Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes says she will remember 2022 as one of the more challenging ones for residents.
“I think every year has its challenges, from the wildfires in 2017-2018, you have the floods in 2019-2020, but I thin 2022 has been the most difficult year. It was a year of significant challenges with our healthcare system. The stories that are emerging are heart breaking.”
Oakes says she has seen challenges that we haven’t previously seen in the community.
“From diagnostic delays to surgery delays to challenges with our hospital. At the heart of everything is the challenges that we’re having with labour shortage and the pressures that are being put on all systems, from heath care to education and to protective services, you name it.”
Oakes says she has also seen the inequities between urban and rural magnified in 2022.
“I still think the challenge that we have is Victoria doesn’t understand rural BC. Here is a perfect example, working on a number of files currently even around land lines. We have a number of land lines that are out throughout the Cariboo right now and for many people that is your only option. You don’t have cell service, you don’t have internet connectivity, so whether you need to call an ambulance or you name it.”
Oakes says rural residents face different pressures than on the Lower Mainland.
“From home heating to just the fact that it’s not like you can take transit everywhere in the region to get to your job. You need to utilize a vehicle.”
She acknowledges however, that the Lower Mainland has different issues and challenges.
On a positive note, Oakes says she has noticed a number of exciting projects that have been years in the making.
“From the expansion of the hospital to the new school at Maple Drive, to affordable housing to new fire halls and expansion of community centers, I mean these are all projects that are so important to the region and have taken years of effort by many, many people to get over the finish line.”