British Columbia

NDP pledges to build urgent family care centres

John Horgan began week two on the B.C. Election campaign trail in Burnaby promising to build urgent care centres to improve access to health care in B.C. But it's still unclear where the money will come from.

Party says centres will improve access to primary health care, but there's no estimate on how much it'll cost

BC NDP Leader John Horgan hosted a roundtable discussion on healthcare issues on Monday in Burnaby (Farrah Merali)

NDP Leader John Horgan began week 2 on the B.C. Election campaign trail in Burnaby promising to build urgent care centres to improve access to health care in B.C.

Horgan made the announcement at a roundtable discussion at the home of a supporter in the Burnaby-Deer Lake riding.

"We wil build urgent family care centres that will be a go-between between the walk-in clinics that we have today and the clogged emergency rooms currently," said Horgan.

The B.C. NDP Leader said the centres will be staffed with doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, mental health works and other front-line workers.

Horgan blasted the BC Liberals "GP For Me program" which pledged to ensure every British Columbian has a family doctor by 2015.

"[The Liberals] had a program. They called it GP For Me, and it didn't work. And they haven't replaced it," said Horgan.

"We're going to replace that program with one that puts teams together to provide services to people."

Costs unclear

While the initiative pledges to improve access to primary health care, there are few details about where the money will come from, outside of the $7 billion additional dollars the NDP has pledged to spend on capital projects over five years.

"It'll be within the existing health care budget which was fully costed in our fiscal plan," said Horgan. "We want to assemble those teams in a cost-effective way."

It's also unclear how many centres the party would build and what the timeline would be. 

"We're going to build them as we need them in the areas that have the most demand. That's where emergency rooms are the most clogged."

Clark campaigns on the Island

Campaigning in Campbell River, Clark highlighted her government's record in helping business, such as phasing out the provincial sales tax on electricity that she says would save businesses $160 million a year, including pulp and paper companies in the northern part of Vancouver Island.

Vancouver Island has been a stronghold for the NDP but Clark says the province has a successful economic record on the island because of Liberal policies.

She said the unemployment rate in the north island is half what it was under the last NDP government before the Liberals came to power in 2001.

"More people are working and our jobs plan has worked for British Columbia," she said.

"We've supported the private sector in creating thousands of jobs here and I don't think people, whether in the south island, the mid-island or the north island, want to give up that prosperity. We want to keep this going."

Christy Clark campaigns in Campbell River on Apr. 17, 2017. (Christer Waara/CBC)

With files from The Canadian Press