The beginning of the year provides such a great opportunity to refresh goals, reset priorities, and renew focus on what’s important.
As your MLA, I am excited to serve your priorities, and make sure that Kelowna’s voice is heard in the Legislative Assembly.
Your responses to these articles, as well as all of the communication I have had being home since November, has been so helpful in understanding where to focus.
Additionally, I am starting my second year as the Shadow Minister for Environment and Climate Change Strategy, and Gender Equality and Inclusion.
These critic roles serve as my second charge in how I focus my time and efforts and provide opportunity to understand and solidify how British Columbia moves forward in these specific areas.
I have written about what I am working on as a Shadow Minister, so I am going to focus today on how I am going to serve the priorities of Kelowna specifically in this coming year.
As I move into 2023, here are the issues I have heard about from you.
So many people in Kelowna don’t have family doctors, and thus, are getting sicker before getting help. Our healthcare system is imploding, and doctors are sounding the alarm bell. Kelowna General Hospital is on average at 120-130% capacity, and this is not sustainable.
I will continue to advocate for more General Practice Physicians, more capacity in our acute care system, and better health outcomes for you.
2. Cancer Care
We need more capacity in our cancer treatment. People are waiting far too long for diagnosis and treatment, which adversely affects their outcomes. In meeting with many in Kelowna, the cancer story told is one of a system of great doctors and nurses that are stretched too thin trying to provide care for so many.
I will advocate for a fully funded 10-year cancer strategic plan, focused on increase capacity, upgraded cancer care clinic here in Kelowna, and lower wait times for better outcomes.
3. Cost of Living
People are struggling. Gas, food, utilities, clothes – it doesn’t matter which essential service or good, things are expensive. People are striving to make ends meet and the government isn’t helping. Increased taxes and bureaucracy are adding to this burden.
I will advocate for lower and less taxes, as well as relief for British Columbians on the costs they bear.
The cost of housing, despite the Bank of Canada’s drastic escalation in interest rates, is still the highest in history.
I will continue to focus on bringing more supply to the market, and supporting measures that will accomplish that for Kelowna.
5. Mental Health
Our mental health system is chaotic and not focused on healing, wholeness, and rehabilitation. We see it in our families, workplaces and see the despair on our streets. Recently, I was asked by some graduate researchers at UBC where to find BC’s comprehensive mental health plan. I had to sadly tell them that there isn’t one.
I will stand up for those struggling with mental health issues. I will advocate for psychologists to be added to MSP and for the complex care facility in Kelowna that has been announced twice.
I have heard about how fearful people are walking around, or using Kelowna’s beautiful natural amenities.
I will continue to work to make Kelowna’s streets safer, and work to lower the number of prolific offenders and crime. I will advocate for greater measures asked for by the BC Prosecution Services and for serious resources to help them to prosecute crimes.
These priorities are what I have heard from you.
My question to you this week is this:
Have I missed anything important to you?
I love hearing from you!
Please email me at Renee.Merrifield.MLA@leg.bc.ca or call my office at 250-712-3620.