JOHN HARDING PHOTO North Island candidate pose for a photo before the aqll-candidate meeting Monday night in Port Hardy. They are, from left to right, John Twigg (B.C. First Party), Sue Moen (Green Party), Claire Trevena (NDP) and Dallas Smith (B.C. Liberals).

North Island candidates talk about health care improvements

Check here later today for coverage of all-candidates meetings this week in Hardy and McNeill

(Editor’s note: for coverage of all-candidates meetings in both Port Hardy and Port McNeill this week, watch this website for stories and photos Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning)

The establishment of Urgent Family Care Centres on the North Island — open evenings and weekends — will reduce demand on local emergency wards and take pressure off nurses, says NDP candidate Claire Trevena.

The Gazette asked all of the candidates vying for the North Island seat in the Legislature in the May 9 provincial election this question: If elected, what specific changes/improvements/investments would your party make to health-care delivery in the North Island?

“We will be working with communities to establish Urgent Family Care Centres, which will bring together nurses, nurse practitioners, doctors, mental health workers, therapists and other health care providers,” said Trevena. “These Centres will be open evenings and weekends to ensure people have access to care. This should reduce the pressure on hospital nursing staff. Too often hospitals in Port McNeill, Port Hardy and Alert Bay have had to temporarily close their doors because of a lack of nurses. These Centres will expand the delivery of primary health care thereby reducing demands on our hospital emergency rooms.”

B.C. Liberal candidate Dallas Smith said his party’s platform makes a specific commitment to train and place more doctors and nurse practioners in rural communities.

“There is also an urgent need for more primary health-care resources in all communities north of Woss,” said Smith. “To help meet the demand, additional nurse practitioners will bring medical services closer to home for patients requiring specialized care, including seniors and the disabled.”

Green Party candidate Sue Moen said her party would “take a more proactive approach that will, in the long-term, mean less reliance on acute care, taking the strain off our healthcare system and improving quality of life province-wide. She also said the Green Party would invest $100 million “for the expansion of support for inter-professional (including paramedics, nurse practitioners, midwives, etc), integrated primary care ensuring rural and remote communities have easier access to more heath services.”

B.C. First Party candidate John Twigg took aim at the funding levels for health care on the Island.

“I am well aware that health and hospital funding has been too tight anywhere and everywhere that the Vancouver Island Health Authority has jurisdiction, and especially so in NDP-held ridings, which is unconscionable and unacceptable,” said Twigg. “We also need more and better home care to help people keep out of hospitals and institutions, we need more walk-in medical clinics, more training of nurse practitioners (e.g. LPNs) and incentives for medical doctors and registered nurses to locate in small and remote communities.”

• All of the North Island candidates were scheduled to participate in forums organized by the chambers of commerce in Port Hardy (Monday) and Port McNeill (Tuesday). The event in Port McNeill starts at 7 p.m. tonight (Tuesday) at The Gate House Theatre

Check www.northislandgazette.com for reports on those events.

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