Skeena-Bulkley Valley 2019 federal election candidates (left to right, top to bottm): Merv Ritchie (Independent), Danny Nunes (Independent), Dave Birdi (Liberal), Rod Taylor (Christian Heritage), Taylor Bachrach (NDP), Jody Craven (People’s Party), Claire Rattée (Conservative) and Mike Sawyer (Green).

In their own words: What will you do at the federal level to improve pharmacare, health care and/or health services in Prince Rupert?

The Skeena-Bulkley Valley federal candidates talk about health in Prince Rupert

The Northern View reached out to each Skeena-Bulkley Valley candidate running in the 2019 Canadian federal elections.

Based on a web poll we ran online asking our readers what the most important election issue is to them, we crafted three questions to ask the candidates.

Based on our third place answer from the web poll, this week’s question is about health.

“What will you do at the federal level to improve pharamacare, health care and/or health services in Prince Rupert?

Each candidate was given the same amount of time and words to answer. The answers are unedited and presented in order of receipt.

QUESTION 1: What issues would you address in Prince Rupert specifically to tackle climate change?

LAST WEEK’S QUESTION: What economic initiatives are you going to push for Prince Rupert, at the federal level, to help stimulate our local economy and create job growth?

Merv Ritchie, Independent candidate.

Merv Ritchie, 

Independent candidate

Medical services are covered under Provincial legislation. What I can do in Ottawa is demand the spirit and intention of the national medical system be respected and fight for the following;.

Our government allowed Pharmaceutical companies to abuse their patents raising prices to unsustainable, unconscionable levels. We must reverse these measures.

Parking at Hospitals and Care facilities must be provided free of charge. It is not a choice to seek health care. Visits to these facilities are passionate and profiteering on this is not acceptable.

The medical system must include preventative measures such as dental care.

Nursing shifts are unreasonable at 12 hour day shift for two days, followed by 12 hours night shift for two days. Most people recognize the increased danger due to lack of awareness simply due to the daylight savings time shift of only one hour. Reasonable shift work makes for a happier, safer environment. Further to this the entire medical system could also be modified to participate in education and training of health professionals.

All treatment and diagnostic triage facilities must be equipped with an MRI for immediate patient review for initial assessments. This four minute assessment will introduce remarkable savings from mis-diagnoses and/or unnecessary treatment or delayed treatment. Application of the latest technology for diagnosis’ and radiology such as the new IBM ‘Watson’ and ‘Tricorder’ must be investigated for implementation in all medical services.

It is totally unacceptable for an automotive shop to have the latest diagnostic tools but not our medical facilities.

READ MORE: Independent Merv Ritchie on why he is running as independent candidate for Skeena-Bulkley Valley

Danny Nunes, Independent candidate.

Danny Nunes,

Independent candidate

We’re no strangers to love

You know the rules and so do I

A full commitment’s what I’m thinking of

You wouldn’t get this from any other guy

I just wanna tell you how I’m feeling

Gotta make you understand

Never gonna give you up

Never gonna let you down

Never gonna run around and desert you

Never gonna make you cry

Never gonna say goodbye

Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you

READ MORE: ‘Bear with me’: Kitimat comedian dressed in bear costume running as independent for Skeena-Bulkley Valley

Dave Birdi, Liberal candidate.

Dave Birdi,

Liberal candidate

Thank-you for the opportunity to share the importance topic of healthcare.

Healthcare and health services are the hallmark of Canadian values and part of Liberals core values. Better health care for our seniors, cleaner air, dedicated funding for mental health, universal pharmacare and home care services and affordable housing are all the pieces of the bigger puzzle to ensure Canadians are strong and free.

We have been working with all Canadians to make sure our kids and our grandkids inherit cleaner air, a healthy environment, and a more prosperous future. To help seniors stay independent for longer and receive care in their homes whenever possible, the Liberal government has made historic investments in dedicated funding for mental health and home care services, totalling more than $11 billion over 10 years.

The Liberal government has taken steps to protect Canadians, particularly seniors, from excessive drug prices. We’re modernizing outdated rules around patented drug prices for the first time in over 20 years. We want to work with the provinces on the best way to achieve universal pharmacare, as one part of a national plan to strengthen medicare something the Scheer Conservatives refuse to do and Singh isn’t sure how we’ll pay for it.

All Canadians deserve a safe and affordable place to call home. A home makes Canadians feel more secure, making it easier to raise healthy children, pursue an education, and gain employment. Affordable housing has meant all the difference for families and people of all ages and all walks of life

Health is wealth and wealth is health and as your MP, I will always work with the Liberal government to ensure your health is a priority.

READ MORE: Liberals acclaim former Fort St. James councillor as Skeena-Bulkley Valley candidate

Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage candidate.

Rod Taylor

Christian Heritage candidate

As MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, I will do everything possible to improve access to health services and improve health outcomes for residents of Prince Rupert and the entire region. Healthcare is primarily a provincial jurisdiction but there are aspects of healthcare which involve federal money and involvement, since transfer payments for healthcare come from the federal government.

In Prince Rupert, as in many communities, there is a shortage of both assisted living and extended care beds. This puts pressure on acute care beds and resources in hospitals. Much more should be and can be done to assist seniors with home care by providing appropriate support for family members providing basic housekeeping and meals assistance so that seniors are able to stay in their homes longer. More spaces need to be created for both assisted living and extended care so that couples can stay together even when requiring different levels of care and can remain closer to supportive family members.

The CHP would stop funding elective surgeries like abortion and gender-reassignment surgery; we believe those funds should be used instead to reduce wait-times for essential services. The CHP supports a limited pharmacare approach; we would help with needed drugs for those unable to afford them. We do not believe taxpayers should be forced to pay for abortifacient drugs, psychotropic drugs or puberty-blocking drugs.

The CHP would work to increase the number of doctors and nurses available in the Northwest. We would also work to improve safety for nurses and patients.

READ MORE: CHP chooses Skeena-Bulkley Valley candidate

Taylor Bachrach, NDP candidate.

Taylor Bachrach

NDP candidate

I’m proud that our party has a long legacy of fighting for better healthcare in Canada. It was the NDP that helped deliver our public healthcare system in the 1960s during a minority government.

There is more we can do to make our healthcare more affordable, more effective and more just. It starts with a national pharmacare plan. We are the only major country in the world with a universal healthcare system that doesn’t include the cost of prescription drugs.

It doesn’t make sense that our system covers the cost of seeing a doctor, but not the medicine they prescribe. Instead, we have some of the world’s most expensive prescription drugs, behind only the US. One in five Canadians skip taking their prescriptions because of the cost. In a country as wealthy as Canada, no one should have to choose between paying for medication and paying for essentials like groceries and rent.

The NDP is committed to bringing in a universal, public pharmacare plan. Instead of a patchwork of plans like the US system, our plan brings down the cost of drugs for everyone, saving an estimated $4.2 billion annually. Most of these savings would go to small businesses that provide insurance benefits for employees, allowing them to hire or expand.

It’s going to take courage to stand up to the big pharmaceutical lobbyists and the vested interests that have denied change for so long. That’s why I’m determined to go to Ottawa and fight for better healthcare for everyone.

READ MORE: Bachrach nominated by NDP for federal election

Jody Craven, People’s Party candidate.

Jody Craven

People’s Party candidate

In the French version of the national debates, Maxime Bernier showed himself unique, again, among the leaders of the major parties. Rather than irresponsibly pandering with promises (“buying votes with quotes”), Max bravely stated our federal credit card is full and we need to first balance the books. Throwing more money at a broken system will not fix it.

Healthcare is a provincial jurisdiction in which the Federal Government provides transfer payments (about $40 billion a year) that provinces use at their own discretion. If GST revenues were retained by the provinces the funds would be available to the provinces without depending on a Federal “allowance” for healthcare. This would cut out the middle-man and require provinces to be more fiscally responsible. And with more direct accountability, the decision makers would be more directly responsibility to the voices of healthcare providers, and in turn more responsible to the needs of those seeking healthcare.

The PPC also proposes establishing a private/public healthcare system in which either private or Government insurance would provide access to either private or public healthcare providers. This would provide more choice and less wait times, and still guarantee universal access.

Ultimately, the key is a balanced budget. By cutting in the areas of corporate welfare ($5B-$10B), foreign development aid ($5B), CBC ($1B), and revisiting the fiasco of transfer payments, it is possible to achieve a budget that would allow the actual reduction of taxes for every Canadian. More fiscal responsibility means more real money in our pockets.

READ MORE: PPC announces candidate for Skeena-Bulkley Valley

Mike Sawyer, Green candidate.

Mike Sawyer

Green Party candidate

The Green Party is committed to the principles and requirements of the Canada Health Act and to extending that model to other aspects of health care. The Green Party would expand the single-payer Medicare model to include Pharmacare for all and dental care for low-income Canadians.

Indigenous People face unique health challenges. It is important that these challenges are addressed at a federal level and that indigenous communities receive equal access to quality health care. Therefore, the Greens would uphold Jordan’s Principle in full, and would implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The Greens recognize that mental health is a major concern in Prince Rupert and will establish a national mental health strategy and a suicide prevention strategy to address the growing anxieties plaguing all Canadians.

The opioid crisis is a health-care issue not a criminal issue. Drug possession should be decriminalized, and people should have access to the medical support they need to combat their addictions.

Recognizing the high costs of receiving out-of-community health care in remote communities, I would support revising the Northern Residents Deduction to include Prince Rupert and other remote communities, saving residents up to $8,030 per year. Travel support for out-of-community medical trips would also be subsidized.

Finally, no consideration of health care would be complete without addressing poverty, a major driver of negative health outcomes in Prince Rupert and across the country. The Greens would establish a universal Guaranteed Livable Income so that no person should live in poverty.

READ MORE: Mike Sawyer announced as Green candidate for Skeena-Bulkley Valley

Claire Rattée, Conservative candidate.

Claire Rattée

Conservative candidate

Canadians deserve to have confidence in our health and social programs, and know that these services will be available to them when they need them most. That is why a Conservative Government is committed to both maintaining and increasing funding to the Canada Health Transfer and the Canada Social Transfer according to the current formula. We will also maintain the additional Shared Health Priorities funding for mental health and home care for provinces.

To ensure that Canadians with rare diseases have access to the drugs they need, we will work closely with provinces and territories and the Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders to implement a strategy that will encourage more orphan drugs to be developed in and brought to Canada, to improve early detection of rare diseases and evidence-informed care, and promote innovative research. We will also maintain the $500 million per year commitment and work with provinces to ensure that Canadians with rare diseases have access to treatments that they need.

We will also invest $1.5 billion to add new medical imaging equipment such as MRI and CT machines and replace the aging ones. This will ensure wait times for critical testing will be reduced, allowing healthcare providers to deliver quality services faster and with the most up-to-date technology.

As your federal representative, I will work with the provincial and municipal governments to find solutions to the unique challenges of rural healthcare in our communities including the recruitment and retainment of more healthcare professionals.

READ MORE: Kitimat resident is Conservative choice for fall election

QUESTION 1: What issues would you address in Prince Rupert specifically to tackle climate change?

LAST WEEK’S QUESTION: What economic initiatives are you going to push for Prince Rupert, at the federal level, to help stimulate our local economy and create job growth?

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