MLA Rice leads provincial health tour

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice is gathering feedback on access to maternal health care and more in rural B.C. communities

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice

While the big crunch on Canadian health care in the coming years may be the baby boomers reaching retirement age or older, it’s maternal health that shouldn’t be passed over in some smaller and rural communities, said North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice on April 8.

Despite Prince Rupert’s own centralized maternal care, many B.C. communities have a tough time coordinating services for pregnancy or childbirth and Rice, the opposition critic for northern and rural health, is touring the province to explore the issue.

“One of the biggest issues I hear about when talking about rural health is timely access to maternal health … The tour has been focusing on smaller communities like those on Haida Gwaii, the central coast and the interior thus far,” said Rice.

“The purpose of the tour is to hear from parents, advocates and service providers and talk about practical solutions so that women in northern and rural communities have fair access to basic maternal care.”

Rice added that the most cited need in Rupert has been access to a midwife.

“If an expectant mother wants to work with a midwife during her pregnancy she has to travel outside of Prince Rupert to access one. I do believe we have some excellent services available with the maternity team here,” she said.

In Prince Rupert, the MLA cited mental health care, addiction treatment and a chronic shortage of care workers, specifically for seniors.

“Mental health and addiction services are lacking in Prince Rupert. We have services but they’re not enough. We lack a permanent psychiatrist and addictions treatment options… People have to travel far away… for in-patient addictions services and when they do leave and come back, there is a gap between transitioning from treatment and integration back into the community,” she said.

In early April, an autism awareness walk provided exposure to the need for a centralization of services in Rupert, specifically in identifying and diagnosing the condition, which can only be done in Prince George, said organizers of the walk. Discussions are underway with service providers such as the hospital and school system to better streamline the process for autistic children and teens.

The piling travel costs coupled with the missed days of work are also an obstacle for travelling patients attending specialists’ appointments. Ophthalmology services are also needed in the city. The closest location in Terrace is currently experiencing long delays due to a backlog of patients needing treatment and surgeries, said the MLA.

Probably one of the most fundamental issues on the North Coast though, is the deficiency of hospital health care workers.

“There is a chronic shortage of health care workers in the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital including nurses and the health care aid workers in Acropolis Manor. They are often operating short-staffed. The per patient funding for long-term care is inadequate … People are living longer and needing heavier care but the human resources allocated to provide that care is not keeping up. This is putting a great risk to both the workers and patients,” Rice said.

Rice next visits the Peace Region, Bella Bella and Vancouver Island on the tour.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Flights are to resume to Prince Rupert and Sandspit airports under an Air Canada and federal government $5.9 billion agreement that was reached on April 12. A plane is seen through the window on the tarmac of Vancouver International Airport as the waiting room is empty Tuesday, June 9, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
$5.879 billion agreement between Air Canada and Fed’s will assist YPR in re-opening

Prince Rupert Regional Airport to reopen flights by June 1st, if not earlier

BC Housing townhouses on Kootenay Ave. were demolished during March to make way for new affordable residential units by Prince Rupert Indigenous Housing Society. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Despite a recent reduction in units project will still be able to house many

Prince Rupert Indigenous Housing Society says 60 units is still the plan

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Prince Rupert City Council approved the purchase of computer chipped recycling bins on April 12. A Penticton garbage truck lifts a new bin. (Western News photo)
Big Brother to help with the garbage – computer chipped recycling bins report your bylaw infractions

They report, but will they sort — recycle bins to cost Prince Rupert $564,850

Pembina Prince Rupert Terminal celebrated the opening of operations on April 12 in a virtual online ceremony with President and CEO Mick Dilger and Manager of Communications and Media Affair Tasha Cadotte commemorating the ribbon-cutting. (Photo: Supplied)
Pembina celebrates opening of operations in Prince Rupert

A virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony commemorates LPG export facility on Watson Island

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. sees 873 more COVID-19 cases Tuesday, decline continues

Hospitalizations up to 377, two more deaths for 1,515 total

FILE – People hold signs during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver on Saturday, August 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. to request federal exemption for simple drug possession

Announcement comes on 5-year anniversary of B.C.’s first public health emergency

(AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, FIle)
Rare blood clots ‘may be linked’ to AstraZeneca vaccines: Health Canada

One case of the adverse effect has been reported in Canada

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Two men walk past a sign on Main Street in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calls for government transparency in COVID data continue as B.C.’s 3rd wave wears on

Social media, where both information and misinformation can spread like wildfire, has not helped

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Observers ‘gutted’ as pair filmed removing red dresses hung along B.C. highway

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Indigenous Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

A grey whale off the coast of Vancouver Island is being monitored by Canadian and U.S. researchers, as it has developed lesions after being tagged last year. To try and prevent systemic infection from developing, the team administered antibiotics to the whale on March 31 and April 1. (Photo from the NOAA Fisheries website)
Grey whale off Vancouver Island develops lesions after being tagged, researchers monitor its condition

Canadian and U.S. whale experts administered antibiotics to the animal on March 31, April 1

Sharis Carr, a nurse at the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Service Center in Clarksdale, Miss., holds a box containing doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, April 7, 2021. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
EXPLAINER: What’s known about COVID vaccines and rare clots

These are not typical blood clots – they’re weird in two ways

Most Read