Healthcare was a topic that came up several times during a town hall meeting hosted by the BC United party, with local MLAs saying they want to “take a chainsaw” to provincial health regulations.
About 80 attendees were at the town hall meeting, hosted by Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone and Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar, who took questions from community members on a range of issues.
BC United Leader Kevin Falcon was slated to join the two MLAs, but was unable to make the event.
Stone told Castanet Kamloops thousands of health-care professionals are caught up in “red tape,” restricting their employment in British Columbia.
“Whether they’re doctors or nurses, nurse practitioners, diagnostic technicians — and all kind of other professional that for one reason or the other are caught ip in a bureaucratic system,” Stone said.
“We need to take a chainsaw to all that regulation, and actually make sure that the people that are trained in places like the United States, and the United Kingdom, and Ireland and Australia, that happen to be in British Columbia now, want to live here and raise a family here and practice here, that they’re able to do so and that they’re able to do so in a timely fashion.”
During the town hall, some members of the community used the mic to tell the MLAs about problems they've had finding a doctor in Kamloops — a situation Stone called “unacceptable”
“It’s a sad indictment when you have seniors in their eighties who say they literally can’t access primary care,” he said.
“I’m excited about the health-care plan that we’ll be rolling out soon that will speak to the challenges in healthcare, and specifically in primary care.”
Milobar told the crowd during the town hall that he and Stone have been advocating for more than a year for unvaccinatedhealth-care professionals be allowed back into B.C.'s hospitals.
“When everyone else in the economy is back to work, when healthcare workers across the country are back to work, to be the lone silo doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Milobar said.
Stone told the crowd diagnostic departments at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops have been operating at 50 per cent capacity.
“In the Lower Mainland, there’s a higher support, still not a majority, but there’s higher level of support for not allowing unvaccinated healthcare workers back in the workplace,” Stone said.
“I think the sensibility up here is a little it different than the [Lower] Mainland on this piece, in part because we have such a dire healthcare crisis.”
Milobar was critical of the current NDP government, saying there seems to be a lot of spending without any deliverables.
“I think really at its core, what we're hearing from people is that there's some frustrations on a wide range of issues, and they recognize that a lot of things don't necessarily quick or easy fixes, but they want to know that there's a way forward to try to make things better,” he said.
“Healthcare is a huge concern and a lack of doctors a lack of easy access for things even as simple as prescription refills and things of that nature, we're always weighing on people's minds.”
Stone said both he and Milobar left the forum with a “deeper sense” of the community’s sensibilities around the issues discussed.
Casey Vandongen, an attendee of the town hall, said he thinks it’s important for elected officials to hear from everyday residents.
“I think it's good to have have a public town hall meeting like this every once in a while, and there was some good points brought up that caused me to think,” he said.
“It's important that the the politicians hear from regular everyday folks who are in the trenches fighting the battle, that’s for sure.”
BC United announced Tuesday that both Stone and Milobar will run in Kamloops-North Thompson and Kamloops Centre respectively next time voters go to the polls. The next provincial election is scheduled to take place Oct. 19, 2024.