifically about B.C., he said that B.C.’s nurse practitioners are underutilized. By increasing the number of nurse practitioners in the province, Hines believes that will increase patient care while reducing relative health care costs.

Peter Kerek (Kamloops-North) – Communist Party of B.C.

B.C.’s governments have failed to produce enough medical practitioners to service British Columbians, says Kerek.

“They have failed to create enough medical schools. They have failed to make education affordable enough for the best students to make their way through university,” Kerek said. The practice of poaching doctors from poorer countries has simply not met our domestic needs.”

The Ministry of Health should eliminate the small-business model currently foisted upon all family doctors, says Kerek. He also believes that Canada has much to learn from Cuba, where medical students have all their needs taken care of while they receive world-class, free, medical training.

Peter Milobar (Kamloops-North) and Todd Stone (Kamloops-South) – BC Liberals

Both Liberal candidates believe that to meet the needs of the region, Kamloops needs to have first-class health care facilities.

Attracting more doctors to Kamloops will take a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Health, Interior Health, Doctors of B.C. and the Thompson Region Division of Family Practice, they said.

“It must be noted that this effort is a challenge in communities across Canada, and it is why our government has doubled the number of physician training spaces throughout B.C.,” Stone and Milobar responded.

Beat Klossner (Kamloops-South) – Communist Party of B.C.

Klosser called the new primary care clinics “band-aids” and just short-term solutions.

“What we experience here are the effects of decades of neglect, underfunding and privatization of our healthcare system,” he said.

According to Klossner, the solution lies with recognition of healthcare as a human right and a large investment in the system, funded 100 per cent by public money.

In order to pay for the system, Klossner said the party would raise the corporate tax rate to 2001 levels, creating $2.5 billion in revenue, allowing for the removal of MSP fees and including dental care and prescription coverage as well.

Nancy Bepple (Kamloops-South) – BC NDP

Bepple blames the BC Liberals and says that reliance on walk-in clinics was the result of their “profound failure” in ensuring that every B.C. resident has access to a family doctor.

“We know that approximately 1/3 of all Kamloops individuals and families do not have access to primary medical care, relying on overcrowded, overextended walk-in clinics with long line-ups each morning,” Bepple said.

Bepple said that the new primary care clinics are only going to meet the needs of the region if new resources are invested, and staff aren’t just moved from one facility to another.

Donovan Cavers (Kamloops-South) – BC Green Party

No response was provided.