Corbin Kelley

Corbin Kelley

Foster reflects on a busy 12 months for constituency

MLA would like to see at least another operating room at VJH as well as an MRI machine

Eric Foster might have some competition.

The Vernon-Monashee MLA recently had a potential future politician job shadowing him. Grade 9 Clarence Fulton student Corbin Kelley loves politics therefore he spent a few days hanging out with Foster to get a feel for provincial politics.

He watched Foster take calls from the public, meet with residents to discuss concerns, arrange a press conference for a provincially-funded project, conduct media interviews and more.

He also overheard Foster fight for his constituents’ needs, something the MLA isn’t shy about, and his track record can prove it.

“It was a good year for us here,” said Foster, listing off provincial investments.

The main projects for the region included construction of the top two floors at Vernon Jubilee Hospital’s Polson Tower (which will open Jan. 31), paving along Highway 6 and Mabel Lake Road and low-income housing was created with the purchase of the downtown Journey Inn.

“We’re always trying to find more opportunities for housing,” said Foster, also noting renovation funds for the Ukrainian Village.

While an investment has already been made in health care, it remains a concern.

Foster would like to see at least another operating room at VJH as well as an MRI machine, which Vernon doesn’t have.

“Personnel is another thing, we don’t necessarily have the people to do it,” he said, noting that everybody in the province also wants more for their health care.

The March closure of a Vernon walk-in clinic is another concern, as they will see many of those patients end up in the emergency room.

Foster says the province has been working to create more doctors with increased medical student spots.

“The hope is students will go to school here and decide to stay to practice medicine.”

Overall, B.C.’s economic situation relies on its neighbour, who is not faring so well. But he is confident the downturn in the oil industry is going to turn around.

“When Alberta’s not doing well, Canada’s not doing well. It hurts our tourist industry, they are one of the largest groups that come here as tourists.”

But Foster says B.C. does provide opportunities and he is pleased to see construction taking shape and industries, such as Pinnacle, moving in.

“Those types of things we want to see more of that.”

Foster admits a challenge for government  is all MLAs have wants.

“We’re all lobbying for our areas. “I put all my chips on the table on those two floors on the hospital. It’s important that you lobby hard.”