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HomeNewsProvincial budget improves health care access in the Kootenays: BC Finance Minister

Provincial budget improves health care access in the Kootenays: BC Finance Minister

Minister Katrine Conroy says the 2024/25 provincial budget will help address the unique needs of rural BC communities. 

Last week, the province released its 2024/25 budget, which projects a near $8 billion deficit to support a variety of initiatives that the province says prioritize issues around affordability and access to services. 

$43 billion of the budget is allocated to support healthcare, housing, and education improvement projects. Conroy said the investment will specifically help address the issues of housing, affordability, and access to healthcare in the Kootenay Region. 

However, on the issue of access to healthcare, Conroy says not every community can offer certain healthcare services locally, which is why she says the province is adding new programs to ensure people in rural areas have access to the healthcare supports they need. 

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“We’re adding programs to ensure that people can get the supports they need, especially cancer care supports. We all know that we can’t get all of our services in our own community because it’s just not possible. We have people in the community that are needing cancer care outside of the region, and we have funding that will ensure that they can get paid back for driving to Kelowna for cancer care.” 

Conroy added that her government is also looking at increasing home support for the aging population and expanding support for long-term care facilities to ensure people can access proper care. 

The 2024/25 budget also addresses a province-wide healthcare worker shortage, which Premier David Eby identified in the fall. 

Conroy explained that a portion of the budget will support the addition of more nurse training seats in public post-secondary institutions across the province and adding a program to fast-track the credential-transfer process for international healthcare workers. 

“We’re bringing in a program to make sure that people who are moving here with foreign credentials can fast-track their experience. I’ve heard stories about international doctors or engineers driving a cab in BC because the process to get their credentials recognized is too difficult. So we’re fast-tracking that because they have the credentials; they know what they’re doing; they should be providing healthcare services to people.” 

She added that the province had to make difficult decisions when developing the 2024/25 budget, and although some people may be alarmed about the $8 billion deficit, Conroy said it is needed to ensure that the imminent needs of British Columbians are addressed. 

“We had to choose between continuing to provide services to people in this province or making cuts to services. We had to choose between not raising taxes for ordinary British Columbians or raising taxes. We’ve chosen to increase the deficit, but at the same time, we’re going to be continuing to provide services, services like healthcare and education and making sure that we’ve got the capacity to do the infrastructure that people want to see built.” 


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