FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — B.C.’s Ministry of Health has responded to a group of BC mayors demanding action from the province on a healthcare system that is not keeping up with needs in their communities.
In response, the ministry described its recent additions to cancer care, ambulances, and medical transport aircraft for rural communities, according to a Twitter post from Rob Shaw, political correspondent for CHEK News.
It also noted that two dozen ambulances were converted from on-call to permanent staffing and added an additional 26 small on-call stations throughout the province.
“We look forward to talking with and working with rural and remote community leaders on ensuring improvements to services in their municipalities going forward,” the ministry said.
The group of B.C. mayors and other elected officials was formed recently to push for changes and solutions to the healthcare system. One of these solutions, advocated for by Fort St. John mayor Lori Ackerman, is an audit of the healthcare system as a whole.
Ackerman told Energeticcity.ca that there is one method available to local elected officials demanding change at higher levels of government in the realm of healthcare: withholding property taxes.
“Local governments only have one tool in their toolbox,” Fort St. John’s mayor explained. “We provide, through our property tax dollars at the regional district level…40 per cent of all capital funding.”
This is an action that could force the province’s hand, Ackerman explained.
The ministry confirmed that property taxes collected by regional districts fund some healthcare expenses, but did not address the threat of potentially losing that source of funding.
“Regional districts contribute to the cost of healthcare capital costs which has helped move forward long-needed projects with some of the largest investments in rural healthcare infrastructure,” the ministry said.