Green Party candidate Marc Reinarz answers a question about disability among fellow candidates at the Independe Living Vernon forum Tuesday at People Place. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Disability issues dominate North Okanagan-Shuswap forum

Candidates grilled about accessibility to a range of support and services at Vernon forum

With disabilities on the rise, greater support is being sought for those struggling to afford and access equal opportunities as the rest of the population.

A packed crowd of nearly 50, a majority of which are living with some form of disability, gathered at People Place Tuesday night to question the North Okanagan-Shuswap federal election candidates.

Among the issues raised at the forum were accessibility, in a variety of forms, from housing and health care to handrails.

“It (disability) has gone up 16 per cent, that scares me,” said Lisa Briggs, with Independent Living Vernon, which hosted the forum.

Through her work, Briggs has worked with a wide array of clients—one of which was homeless, had no access to a doctor, and because of that, he ended up having two toes amputated.

“I run into people all the time who don’t have access to a doctor,” Briggs said. “I am so afraid for what I see out there.”

The doctor shortage, for all citizens, is a reality each of the candidates is dedicated to addressing.

“We need to ensure that every Canadian has a family doctor,” Green candidate Marc Reinarz said. He said he worries about how to look after those living remotely. “We can do more to make efficient use of nurse practitioners. We need more beds to reduce the wait times.”

Reducing red tape for skilled doctors wanting to immigrate to B.C., whether across national or provincial borders, is also needed, according to all of the candidates.

“We can retain those professionals quicker without them having to go through recertification processes,” People’s Party of Canada candidate Kyle Delfing said. He also promotes retaining GST in provinces so those funds can support health care.

Incumbent Conservative candidate Mel Arnold agrees equal opportunities are needed for doctors to practice in Canada: “We need to break down some of the barriers so that doctors can immigrate here. We compete at a global level for professionals within Canada.”

Making the licensing process a lot easier is a top priority for Liberal candidate Cindy Derkaz, who said affordability also includes universal Pharmacare.

“We (Liberals) pledge to make sure every Canadian has a doctor or access to a health care team by 2025,” Derkaz said.

As a registered nurse at Vernon Jubilee Hospital, NDP candidate Harwinder Sandhu is a big advocate of health and routinely witnesses the effects of the doctor shortage.

“I see it daily,” said Sandhu, adding that getting more youth into the field would be achieved with interest free student loans. The NDP also support universal Pharmacare, which Sandhu says would save the average person $500.

READ MORE: North Okanagan-Shuswap candidate garners standing ovation

A mother of three, Sandhu originally lived in Terrace but moved to Vernon after her husband died of cancer years ago.

Being a socialist NDP member, Sandhu says she and her party are always for social services. The NDP pledge to build 500,000 affordable quality homes over the next 10 years and a full review of income security programs.

“The income they are getting is just a joke let’s face it,” said Sandhu, who wants to see employment insurance work better.

Derkaz, who ran in the federal election four years ago and, “came in a close second,” said housing is also a priority for Liberals.

“Without housing, people aren’t able to get ahead and aren’t able to seek employment,” said Derkaz, pointing to the Liberal 2020 plan to have a Canada housing benefit that would allow people to stay in their homes.

Arnold says the Conservatives want to eliminate the carbon tax (which he said hurts everyone), reconstitute the public transit credit and create a person’s-with-disabilities savings plan for those who are working which would be matched by the government.

“The main part of our Conservative day platform is affordability and that’s affordability for everyone,” Arnold said.

Putting money back into Canadian’s pockets through supply and demand is what the PPC propose.

“We need to make the proper investments in Canadians without removing social services,” said Delfing, whose party would implement a tax exemption on the first $15,000 earned.

A basic livable income is essential for all Canadians, said Reinarz, whose party also supports Pharmacare, as well as providing passes for transit and access to dental care and safe shelter.

The next chance to check out the North Okanagan-Shuswap candidates takes place Tuesday, Oct. 8 at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre at 6:30 p.m., hosted by the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce.

READ MORE: Candidates forum scheduled for Vernon

READ MORE: Guns, climate change and more at Armstrong forum


@VernonNews
newsroom@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Lisa Briggs asks North Okanagan-Shuswap candidates about doctor and health care accessibility during the Independent Living Vernon forum Tuesday at People Place. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

North Okanagan-Shuswap Conservative Mel Arnold answers a questions about disability support while Liberal Cindy Derkaz makes notes during the Independent Living Vernon All Candidates Forum Tuesday at People Place. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Just Posted

Handwritten notes from ‘Sean’ not a scam or illegal

Notes appearing in mailboxes across Vernon and Shuswap a marketing ploy

Vernon-based Tolko shuts BC divisions for two weeks over holidays

Head office to close from Dec. 23-27; two weeks’ downtime runs Dec. 21-Jan. 6

SilverStar to open Nordic trails this weekend

25 km of groomed trails are ready to explore by cross-country skiers

Rolling memorial for Armstrong man

Friends to host special tribute for Jesse Haller Saturday

Vernon mom cherishes life-saving alert dog

Carrie Lemay, single mom and a diabetic, welcomed Freckles, an alert guide dog, into her life

Gym enthusiasts invited to get in gear for kids

Spin4Kids Saturday at GoodLife Fitness

BC Liquor Stores to move fully to paper bags by March

Vancouver Island to be the first to convert to paper bags in November

Salmon Arm businesses tipped off to Black Press advantage

Black Press Media hosts day of presentations for local business representatives

B.C. government working with RCMP to address $10 million in budget cuts

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth issues statement following report of RCMP cost-cutting

Port Moody mayor says stayed sex assault charge related to ‘awkward date’

Rob Vagramov said charge was related to a string of dates in 2015

UBC conference draws fire over speaker from Chinese tech company blacklisted in U.S.

The company that has been blacklisted by the U.S. over links to the repression of China’s Muslim minority

‘City that protects rapists’: Sexual assault survivor slams Kelowna mayor for defending RCMP

Heather Friesen spent the morning handing out flyers around city hall calling out the mayor

Disciplinary hearing date set for South Okanagan pharmacy

Hearing will take place on Dec. 4 in Vancouver

Salmon Arm Golf Club sold to consolidator GolfNorth Properties

Decision to sell unanimously approved by club’s board of directors

Most Read