Opinion: Caring for our communtiy

Healthcare has long been an area of keen interest for me. My mother was a nurse and as a youth I spent many hours visiting long-term care facilities to brighten the days of residents through music.

As an adult, I experienced the positive impact of Hospice, not only for patients, but for their families too when my parents needed care. That experience motivated me to get involved and I now chair two hospice societies and a hospital foundation.

In hospice, it’s about compassion, and making a situation that affects all of us, the best it can be under the circumstances. It is also about making Advanced Care Plans, supporting the bereaved, and treating each individual with dignity.

Earlier this year I led our board in developing policy that respects the rights of Canadians under the new legislation around Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), and preserves the continuity of care that is essential to the best palliative hospice practice, where MAiD remains somewhat controversial. We found ourselves always returning to our mission to support individuals, irrespective of their decisions around MAiD.

In my role as chair of the Lady Minto Hospital Foundation, I work with our board and Island Health to support the local hospital and other healthcare initiatives. We are currently working on a study looking at the establishment of a primary care centre that would attract and retain doctors in our community.

Peninsula Medical is a local practice of this kind that received start-up funding through the provincial GP-for-Me program and recently opened with some repayable assistance from the Town of Sidney. This is an example of healthcare investment on the Saanich Peninsula, and the evolving approach to improving our already excellent healthcare system. This new centre works to address our local doctor shortage, by balancing the needs of doctors – which have changed significantly over the past 40 years – with the needs of patients.

This is an example of healthcare investment on the Saanich Peninsula, and the evolving approach to improving our already excellent healthcare system.

Thanks to our strong economy here in B.C., we are able to continue making investments and improving on healthcare delivery. With Balanced Budget 2017, we have a $4.2 billion increase to the Ministry of Health budget over three years. Within this there is $100m in additional funding for mental health and substance-use supports – particularly for youth. There is also a capital budget for new healthcare facilities of $2.7b, as well as an additional $500m to support seniors’ health through more home support staff and increased care hours at long-term care facilities.

These record investments are made at the same time as we introduce a billion dollar middle-class tax cut in the form of a 50% reduction to MSP premiums – saving families up to $900 a year – as the first step towards eliminating premiums altogether.

British Columbia is home to an excellent healthcare system, with outcomes among the best in the country. Yet we can always improve. Through my personal and professional engagement in healthcare, I have the knowledge and experience necessary to make our system stronger. And as your MLA, I will be committed to working with our community to do just that.

Stephen P. Roberts, BC Liberal Candidate for Saanich North and the Islands

(This is the seventh op/ed contributed by a local candidate in the May 9 provincial election. The PNR has offered space to each of the declared candidates.)