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MLA’S CORNER: Health care crisis deepens

A closed ER means rural B.C. residents may have to travel 100s of kilometres

Over the past few months, we’ve seen the health care crisis in B.C. worsen, and it’s having profound impacts across B.C.

In the past two weeks, two people have tragically lost their lives as a result of this crisis. A woman in North Vancouver passed away in the emergency room (ER) after waiting two days for treatment. In the Interior, an Ashcroft woman passed away from cardiac arrest because her local ER was closed and there was no local ambulance available to get to her in time. I want to extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of these two individuals.

We know that B.C.’s health care crisis is not limited to these two hospitals. In fact, here in the Cariboo-Chilcotin, we’ve witnessed the crisis firsthand. The ER at 100 Mile District General Hospital was closed twice in June, and late in the afternoon on Friday, July 22 we were informed the ER would be on diversion overnight until the following Monday morning. Closures like this are getting more common and in rural B.C., a closed ER can mean people have to travel hundreds of additional kilometres to find care.

It’s simply unacceptable that this is the reality in our health care system. Health care workers are doing everything they can to keep the system functioning, but our hospitals are completely overwhelmed and understaffed.

When we look at how other provincial governments have responded, we’ve seen examples of the minister responsible being replaced. New Brunswick’s health minister was recently fired following a death in the ER. Will we see similar accountability here in B.C.?

We need action, and we need answers. Government has a responsibility to be honest with people, but the NDP continue to downplay the problems and avoid giving details.

People deserve to be confident they will have access to the medical care they need in an emergency. But for far too many British Columbians, that is not possible right now. People deserve better.

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