KAMLOOPS — One of the biggest issues on the campaign trail this election is that of healthcare.
B.C. is facing a significant doctor shortage, which has prevented many citizens from accessing the medical services they need when they need them.
The problem has reached a critical point in recent years.
Kamloops-South Thompson NDP candidate Nancy Bepple calls the doctor shortage "abysmal".
Bepple has made a point of visiting Kamloops walk-in clinics since the middle of winter, and says people will wait in the cold for up to two hours to see a doctor.
"The NDP is committed to building an urgent care centre model where people have the opportunity to have access to primary care," Bepple said, "it's not always a doctor that you need to see. Sometimes you can see a nurse practitioner, or someone else."
The Liberals say they have already gotten the ball rolling in Kamloops, opening two primary care centres on the North Shore, building the Clinical Services Building at RIH, and committing to the construction of the $417 million patient care tower.
"I'm really confident that not years from now, but months from now we're not going to be talking about a doctor shortage, or primary care shortage in Kamloops," said Kamloops-South Thompson Liberal candidate Todd Stone, "because all of these initiatives are beginning to take hold and I think Kamloopsians will be able to access the care that they need when they need it."
However, Kamloops-South Thompson Communist Party candidate Beat Klossner says the new hospital tower will make little difference.
"It's going to be a white elephant," Klossner said, "because we don't have enough nurses and doctors ... so it's not going to change anything in the line ups, the E.R. line ups are going to be just as long, your surgery waits are going to be just as long as before."
Kamloops-North Thompson Green Party Candidate Dan Hines believes the new clinics on the North Shore, and their multidisciplinary teams, will bring some relief to the doctor shortage issue.
"I think that's a key part of it," Hines said. "It's going to be physicians working together in teams with nurse practitioners and physiotherapists, and mental health workers, and diabetes clinics, and having those accessible in the community itself."
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