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Healthcare top of mind on Minister of Labour’s visit to Vernon

Harry Bains and Harwinder Sandhu were in town to chat to local labour leaders
Labour minister Harry Bains (left) meets with Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu and union representatives in Vernon Monday, April 15. (MLA assistant photo)

The Minister of Labour, Harry Bains, made a visit to Vernon on Monday, to chat with local labour leaders across the North Okanagan.

Bains was joined by Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu, as they primarily discussed issues in the health care field.

“It was a learning exercise as nurses came to talk to us about the challenges that they faced,” said Bains, who is the MLA for Surrey-Newton. “Some of the main concerns were the risks to their health and safety, and the pressures of all the extra work.”

The shortage of doctors and other health care professionals has been a conversation point among many communities across the province, as Sandhu and Premier David Eby fielded calls from North Okanagan residents in a telephone town hall last week, where health care was also top of mind.

“We are alive to the shortage, we are alive to the population growth, we are alive to the health care system and education system, we just have to make sure to find the professionals that we need and to provide the support that the workers need,” Bains said.

Asked about if there were any concrete conversations being made about reopening a walk-in clinic here in Vernon, or starting up a new one, Sandhu explained that the walk-in clinic is not a part of the government or health authority, as they are privately run.

“We do try to identify gaps that were left and that’s why we have added more shifts to the Urgent Primary Care Center (UPCC).”

The Sterling Centre walk-in clinic closed on Nov. 15 2023, leaving just the Vernon Jubilee Hospital and UPCC to deal with the barrage of individuals who need health care.

Bains added that UBC recently announced additional spaces into the health care fields for students pursuing degrees which will help to close the gap.

“To lessen the burden on health care is to add our pharmacists to provide certain medications and prescriptions,” he said. “I think the combination of those are already at work in the system. But, are we there yet? No, and the nurses need more help.

“Population growth has been unprecedented over the last four years and there are so many people on temporary Visas. We need them, but we also need infrastructure to make sure that they have health care, education, etc.”

Bains and Sandhu empathized their support for health care workers, adding that they “are our heroes.”

“They are under a tremendous amount of pressure every day because of all the extra demand and we are there to support them in every which way we can.”

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Bowen Assman

About the Author: Bowen Assman

I joined The Morning Star team in January 2023 as a reporter. Before that, I spent 10 months covering sports in Kelowna.
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