Newsletter from MLA/Minister Katrine Conroy
Strengthening our healthcare system
If there’s one thing I’ve heard from people in our community throughout the year, it’s how important our healthcare system is, and what we can do to improve health services.
Our government has been working hard to increase the number of people working at all levels of the healthcare system:
- 3,882 family physicians have registered for the new longitudinal payment model, which aims to help recruit and retain more family doctors.
- 6,258 new nurses registered with the B.C. College of Nurses and Midwives, including 578 internationally educated nurses who have chosen to practice here in B.C.
- More than 1,000 new permanent full-time paramedic and emergency responder positions have been added in communities right around the province.
- Over 7,000 people have been hired within the Health Career Access Program; a program that helps people gain non-clinical experience, in fields such as long-term care, assisted living, home health or acute care, while they are training to become healthcare assistants.
- We have also added 3,324 new training seats for nurses, allied health professionals, and healthcare assistants.
In addition to this, we’ve also alleviated some of the stress put on doctors and walk-in clinics by having pharmacists available to treat minor ailments and provide contraceptive services. Nearly 300,000 British Columbians have used this service; with more than 132,000 people using a pharmacist to treat a minor ailment, and over 188,000 people accessing free contraceptives.
We know that there is more work to do, and this is just the start.
In the next year, we will be doing even more to help retain, redesign, recruit and train within the healthcare system to support patients and workers. This includes more front-line clinic management support, a new recruitment campaign, more peer support and mentoring for those in healthcare careers, and much more.
Seventy years ago, a deep injustice was committed by the provincial government against children and families from the Sons of Freedom Doukhobor community. MLAs Katrine Conroy, Roly Russell, Brittny Anderson are working with community to plan apology
10 West Kootenay transportation projects receive grants – Nelson Star
Over $300,000 is being funded across the region! Congratulations to all the West Kootenay funding recipients.
300,000 have received free contraceptives, expanded pharmacist care
Nearly 300,000 people have benefited from free contraceptives and being able to see a pharmacist for treatment of minor ailments or contraceptives since government expanded the scope of practice for pharmacists on June 1, 2023. People in B.C. are feeling squeezed by everyday costs. That’s why we made contraceptives free and began allowing pharmacists to prescribe medications for minor ailments like rashes, infections and allergies. This has relieved pressure on clinics and ERs and saved British Columbians hundreds of dollars on contraceptives every year. This is just one way we’re making health care more accessible and making life more affordable. To learn more about the universal coverage of contraceptives in B.C., visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2023HLTH0016-000289
New rebates make healthier home heating more affordable
Keeping warm during winter will have a lower effect on air quality in B.C. as more incentives and education on replacing wood stoves with cleaner, healthier heating options roll out. By increasing the amount available for rebates, we’re helping more people breathe healthier air in their homes and in their communities. In partnership with the BC Lung Foundation, the Government of B.C. will provide approximately $240,000 in rebates in 2024 through the Community Wood Smoke Reduction Program. For information on heat pump rebates in B.C., visit: https://www.betterhomesbc.ca
B.C. expanding use of mass timber in buildings
Proposed changes to the building code will expand the use of mass timber to build taller buildings and to make stronger communities. These changes will allow buildings, such as schools, shopping centres and housing to be built faster, leading to a better environment and economy. These proposed mass timber building code changes align with our recent work to deliver more homes near transit hubs by allowing taller buildings and more sustainable housing options near transit. They will also help reduce carbon pollution, support the forestry sector, create jobs, build more homes and lead to more vibrant, healthier communities.
B.C. improving services, wait times for tenants, landlords
Renters and landlords in B.C. are seeing faster and more efficient residential tenancy dispute resolutions thanks to government’s recent service improvements. The actions we are taking will only continue to speed up service and increase user clarity as we work towards ensuring that renters and landlords can easily access the services they need. Dispute resolution services at the Province’s Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) have substantially improved in several ways over the last year.
Drug eligibility expanded for children with cystic fibrosis
More children in B.C. who are living with cystic fibrosis are now eligible for Trikafta, a medication that has shown to improve lung function and quality of life, as well as reduce the frequency of lung attacks. Coverage criteria for Trikafta in B.C. was expanded on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023, based on a recommendation from the Canadian Drug Expert Committee (CDEC). The drug is covered through the B.C. Expensive Drugs for Rare Diseases process, which allows patients to access high-cost drugs for rare conditions on a case-by-case basis.
Immunizations will help keep people safer this holiday season
As people in British Columbia gather to celebrate the holiday season, the province encourages everyone to book an appointment to receive their free influenza and updated COVID-19 vaccines now to protect themselves against severe illness and hospitalization. We want everyone in B.C. to be safe as they gather this holiday season. That is why continuing to practise healthy habits is so important, so people can focus on connecting and celebrating during the coming weeks.
Expansion of virtual bail supports safer communities
The provincewide expansion of virtual bail is a significant step toward a more efficient justice system. In collaboration with the Provincial Court, virtual bail hearings, including electronic document submissions for bail hearings by lawyers, have been successfully expanded and implemented throughout B.C. Expanding virtual bail hearings provincewide means more people can access court proceedings faster while staying in their communities, and close to the local services and supports they are connected to.
People affected by crime will soon have better support, access to care
People who have been affected by crime will soon have improved access to supports and care, with new updates being implemented by the Province on Jan. 1, 2024. Victims of crime, their immediate family members and witnesses are impacted by crime in different ways, but they all need support and access to services in order to heal. The province is expanding services and coverage for victims of crime to ensure that comprehensive and compassionate supports and services are accessible to those who need them, when they need the
My community office will be closed to the public December 22nd – January 2nd 2024 for the Holiday Season. Angelika and Sarah will be checking emails and voicemails during this time intermittently. The office can be reached at 250-304-2783 or Katrine.Conroy.MLA@leg.bc.ca.
Get help with government services – Province of British Columbia Service BC provides front line support for many of the hundreds of programs and services the provincial government offers to residents, businesses and visitors. Please feel free to contact Service BC for assistance.
Phone or email: The Service BC Contact Centre can help you find what you need. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, 7:30am to 5:00pm (Pacific Time), except B.C. Statutory Holidays.
- Find mental health and substance-use supports: HelpStartsHere (gov.bc.ca)
- Find Youth drug prevention supports: Youth drug prevention (gov.bc.ca)
- If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call or text 9-8-8. Support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through 9-8-8: Suicide Crisis Helpline.
- 8-1-1 is a free-of-charge provincial health information and advice phone line available in British Columbia.