By Premier John Horgan
COVID-19 continues to be the biggest challenge of our time. Every day, it reminds us how important it is to have reliable access to health care services.
For people living in rural, remote and Indigenous communities, regular access to health care isn’t always easy, even at the best of times. When you or a family member gets sick, you sometimes have to travel for hours to get the care you need. This comes with additional costs, which add more stress and anxiety when you are already dealing with a health emergency.
Our government has been working with rural, remote and Indigenous communities for the last three years to deliver better, faster health care services, and we’ve been making progress.
COVID-19 is adding pressure to an already overburdened health care system. That’s why we’re stepping in with new transportation options – including planes, helicopters and 55 new ground ambulances – to get people from their home communities to the health care they need at a moment’s notice.
If you are sick, we are committed to getting you to the care you need, when you need it.
We will also be providing self-isolation accommodations close to hospitals, faster and culturally safe COVID-19 testing methods, increased mental health supports, and improved virtual health care through our Virtual Doctor of the Day program that connects First Nations members in remote communities to a doctor or nurse practitioner through video conferencing.
Every community has its own specific needs. Our work with local leaders will help deliver these new supports to communities in a way that fits with their pandemic response plans and gets people the care they need.
When we get to the other side of the pandemic, these supports will be adapted to address long-standing issues and inequalities that rural, remote and Indigenous communities face in accessing health care services. These are not band-aid solutions – they will help stop the spread of COVID-19 now and support better health outcomes for the future.
By continuing to work with communities, regional health authorities and First Nations, we will get through this challenging time stronger than ever, and with more people getting the health care they need and deserve – no matter where they live.