Province eyes more health-care services for Sooke

The provincial government is “absolutely committed” to improving access to health care in Sooke, says Premier John Horgan.

For months Mayor Maja Tait and the Sooke Primary Health Working Service Group has been lobbying the province, Island Health, the Capital Regional District and pretty much anyone who will listen on the need for better health-care program and facilities in Sooke.

“We are absolutely committed to improving access to health care in Sooke and other smaller communities. The health minister is aware of these challenges and he is working hard to find solutions, not just for families in Sooke, but for people across the province,” said Horgan, who is also the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca.

The province has a mandate to prioritize team-based primary care across B.C., which includes better access to physicians, home care nursing, social workers, dietitians, public health and mental health services.

“We’ve made it clear delivering accessible, quality, health care, including team-based primary care, is a high priority for our government. We’re looking at ways to improve services,” Horgan said.

The Sooke Primary Health Working Service Group recently got the support of the Capital Regional Health District and Island Health.

Island Health is in the early stages of developing a health service plan for the West Shore, which includes Sooke, as the region continues to grow and demand for health-care service increases.

“Once we have the plan complete, we would be able to discuss future potential service delivery options within our annual financial and operational processes,” said Meribeth Burton, a spokesperson for Island Health.

The Sooke Primary Health Working Service Group is collecting information for a framework for what kinds of health facilities it would like to see in the community, based on current service and growing population needs.

But the process has been difficult, Tait said.

One problem is that the B.C. Health Ministry is using different statistical information than the working group. For instance, Sooke is looking at the recent Canada Census data for 2016 and the growth rate of the area since 2002, while the province is using Canada Census data from 2011 and population increases since 2006.

Another problem? The health area for Sooke includes Langford and Colwood, which manipulates the data, Tait said.

“We’re not even looking through the same lens,” Tait said.

Island Health for its part said it’s grappling with a growing and aging population across Vancouver Island.

“They (Island Health) have told me upfront that there’s no funding,” Tait said. “There are other areas that they deem a priority and I totally get that, but I’m advocating for Sooke, not other areas.”

klaird@blackpress.ca

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