British Columbians are fortunate to live in a country that believes in public healthcare. When we look to other countries where access to healthcare is dependent on one’s income, you realize just how valuable our system is.
But it is a system under tremendous pressure. I believe that we need to ensure that our province raises the revenue it needs to keep our system strong. People tell me that public healthcare is one of things they most value, and they know that it costs money.
Provincial funding of healthcare increases every year as would be expected. In 2012/13, Interior Health’s funding increased by 5.6%. And in 2012/13, we still felt cuts to healthcare.
In 2014/15, the projected increase to funding for Interior Health will be only 2.3%. This indicates even more significant cuts to services are ahead.
Over the last number of years, the cuts to healthcare have been felt most deeply in rural areas. And many of the decisions made by Interior Health as to where to cut have not been informed by local knowledge or understanding.
As a politician, I understand that healthcare decisions need to be made by professionals, but there also needs to be full awareness of the realities of the impacts of those decisions, and there needs to be accountability to the communities affected.
We need healthcare in small rural communities not just for health reasons, but for economic reasons. For example, the closure of the dialysis unit in Invermere has resulted in real economic consequences for the area; something that was not even contemplated by decision-makers, and ignored when raised by local political representatives.
We need to stand together within our communities to make sure that those that need healthcare have access to it when they need it.
Take a moment to share your healthcare concerns with me by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1 866 870 4188.
Norm Macdonald is the MLA for the provincial riding of Columbia River—Revelstoke