Saanich North MLA Adam Olsen will visit the Nelson-Creston riding for four days starting Friday in one leg of a Green Party tour of the province primarily focused on health care matters. He spoke to Vista Radio on Monday.
What is bringing you to our area?
It’s summertime and it’s an opportunity for elected representatives to get out around the province and talk to British Columbians. We spend a lot of time in the legislature. Both leader Sonia Furstenau and I are on Vancouver Island, so it’s important for us to do our work with a provincial view and mindset. It’s important to hear from a variety of voices so when we go back into the legislature we’ve got a multi-dimensional view from people across the province, not just from our constituents.
What sorts of things are you going to be talking about?
A large number of the meetings I have are around health care. We’ve put a specific focus for our tour this summer to talk to British Columbians about the primary care system and of course the challenges our system has been facing over the last couple of years but really has been growing over the last decade or so.
As well, we’ll be meeting with some folks around old-growth logging, which for Sonia and me continues to be an issue, particularly the continued degradation of our natural environment and biodiversity. We’ll be having meetings with folks who are active on the old-growth forestry file as well.
Who will you be talking to?
We’ll be meeting with doctors, folks working in clinics, health care workers, and citizens experiencing the impact of the health care crisis we’re facing, from the erosion of our primary care system, and the fact 20 per cent of British Columbians don’t have access to a family doctor — in some communities it’s a much higher number than others — all the way through to the devastating impact COVID has had and continues to have on our acute care system. As Health Minister Adrian Dix said, last week 16,000 health care workers in the province were off the job sick, causing incredible challenges within all aspects of our health care system.
What’s the solution? We now have walk-in clinics in Nelson that are no longer truly walk-in, but require appointments.
We need to be training doctors, but we need to ensure those doctors have a remuneration system that reflects the work they’re doing. There is not necessarily a shortage of primary care and family doctors, but it’s how they’re remunerated. The current fee-for-service payment system is outdated. It treats every single doctor’s visit like it’s the same when we know there are a variety of health care needs. Some visits require 45 minutes and some require five minutes. Yet the current fee-for-service model treats every visit like it’s exactly the same.
The shortest term action the government could take is to review the fee-for-service payment system and add payment codes, like they did for COVID-19, that would allow doctors to bill the government for the work they do rather than treating everything like it’s a 15 minute visit.
What’s the Green Party’s position on old-growth?
The challenge we have with the NDP government, similar to the challenges we had with the Liberal government before is they put the highest value on fibre. Dead trees, frankly. I think tens of thousands of British Columbians see value in living forests, especially old growth.
The provincial government has agreed to defer some of the the conversations about when these forests are going to be cut. These are not protections for these forests, they are simply kicking the can about when they will be cut further down the road. We need a provincial government to recognize that the last remaining old growth forests need to be protected for the obvious other values they bring.
Old growth ecosystems are the most biodiverse we have. With so few of those remaining I think it’s incumbent upon us to protect them. Sonia and I have been very vocal about that. We’ve been the only party willing to stand up and talk about old growth in the legislature. We’re going to continue to play that role. We see the value the BC Greens bring to the legislature really come to light when we talk about issues like old growth where both the NDP and Liberals are unwilling to talk about it.
Over the last five years we’ve raised this dozens if not hundreds of times in the legislature and we will continue to apply pressure on the provincial government to do as they said they were going to do, and protect these forests. Not defer the decisions, but actually protect them.