Columns: Supporting health care

Improving health care options is important to all of us. People have specific health care needs.

Improving health care options is important to all of us. People have specific health care needs. That’s why I’m pleased to see that 15 new health care assistant spaces are being added to the Williams Lake campus of Thompson Rivers University to meet the demand for the delivery of health care in the community through a one-time investment of $150,000. The scheduled start date for the 15 additional spaces is in September 2016.

Furthermore, the Nurses’ Bargaining Association and the Health Employers’ Association of BC (HEABC) have reached a tentative five-year agreement consistent with the Province’s Economic Stability Mandate. Over the coming weeks, the Nurses’ Bargaining Association and HEABC will work toward ratifying this agreement with their respective members. Following ratification, the parties will continue to build on ongoing collaborative efforts to implement strategic improvements to the health care system that improve care for patients and better support staff, including nurses.

In addition, 12 support recovery beds and four adult withdrawal management beds are coming to the Thompson Cariboo region. These beds, for Interior Health, are part of a provincial plan to improve care outcomes for individuals living with substance use challenges.

Adult supports include Heretohelp.bc.ca, which provides information about managing mental illness and maintaining good mental health. A network of direct and contracted services for individuals suffering from substance use issues, available at toll-free 1 866 658-1221. The Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre provides confidential, non-judgmental, free emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including thoughts of suicide at toll-free 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433). The Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service provides resources, support and referral information for treatment and counsellors, at toll-free 1-800-663-1441. HealthLink BC offers 24-hour, confidential health information and advice. People can phone: 8-1-1, or visit www.healthlinkbc.ca.

Coralee Oakes is the MLA for Cariboo North and Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction.