Premier incumbent and NDP leader John Horgan, along with local candidates from around southeast B.C., spoke to some issues faced by British Columbians in the Kootenays.
In a virtual conference, Horgan, Wayne Stetski (Kootenay East), Nicole Cherlet (Columbia River-Revelstoke), Katrine Conroy (Kootenay West) and Brittny Anderson (Nelson-Creston) spoke about what their party has to offer.
Horgan said the NDP will remain committed to fighting against COVID-19 and renewing acute care facilities in the province. The East Kootenay regional hospital has been working with Interior Health to complete various upgrades to its facilities.
“We were doing our best to make sure we focus on those communities that need help the most. This is not about politics, it’s not about how people vote, it’s about the most urgent need,” said Horgan. “I know the importance of the regional hospital in Cranbrook for the entire East Kootenay, we’ll continue to work on that. I know it’s going to be a high priority for both Wayne and Nicole.”
Horgan also explained that the NDP plans to address the shortage of healthcare workers by hiring 7,000 more long-term care workers and establishing a second medical school in the province.
“Having residencies in rural B.C. increases the prospect of those doctors staying in communities once they’ve finished their residency. We want to encourage more people to come out of med school and get into their residency in rural British Columbia,” said Horgan. “Once you’ve come to the Kootenays, particularly when you have access to the Elk Valley on one side and the Columbia Valley to the north, people are going to want to stay there.”
As well, the NDP has committed to help out B.C.’s struggling tourism sector.
“We’re not having international visitors coming this winter, we’re going to be having people locally. The large, urban centres, I’m hopeful, will see a lot of ski lessons,” explained Horgan. “The day after the election, I’ll get in touch with Destination BC and ask why they don’t have a more even regional distribution of advertising.”
On the topic of wildfires, rural British Columbians face threats from the fire season every summer, and the NDP said it will work to lower the impacts of future fire seasons.
“Thankfully, we’ve had a light fire season this year, so we’re going to be able to put more resources in at the front end as the weather turns in the spring,” explained Horgan. “I believe COVID gives us an opportunity to make those investments, to create some jobs and transform the fear that people could be living in if we have another catastrophic wildfire year if we have on next year or the year after.”
Horgan said cleanup operations of the forest floor are essential to help reduce wildfire risks.
Local candidates Wayne Stetski (Kootenay East) and Nicole Cherlet (Columbia River-Revelstoke) are running against Liberal incumbents Tom Sypitka (Kootenay East), and Doug Clovechok (Columbia River-Revelstoke) and Green Party candidates Kerri Wall (Kootenay East) and Samson Boyer (Columbia River-Revelstoke).
General voting day for the provincial election is Saturday, October 24th.
More: BC Liberals tout “bold” platform for 2020 Provincial Election (Oct. 20, 2020)
More: BC Green Party presents a platform focused on economy and ecosystem (Oct 21, 2020)