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Two Richmond delegations meet BC’s party leaders

By Florence Gordon and Matthew Cheung

Published 12:33 PDT, Fri May 26, 2023

On May 10, ICONNBC Business Association organized a Richmond business delegation and a youth delegation along with Richmond Sentinel’s media team, to travel together for an all-day excursion at the legislation buildings in Victoria, BC.

Meetings were arranged with the NDP: Premier Eby, Minister Dix, Richmond MLA Singh, MLA Yao, MLA Green and with the BC United Party: Leader of the Opposition MLA Falcon and MLA Wat. (Green Party did not respond).

Premier Eby met with the two delegations from Richmond and responded to questions on economy, health care, and international affairs: People are moving to British Columbia from Alberta, Ontario and from around the world. The economy and job opportunities are doing well but with that, came an impact on public services: schools, hospitals, parks, roads and housing. Employers reported they are challenged with hiring new employees because of the housing shortage. One of our strategies is to buy land when developing a transportation system to the suburbs and partner with developers. 

Health Care: the pandemic and a growing population as mentioned earlier, put a toll on our doctors and nurses, so we have to get more people into our health care system. The doctors and nurses that moved to BC, held credentials not recognized in BC and therefore, they couldn’t work in their field. We’re working with the colleges to fast track and allow them to work in their chosen profession under supervision. The long-term plan is a medical school in Surrey and at SFU a new medical program will focus on medical care.

International relations: are handled federally and when there is a conflict with a country like the current one with China, there’s usually a trade consequence. When it is a specific issue like the recent one with China, it can create issues like racism. When USA, one of our biggest partners campaigned ‘Buy America’ our export sales were affected. Having more country partners is not only smart business but gives us more leverage for a stronger economy. 

Minister of Health, Hon. Adrian Dix met with the two Richmond delegations and responded to questions on health care: Richmond had one of the highest vaccination rates in Canada and this had a profound impact. Sometimes we forget in the midst of the moment to come together and celebrate important achievements.

We have major healthcare projects: community care, long-term care and acute care. The support from the community for these projects and for the Richmond hospital project, has been exceptional, and it shows the commitment the people in Richmond have. 

We’ve gone through a pandemic as well as a public health emergency with overdoses and mental health. This is a time to reform healthcare, to work with the doctors in B.C. 480 doctors, who didn’t practice family medicine last year are now practicing, with an approximate addition of 3,600 in 2023. These are significant changes, and as well, B.C. has set records for surgeries and diagnostics. 

Three and a half years ago, there were lots of issues, but no one thought a pandemic would be one of them. I think you can objectively say, that Richmond schools stayed open longer, hospitals and our long-term care workers were exceptional, and we had great support from the community. 

Regarding labour shortages in healthcare, when COVID shut down the hospitality and hotel industry, we hired 7,000 people into long-term care, but we have a moral and social obligation to train more healthcare workers. 

With respect to high inflation rates, we’ve taken a series of specific steps but, it’s been a real challenge for the affordability of communities. If we want to recruit nurses to the Richmond Hospital, our preference and their preference would be to live in Richmond, but affordability is a priority. A huge part of what we have to do is address the housing issue. 

I would argue that the key issue for metro Vancouver is housing, and how we address that issue combined with the human resources issue is a huge challenge for us.  

Official Leader of the Opposition, MLA Kevin Falcon talked at great length with both Richmond delegations about the need for long-term planning: patient care, long-term care, private care, Richmond Hospital, public and family practitioners, shortage of hospital doctors and nurses and holding the government accountable.

Why BC United? “I wanted everyone to feel welcome, share values.” We want a compassionate policy to look after those struggling with mental health and addictions and with our program ‘Better is Possible’ we will do that, by helping those who need help to leave the streets and into a proper 24/7 care with proper medical support.

Instead of decriminalization that’s happening now, where people can use dangerous drugs in parks, playgrounds and beaches, we say no. There needs to be guardrails to ensure were not having open drug use around our children. These are the kind of issues we feel are important to fight for, to ensure we have a province that I call the ‘opportunity province’ where everyone feels they can come here, start a business here, raise a family and build a future together. 

ICONNBC Business Association would like to thank Richmond’s MLA Singh, MLA Yao, and MLA Wat for arranging the meetings.

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