Candidates running for election will field questions on health care and education at two upcoming events as they continue their quest to become Nelson-Creston’s MLA.
Always hotbed issues in this riding, NDP candidate Michelle Mungall, Green Party candidate Sjeng Derkx and Liberal candidate Greg Garbula are all confirmed to attend the focused forums.
The Kootenay Lake School Board is hosting an all-candidates education forum on Wednesday, May 8 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.. Held at the Nelson board office boardroom (570 Johnstone Road), superintendent Jeff Jones will moderate the event featuring questions from the audience and trustees.
“Trustees are interested in having a greater public dialogue about our candidates’ understanding and commitment to public education,” Jones says. “The questions will focus on questions about education from a provincial perspective and a local perspective.”
This is the first time the trustees have hosted a forum as a vehicle for questioning candidates running for election.
“It’s an important time in the history of public education. We’re moving forward toward a future that we’re still creating together. There’s a lot of debate at the provincial level about education. Our board are the locally elected representatives and their connection to the provincial picture is very important to them,” says Jones.
The forum will also be viewed via videoconference from the Creston Education Centre Board Room. It will also be streamed on YouTube.
“We know it’s a reality of today’s world that many members of our community will want to sit in the comfort of their homes to watch the forum,” says Jones. “We have been working with a great deal of intentionality to increase our use of technology to inform and engage our communities.”
Nelson’s health care professionals along with community members have also teamed up to organize an all-candidates health care forum on Thursday, May 9. Held at the Hume Hotel, the event will highlight one of the emerging issues of the provincial election.
Called, “What’s in your Health Care Future,” the forum will feature questions prepared by local health care professionals in the first half of the evening. Candidates will receive some of these questions beforehand. In the second, candidates will address health care questions from the audience.
Dr. Shiraz Moola says the forum isn’t about catching the candidates off guard.
“We have arrived at this format as a way of allowing the candidates time to prepare thoughtful responses that outline concrete solutions,” says the obstetrician/gynecologist at Kootenay Lake Hospital since 2003. “We hope to have the candidates touch upon elder care, child and youth services, mental health and acute services [emergency and surgical care] for the riding of Nelson-Creston.”
Also a researcher with the Center of Rural Health Research, Moola’s work in Nelson was featured on CBC’s White Coat Black Art series, along with the midwives and family physicians, as an outstanding example of collaborative rural medicine.
“We recognize that robust, accessible and safe medical care is the backbone of many rural communities. These health services also provide an economic magnet to attract and maintain businesses and to keep our elders and young people in the community,” says Moola.
Pointing to the loss of local general surgical program in Nelson over a decade ago as the source of problems continuing today, Moola says the real two-tier health care system is about urban compared to rural service.
“Where you live and where you get sick can have profound impacts on one’s access to care and health outcomes. At present only 14 per cent of British Columbians live rurally, though in this riding it is greater than 50 per cent,” he says. “That is why I feel it is so important to recognize the health care challenges facing our communities.”
The health care forum will be held at the Hume Hotel from 7 to 9 p.m. It is sponsored by the Nelson Area Health Society (NASH), the Community First Health Co-op, the Kootenay Food Co-op and Kootenay Co-op Radio.