Falkland residents are demanding that the provincial government make health care a priority.
About 150 people attended a rally at the stampede grounds Wednesday demanding that two shelled-in floors be completed at Vernon Jubilee Hospital to address overcrowding and cancelled surgeries.
“We also want to see action on staffing because you can’t have one without the other,” said Kelli Rose, one of the event organizers.
“It’s about the health and safety of every resident of the North Okanagan.”
VJH is funded for 148 acute care beds but on average, there are 165 patients daily.
Those at the rally want their MLA, George Abbott, to get directly involved.
“It should be fairly clear that people on this end of his constituency are 100 per cent behind health care workers and our hospital,” said Rose.
Rene Talbot, Falkland director for the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District, isn’t impressed with Abbott’s actions to date.
“So far, Mr. Abbott is saying he’s not in support of it (two floors),” said Talbot.
“The government spends a lot of money in Victoria doing different things but they’re not putting anything into health care.”
There were 350 signatures on a petition as of Tuesday, but that surged during the rally.
“We filled up almost five sheets of the petition. That’s 75 names that had never signed before,” said Rose.
“People are really taking this issue seriously. People really care about health care.”
Among the groups that took part in the rally were the Falkland Community Association, the Falkland First Responders, Falkland Highway Rescue, the fire department, the Sunday Morners, the seniors association and the Falkland Historical Society.
A Purple Ribbon flag was raised and it could be passed on to other communities who show their support for VJH.
“Hopefully other communities will do the same thing and put pressure on Victoria,” said Talbot.
B.C. Nurses Union representatives weren’t surprised with the turnout in Falkland.
“We’ve heard from them that they’ve had enough with the situation at VJH,” said Christine Sorensen, regional chairperson.
“As small as Falkland is, they have a huge heart and I would hope the government will listen to the community.”