“If you don’t have quality public services like health care and education in your community, it’s actually in the long-term difficult to attract and keep people,” he argues. “Communities such as Dawson Creek and FortSt. John want people to come here, work here, and retire here, and stay here. Without addressing some of these health care issues, that becomes more difficult.”
One of the main concerns he has is the number of seniors that should be in long-term beds, but instead are stuck in hospital. He notes it is a province-wide problem, but the insufficient number of long-term care beds is particularly evident in Fort St. John and Dawson Creek.
“We often focus on building new hospitals – and that’s a good thing – but in fact the way to address it is to ensure that patrons have a place to go, to be discharged to, and part of the problem in Fort St. John and Dawson Creek is a lack of long-term care beds, and a lack of home support, which means that people often need to be left in the hospital too long.”
Dix argues the solution is to invest more in long-term care and home support, adding that it’s also the most cost-efficient option to improving health care. He also maintains that with the resource industry boom in B.C.’s north, the need for skilled workers in health care is intrinsically connected.
“When you have a growing number of people working in the region, you have to have a healthcare system that responds to that and part of that is ensuring that we have adequate seniors care, and we’re not using our acute care for something that it wasn’t designed for.”
In order to be ready, Dix argues the push to train workers needs to start now and in all positions from doctors and nurses, and those in health sciences like technicians, to rehabilitation therapists.
“Often these jobs require a significant amount of training over time, so you can’t deal with problems four years from now four years from now; you have to deal with them today.”