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Surrey South byelection candidate Q&A: Elenore Sturko

BC Liberal candidate answers five questions for PAN readers
Elenore Sturko is the BC Liberal candidate in the Surrey South byelection. (Contributed photo)

1. What do you consider to be your top priorities for ensuring quality and timely health care for residents in the Surrey South riding?

Inaction by the NDP government has allowed our healthcare system to crumble. For all their talk about working for people, the NDP have remained incapable of stepping up and delivering a coherent plan to address the crisis in primary care. The priority must be to stop the exodus of valuable healthcare employees from our province.

Family doctors must receive greater compensation to reduce their operating costs and have a significant reduction in their administrative burden. To reduce the pressure on family doctors and emergency rooms, we must explore an expansion of the scope of practice for pharmacists to allow them to assess and prescribe medications for routine ailments.

Longer-term solutions must include expanding training spaces for doctors, like the long-promised Surrey SFU medical school, drastically increasing the number of residencies for international medical graduates and reducing barriers for internationally-trained physicians.

There are solutions on the table that need to be taken, there is no time to waste when we are talking about people’s health and wellbeing, and the time to act is long overdue.

2. What projects and approaches would you support to improve transportation, both public and private, for residents of Surrey South (particularly those who commute to their place of employment).

Under the NDP, South Surrey’s access to transit has been grossly under-served. One of the biggest failures has been the cancellation of the George Massey Bridge, which Surrey drivers could have been using this year.

Not only did the NDP’s cancellation of the project waste $100 million of spent taxpayer money, but their proposal for the tunnel replacement costs more, has less capacity, will not accommodate rapid transit, and has yet to pass environmental assessment.

When I talk to voters on the doors, they’ve made it clear, access to transit must be a priority, and if elected I will advocate for safe and effective transit so people can get to work and school.

3. What measures should be taken to ensure that residents of Surrey South can find affordable housing, whether as buyers or renters, and to offset the general rise in the cost of living?

Housing affordability is without a doubt one of the major issues facing the people of Surrey today — and it’s one of the biggest broken promises of this NDP government. In 2017, the NDP promised to build 114,000 units of affordable housing and make life more affordable for British Columbians. Five years later, life is more expensive than ever, housing prices have skyrocketed, and David Eby has managed to build just six per cent of his housing goal, a disappointing 7,219 units. In Surrey, rents are up $225 per month. Just let that sink in, that’s $2,700 more that Surrey residents are paying in rent per year. Housing has never been more expensive in B.C., or right here in Surrey, and unless we get serious about working with municipalities and the private sector, and truly building more supply, affordability will continue to worsen.

4. What measures would you support to address the current toxic drug crisis in B.C. (including Surrey South)?

I have personally seen the tragic impact the toxic drug crisis has had on our community on the front lines as a police officer. People are dying at an alarming rate and it’s deeply disheartening to watch this crisis, which was declared a public health emergency more than six years ago, continue to worsen. We need urgent action, and that’s one of the main reasons I am running to be your MLA. What is needed now more than ever is a coherent, province-wide strategy so when someone reaches out for help, they can immediately get the help they need.

Taking steps to establish an evidence-based continuum of care and have a clear 30-60-90-day urgent plan with ongoing monitoring are just some of the actions that should be taken immediately.

5. What measures would you support to ensure that agricultural land is protected in the Surrey South riding?

In a rapidly growing region like Surrey, it is vital to preserve and promote food security, and as such protecting our agricultural land is essential.

We must ensure that as our city expands, we work to balance its many growing needs.

There is no food without farmers, and we have to make sure that our hard-working local food producers are supported, and their land protected, allowing them to continue providing us with high quality food, and maintaining their farms for future generations.

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