April 10, 2014
The B.C. Liberals’ failure to address rural health issues in Northern B.C. shows they aren’t prepared for the responsibility of growing local economies, say New Democrats.
“The B.C. Liberals talk a lot about liquefied natural gas and resource development, but not a lot about what it takes to actually support people in these resource development communities,” said northern and rural health critic Jennifer Rice. “The Liberals are standing by while people in the North lose access to health care services.”
“Accessing medical services in the North is already a challenge. Many communities are faced with severe doctor shortages, long wait times for medical specialists, and inadequate mental health programs, yet the B.C. Liberal government has failed to address the uneven playing field when it comes to what’s available in the North versus the Lower Mainland.”
Despite the demand for medical services, the Fort St. John Medical Clinic recently announced it has to close its walk-in clinic because of a severe doctor shortage in the community. As of May 1, the clinic will only offer services to patients who have a family doctor working there. People requiring medical treatment without a family doctor will no longer be accepted and could instead be forced to go to the hospital emergency room.
Rice noted that the government’s failure to invest in health services in northern communities is not in line with their plans for economic development.
“If the Premier plans to invest in liquefied natural gas to the extent she claims, she had better start investing in growing our communities and ensuring services are available. No one is going to want to work in a community where their family can’t even get a doctor.”