Everyone can agree on a new hospital

Cowichan Valley candidates talk health care

Creating healthy communities where people are able to be active, eat locally produced food and get quality care when they need it is something NDP candidate Lori Iannidinardo believes strongly in.

“That is why I have worked for years to support our Valley’s farmers and fishermen, to protect our waterways and to call for housing developments that include affordable, walkable, livable spaces,” she said.

When prevention isn’t enough, she said it’s essential that our healthcare system is sufficient to meet the need.

“That’s why I support the building of a new Cowichan District Hospital,” she said.

Reducing patient wait times, helping people find family doctors, and bolstering seniors care are on her priority list.

“John Horgan is talking about supporting primary health care delivered by multi-disciplinary teams, an expansion of home support to allow seniors to safely stay at home and innovative solutions to surgical waitlists,” she said.

All social programs — especially health care, depend on an increased tax base — which comes from a strong economy and more people working, said Liberal candidate Steve Housser.

“B.C. is spending a record amount on health care. For 2017/18 it will be nearly $19-billion dollars — double what it was in 2000/01. This includes seven new hospitals, 10 hospital additions and 11 new hospital towers,” he said.

“Are there challenges to health care? Of course. That’s why B.C. invested $25-million last year and another $25-million this year to reduce wait times for surgery and MRI scans.”

Housser said the government has announced an additional $500-million for seniors care and the government is moving toward eliminating MSP premiums with no corresponding increase in taxes. “Overall, British Columbians are healthier than ever,” he said, adding they have the highest life expectancy in North America and the lowest heart attack rate in Canada.

“It’s time we make the well being and health of people our top priority,” Green Party candidate Sonia Furstenau said.

She believes publicly funded health care is key to achieving this goal and that learning to be healthy, and creating healthy communities, is as important a piece in health care programs as timely access to hospitals and doctors.

“Green policies start by promoting health and well being through improved access to healthy food, education, income, housing, exercise, and recreation,” she said. “Greens will work to create an integrated approach to community-based public health care.”

Included in that would be outreach and education, anti-poverty strategies, prevention, support for mental health, treatment of addiction, and supporting multi-disciplinary care, she said.

A new Cowichan Valley hospital is a priority for her, as is hospice care and additional non-profit seniors’ residences, which will provide options that will allow people choice as they age.

Agreeing it’s time for a new local hospital, Independent socialist candidate Eden Haythornthwaite also believes privatization has negatively affected the healthcare system and she wants the return of its control to the public, particularly as it relates to seniors and hospitals.

“Our government is accepting bids from private, for-profit companies for residential care beds and home care services,” she said. “It’s a nightmare.”

Contracts with multi-national companies for what should be in-house services like housekeeping and dining have resulted in a reduced level of service across the board, she said. It’s taking money away from communities and having a negative impact on patients and their families.

“They should bring these services back in-house. There was absolutely no reason to do any of that,” Haythornthwaite said. “The only reason is that it allows people to make money out of a desperate need. There is no other reason. It’s not like it wasn’t being done properly.”

Investing in prevention is what will turn the B.C. Healthcare system around said independent candidate Ian Morrison.

“Our medical system seems only focused on repairing us, after problems develop,” he said, adding it’s time to continue increasing taxes “on things bad for our health, while supporting products, activities and programs that are beneficial.”

“We can change our fitness as a community and as individuals by making healthier decisions today,” he noted.

Morrison supports a new Cowichan hospital and investment in new seniors’ homes for our smaller communities.

“Island Health needs to improve home support and care services and dramatically reduce surgery wait times,” he added.

Morrison also believes that reducing medical costs and encouraging good health can be started through nutrition education, access to healthy foods and teaching our young people to prepare and cook meals in school.

“These are basic, good ideas we can put into action now,” he said.

Morrison on Environment

The goal of these stories is to provide each candidate with equal space. In the last article in this series, on the topic of environment, Independent candidate Ian Morrison’s comments were inadvertently cut. Here are his comments in full:

“No one can dispute that our world’s climate is already changing,” he said. “Elders have taught us to look forward seven generations and to care for Mother Earth so that our children’s children can have a good life.”

“Mankind has left its scars on the landscape,” he said, “and we need to turn to the wisdom of our First Nations stewards and the best environmental scientists, for leadership in restoring our natural systems to functional health.”

The priority of forest managers should be to maximize carbon capture first, before shareholder profits and energy should be sourced from solar, wind, wave and tidal to provide our new supplies of electricity, he added.

“Reduction of non-renewable polluters like coal, oil, and natural gas is crucial,” he said. “The clean energy sector is growing and providing opportunities for good paying jobs for our youth seeking careers in skilled trades.”

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