As our community continues to try to cope with repeated emergency room closures and other health care challenges, frustration has been building as the government seems content to wait for longer-term results when in fact, we need urgent relief now.

Last December, I wrote to Health Minister Adrian Dix to reiterate our community’s concerns about ER closures. His reply arrived four months later and, in that time, we saw eight more shutdowns of our ER. Disappointingly, his reply letter simply outlined the government’s many health care announcements, most of which will take a long time to bear fruit. A laundry list of announcements provides little reassurance to residents who are faced with the stress of travelling to access medical care.

People are rightfully fed up and have taken to the streets of Merritt to rally for better health care, hoping to finally be heard. I also presented a petition of more than 8,000 names in the legislature, and hand-delivered it to the minister’s office to ensure the message got through loud and clear.

When I meet with and listen to doctors, nurses and other health care professionals, many of them feel like their calls for urgent help are not being answered in a timely manner. How long can they be expected to work through severe exhaustion and burnout, with no relief in sight?

Everyone is tired. We need more short-term solutions to ensure our emergency room can function optimally and people can access the services they need close to home. We need to relieve the pressure on our health care workers now, not months or years from now. 

We all deserve better.