Ashcroft hospital emergency closed sign, 2016. Photo credit: Barbara Roden

Victoria Report: Solutions are needed now

Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart says our health care system is overwhelmed and understaffed

By Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart

Our overwhelmed and understaffed health care system is causing tragic consequences for many British Columbians facing long waits for care.

Sadly, the worst-case scenario played out in our community of Ashcroft recently, when a senior died of cardiac arrest with the emergency room closed and no local ambulance available. My heart goes out to the family and friends who lost their loved one in this tragic way, as well as those on the scene who did everything they could to try to help.

Not only is this incident incredibly heartbreaking, it also makes me angry, because this community was promised 24/7 emergency care in the last election. The Premier and his government have not fulfilled their commitment, and patients continue to suffer.

Ashcroft is just one of many communities facing routine closures of its emergency room due to staffing shortages. On a recent weekend, six ERs around the province were temporarily closed, forcing patients and their families to travel significant distances to larger centres. The trouble is, even those hospitals are struggling to cover shifts. Our doctors, nurses, and other health care staff are overwhelmed.

The Official Opposition has long been calling for a health human resources plan, but the government still hasn’t come up with one. We have also suggested a 30-day action plan (view it at to address issues around primary care, because we know that the lack of access to family doctors causes additional pressures elsewhere in the system. We’ve called for improved compensation for overhead and operating costs; an updated and simplified fee schedule; and an audit to address the NDP’s Urgent and Primary Care Centres (UPCCs), which also remain understaffed.

It’s my hope the government will listen — and act quickly — so that everyone has access to timely, quality care no matter where they live in British Columbia.

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