It saddens me to see a local demonstrator spending hours in the hot sun, with his placards when he could be putting his energies to better use. I completely understand and share the concerns of Mr. Platz and others regarding the shortage of doctors here in Ashcroft but I strongly disagree with their tactics and the absence of accurate information.
I had the good fortune to attend the meeting that MLA Tegart organized last year with activists from Princeton. Their message was clear to me. Confrontational tactics did not work and were harmful to the community. They were able to achieve success with physician recruitment only when they started to work cooperatively and collaboratively with both the Ministry of Health and Interior Health. Through that work they were able to articulate a new vision of health care for their community and with that vision in place to attract doctors to practice in Princeton. I believe that we can do the same work here and that our Wellness and Health Action Coalition is well on its way to accomplishing this work.
Rural communities all across Canada are experiencing difficulty in attracting and keeping physicians. BC has shown leadership with several successful initiatives including; funding and incentive programs, providing opportunities for physicians to train in rural areas at the University of Northern BC and through the Southern Medical program in Kelowna, doubling the number of medical spaces between 2003 and 2011, and through partnering with Doctors of BC to help recruit physicians to rural communities. Between 2011 and 2015 the number of doctors working in rural communities in B.C. has grown from 2,260 to 2,441. This is evidence that things are getting better.
Our difficulty in keeping doctors is not new. It has been an issue during the entire 11 years that I have lived in this area. I believe that we need to work with our doctors and our government representatives to articulate a new vision for what health care can look like in our community. This might involve doing some things differently than we have in the past. This could include taking advantage of e medicine opportunities, using nurse practitioners, or other para-professionals.
I would encourage people to join and support the Wellness and Health Action Coalition and work with them to be part of a new vision for health care in Ashcroft and area. Let’s work together and be constructive, respectful and pro-active.