NOTE: ArmchairMayor.ca will publish columns and/or letters from candidates in the provincial election until the writ is dropped. Nancy Bepple is the NDP candidate in Kamloops-South Thompson.
A FEW WEEKS AGO, I joined a group of Kamloops residents waiting patiently for more than an hour in -29 degrees Celsius weather with wind chill, hoping to secure one of the few daily coveted spots at a local walk-in clinic.
All because they have no access to family doctors, a situation caused by 15 years of neglect by the Christy Clark government. This is one of the main reasons I’m running as the NDP candidate in Kamloops-South Thompson: to help solve a healthcare crisis that affects a disturbing number of families in Kamloops and the surrounding region.
Not having a family doctor means that the health of our families and friends is not being regularly monitored so as to allow for intervention before serious medical complications may arise. Through attending to patients on a regular basis, family physicians can not only ensure that residents remain healthy, but they also save the health care system untold resources by diagnosing many medical conditions before they become acute. For those who already face medical challenges, the absence of a family physician means relying on long line-ups – often in extremely cold conditions – to access already over-extended walk-in clinics.
The extent of the problem is a major concern to our community. Dr. Chip Bantock, a Kamloops-based physician and chairman of the Thompson Region Division of Family Practice, says that upwards of 30,000 people in the city do not have a family physician. This is completely unacceptable in a community of over 90,000.
The promised clinics, announced with such fanfare by the current Minister of Health, are scheduled to open in March, but — sadly — they are little more than window dressing. The government is merely moving clinical services from other locations in Kamloops to the new clinics. These services — respiratory therapy and outpatient mental health — already have high client loads and, therefore, will not provide any increased access to those in need. Additionally, the promised doctors at these new clinics are simply temporary locum placements cobbled together from others part of the province; no new, long-term doctors will be included.
We need a provincial government with a healthcare strategy that delivers appropriate levels of medical services to all citizens. Instead of hiring more doctors or committing adequate resources to increasing the number of primary care providers, the current government has chosen to give tax cuts to the wealthiest. We need a government that will cancel those tax cuts and invest in healthcare services to ensure they’re there when you and your family need them.
A John Horgan-led B.C. NDP government will ensure quality health care is there when you need it by helping more people get a family doctor.
Nancy Bepple is the NDP candidate in Kamloops-South Thompson riding in the upcoming B.C. provincial election.