I have had the privilege of serving as MLA since 2009. I initially decided to run because I wanted to use my 30 years of experience in medicine and health-care management to serve the people of Vancouver-Langara and British Columbia.
What a learning curve this has been! I’ve enjoyed almost every minute of it, and believe there is much more we can do to keep British Columbia strong.
My focus over the past term has been three-fold: community, education, and health care.
I believe that success starts at home, and depends on ensuring a strong, inclusive, and vibrant community. Working with Vancouver-Langara residents, I have:
- Supported local settlement services, so that newcomers to B.C. can access assistance as they integrate more easily with Canadian society;
- Been a voice for fiscal responsibility, including supporting balanced budgets; and,
- Invested in local economic development and infrastructure (Langara College upgrades, improvements at Van Dusen Gardens).
Working with stakeholders and educators across the province, we’ve begun to create a learning culture that values science, math, and engineering. We have a looming skill shortage in the province, and we need to ensure our children are getting the skills they need to pursue the jobs of tomorrow. It is why I started the Year of Science: to fund programs that encourage children to foster a passion for discovery and knowledge.
Another significant concern is ensuring the cost of postsecondary education isn’t prohibitive. I have created a plan to reduce student loan interest rates. I believe they can be brought down to prime plus one. This will help decrease the financial burden of postsecondary education, which in turn will also help secure a knowledge-based economy. If I am re-elected, I will work hard to turn this plan into a reality.
During my time as MLA, I have kept up my practice as a nuclear medicine physician. Medicine will always be my first love, and my knowledge as a health-care manager and physician has proven critical to my success in advocating for my constituents. Prior to running for office, I volunteered with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. I advocated for policy changes in screening that lead to faster diagnosis of breast cancer, which in turn improved outcomes, decreased costs and saved lives.
I know firsthand that the status quo of health care isn’t sustainable. We need to be innovative. We need more “system” in our health-care programs. We need to provide better and more comprehensive services to our sickest patients, so we can improve outcomes and reduce costs.
We do excellent work in B.C. when it comes to providing trauma care. We are world leaders in HIV/AIDS, and cancer care and control. But we can and need to do more for those with chronic diseases.
A poorly managed chronic disease multiplies until the patient has many. Then, they spend time in emergency rooms, acute care beds, and eventually long-term care beds. All of these services are amongst the most expensive we provide.
We need to identify those patients who are costing our system the most, and spend more money on them up front. There are a number of studies (Denmark, the U.K.) where people are having success doing just that. By spending more—initially—on the people who are using the system the most, overall costs were reduced and overall health increased.
We’ve started to work on this: by introducing nurse practitioners, by looking at primary care reform, and by increasing collaborative care. With your support on May 14, we can build on our successes.