North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney wants answers.
Blaney noted in a news release that last Friday (Oct. 21), during the House of Commons question period, she took the federal government to task over the lack of emergency health-care services in North Island communities.
“Hospital emergency rooms in Port Hardy, Alert Bay and Port McNeill have been closing, repeatedly for the past few months, because there isn’t enough staff to keep them open,” Blaney stated.
She added that since August, Island Health has been announcing closures of emergency departments in North Island due to limited staffing availability, primarily nursing coverage.
Blaney said that according to the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), 45 per cent of nurses have been clinically diagnosed with burnout and there is no plan in place to stabilize the workforce.
“Residents of North Island are extremely concerned that emergency rooms are not there when they need them.”
As for what has been causing the health-care issues over the years, Blaney noted she believes decades of cuts to federal health-care transfers by Liberal and Conservative governments, exasperated by the COVID-19 pandemic, have undermined our health-care system’s ability to keep emergency rooms open and fully staffed.
She added that $31 billion has been taken out of Canadians’ health care over 10 years, and the federal share of health-care spending in Canada has plummeted from the original 50 per cent to 22 per cent.
“Will this government provide significant and stable long-term funding for health care and address this crisis?” Blaney wondered.
As for what the NDP (Blaney’s party) has been doing to rectify the issue, she said that in addition to calling for an increase to federal health-care transfers, New Democrats have advocated for the federal government to address Canada’s ongoing health-care system issues, such as staffing shortages and emergency room closures in hospitals, by reducing red tape for internationally trained health-care workers to become qualified in Canada, and hiring at least 50,000 long-term care workers.
“The Liberals must show leadership on the health-care crisis – and we expect them to do so. We will keep up the pressure until they act,” Blaney concluded.
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– Gazette staff