Nearly one million people in British Columbia are without a family doctor, and those in the Peace region are no exception.

As wait times for care skyrocket, clinics shut down, and doctors leave family practices, British Columbians need their government to invest in healthcare and provide them with timely access to quality primary care. 

In Fort St. John, we keep losing critical service providers to support our growing population. The reality that one in every five British Columbians don’t have a family doctor is completely unacceptable. 

We know that people in our communities want to be attached to a family doctor, but those who can’t find one are forced to rely on walk-in clinics or the emergency room.

We have no urgent and primary care centers in Fort St John, and the closest one is in Prince George.

With more people seeking out care at clinics of the hospital, it not only increases wait times but leaves people without access to preventative medicine and longitudinal care.

The doctor shortage crisis affects people in our community from all walks of life. We have been deeply hit by the loss of more and more healthcare providers.

The medical professionals we do have are overwhelmed, exhausted, and burnt out. The government needs to do more to support them. 

It is unacceptable that our healthcare workers are stretched so thin and that it is impacting the way they provide care, and this is happening in healthcare centres across the province.

At the Cariboo Memorial Hospital, a collective letter written by the understaffed and overwhelmed physicians and nurses cited how many positions remain vacant and called for “immediate actions to ensure a safe working environment and prevention of further harassment, bullying and intimidation of staff.”

At the Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, three ER nurses cited that one shift, they were responsible for looking after 40 patients.

At Kelowna General, there was one nurse on a shift responsible for 54 patients at the same time. And here, across the northeast, I have had many personal discussions with healthcare providers that are also stretched to the limits.

Doctors are closing their practices, and many more have indicated they will do so because they feel undervalued.

We need specialists, surgeries, more staff, and fundamentally we need to protect our healthcare workers.

They should not be scared to go to work, and patients should not be denied care because of capacity issues, long wait times, and insufficient resources.

The time is now for government to do things differently! 

Written by Dan Davies, MLA for Peace River North