by Susan Swan
The Clinton Economic Development Society hosted an all-candidates forum for the four federal candidates running in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo on Sept. 15.
The Clinton Memorial Hall was filled with area residents, some from as far away as 100 Mile House, who were anxious to hear what these candidates had to say.
Each of the candidates was given the opportunity to introduce themselves and then answer a question on health care that they had been sent prior to the event. A deck of cards was cut to determine the order they went in.
Liberal candidate Steve Powrie explained that he has been an educator for a number of years in the City of Kamloops. He advised that since 2014 there has been no unilateral agreement between the provinces and the Federal Government. The Liberals, he said would increase funding for health care and for training. The provinces and territories would have direct say over where the funding would be used (eg. rural health care).
Cathy McLeod, Conservative MP since 2008, explained that she has a nursing background. She said the province is responsible for health care. Transfers are made from the Federal Government to the Provinces. Under the Conservatives, Health Care funding has increased by six per cent per year. She advised that the Conservatives would work with Canadians who had trained abroad to make it easier for them to return and practice in Canada. They are looking at student loan forgiveness for doctors and nurses who go to rural areas. Nurse practitioners would also be given more responsibility.
Bill Sundhu, NDP candidate is a lawyer and former provincial court judge who was raised in Williams Lake and now lives in Kamloops. He reminded the audience that it was the NDP who originally brought in health care. He advised that the NDP will put $36 billion into health care over a 10 year period, and $300 million of that will be used to build clinics and hire more doctors and nurses. The priority is to ensure that everyone who wants a doctor has one and to bring in pharmacare so people can get the medications that they need.
Matt Greenwood is the Green Party candidate and is an employee with the ASK Wellness Society. He corrected what McLeod had said by explaining that the Conservatives had put six per cent per year into Health Care until 2014. It then changed to an increase to GDP to a maximum of three per cent. “As costs continue to grow,” he asked, “how will the provinces continue to cope?” He advised that the Green Party has a 12-page policy on health care.
Written questions were gathered from the audience and sorted into common themes. Candidates then explained their Party’s response to such topics as environment, gun control, the refugee crisis, First Nation rights with regard to natural resources and how they would deal with the USA if Donald Trump were elected president. (Powrie’s answer of “Build a wall” garnered the most applause.)
Those attending were asked to fill in a poll ballot, which asked, “Which of the candidates do you think did the best job of answering questions tonight?” Not everyone took the time to do so but 78 per cent did. Bill Sundhu won on 69 per cent of the ballots, 13 per cent were for Cathy McLeod, nine per cent went to Matt Greenwood and nine per cent to Steve Powrie.
Of course the only polls that really count are on Election Day, Oct. 19.