COLUMN: Health care in Saanich North and the Islands

MLA Adam Olsen hosting two meetings on health care this month

MLA Adam Olsen. (BC Green Party)

Since my election last May, many of our meetings in the constituency office have been about health and well being. Several important issues have been raised from people and organizations delivering health services in our riding as well as from people who wanted to share their personal experiences with our health system.

We quickly realized we needed to have a bigger discussion and focus more of our attention on health care in Saanich North and the Islands.

I felt it was important to learn more about the system serving our riding and how we can improve it.

To that end, we have devoted a lot of time and energy in the first month of 2018 to health care.

We started by bringing over 80 health care service providers together on Salt Spring Island and in Sidney to hear the challenges and some of the opportunities we might consider.

My intent of these meetings was twofold: to become better informed and to build/strengthen community networks.

Despite the complexity of the system and the significant list of obstacles, it is exciting to be able to connect people and uncover the solutions that are right at our fingertips. We assume that health care providers all know each other, but that is not true.

So, getting people in the same room is a powerful place to start and I am thankful that so many health providers took time out of their schedule to participate.

As someone who does not come from the health care system, I have a lot to learn. The focus this month has helped me understand the system, the people, the challenges and opportunities and I am now confident that although there are key differences between the Saanich Peninsula and Southern Gulf Islands, the top challenges across the riding are largely the same: primary care (family doctors and community clinics), mental health, elder and youth care. Not surprisingly, housing was a huge concern in all parts of the riding. A person’s housing security goes a long way in determining their physical and mental well being.

Healthy homes, healthy people.

A key takeaway from the meetings was that there is enough money in our system already, it just needs to be spent more efficiently. Clearly, health professionals need to be part of fixing the problems.

Interestingly, nearly all of the discussion focused on helping illness. Clearly this is the focus of our current system. We need to do a much better job at focusing on wellness and prevention. Redesigning our system to ensure people are well, will free up resources to better help those who are ill.

To continue the health care discussion, we are inviting the public to participate in a community dialogue on health care on January 20 at our constituency office where they can share their experiences and ideas of how the system can be improved.

Last, on January 24, I am hosting Hon. Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, to a public Town Hall at the St. Paul’s United Church in Sidney. This is an excellent opportunity to hear from Minister Dix and ask him directly about health care in BC. Visit my website http://adamolsen.ca/ for more information. I hope to see you at one of our upcoming events.

Adam Olsen is the BC Green Party MLA for Saanich North and the Islands

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