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Local MLA calls for equitable access to cancer treatment

Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok has asked Health Minister Adrian Dix for equitable access to cancer treatment for his riding.

Clovechok said this follows an announcement that will see B.C. cancer patients sent to Bellingham, Washington for treatment.

“We choose to live where we live, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have fair and equitable access to the healthcare that we want and need,” said Clovechok. “We need to look at things in a different way and we have to rekindle our relationship with Alberta.”

In the letter Clovechok penned to Minister Dix, he asked three questions:

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“1. Will rural B.C. patients receive financial support from the province while they access treatment within B.C. such as at Kelowna, or is this just for those who are sent to Bellingham? If it is just the latter, then I would appreciate learning the reasoning behind that.
2. Will rural British Columbians who have already spent tens of thousands of dollars in cancer treatment in B.C. receive any compensation? If not, why not?
3. Will cancer patients from Columbia River-Revelstoke be sent to “Bellingham, or will this option only apply to patients from urban areas in the Lower Mainland? If so, I would like to understand why.”

Clovechok said allowing patients to seek coss-border treatment would be beneficial for rural areas.

“Just to get to an oncology treatment in Kelowna, if you’re living in Invermere, it’s not an easy thing to do. Meanwhile, you can drive two-and-a-half hours to Calgary to get cancer treatment,” said Clovechok.

He noted that he spoke with Alberta’s previous health minister about the issue.

“I talked to both health ministers at that time, and they are very willing to work with British Columbia. They understand we have a Canadian Health Act, yet our health minister doesn’t seem to agree with that,” said Clovechok. “It’s something that’s really important to me, but it’s more important to the patients that we serve.”

Clovechok hopes his letter and talks with B.C.’s health minister can help push for a solution.

“We have to start looking at things differently out here and I’ve been pushing the minister hard to do that,” said Clovechok.

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