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MLA’S CORNER: Rural B.C. must be more than an afterthought

We deserve to be equally represented by government
Lorne Doerkson is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin. (Black Press Media file photos)

I am incredibly passionate about rural B.C. It’s home to kind, hard-working people, it’s a wonderful place to live and raise a family, and it deserves the same amount of attention and care as urban areas of our province. Unfortunately, more than ever I have been feeling like rural B.C. is nothing more than an afterthought for government, and it is having real consequences for everyday people.

Last week, I highlighted the recent announcement of the closure of Canfor’s pulp line in Prince George, which will impact 300 workers and families. However, since then, we’ve learned that two more mills will be closing in Houston and Chetwynd, putting nearly 500 people out of work and profoundly impacting the surrounding communities. As a resident of a forestry-dependent community, these closures hit incredibly close to home. How many people need to lose their jobs before government gets serious about supporting the forestry sector?

Rural B.C. has also had more than its fair share of experience with the ongoing health care crisis. We’ve seen long wait times, ER closures, and ambulance shortages across the province for years now, and yet little seems to have been done to truly address the significant problems. Recently, Health Minister Adrian Dix announced funding to support hospitals in northern Vancouver Island that have been experiencing staffing shortages and closures much like we have seen in the Interior and the North.

It’s great to see government starting to clue into the dire state of health care, but where is the support for the rest of rural B.C.? The $30 million in funding the NDP announced last week is entirely for Vancouver Island, with no mention of support for other areas of the province.

No matter where you live in B.C., you deserve to be equally represented by your government — I can only hope the NDP begin to realize this before it’s too late.

READ MORE: MLA’S CORNER: NDP needs a clear vision for future of forestry

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