NDP remains silent after 30-month-long closure of Elkford emergency department

ELKFORD (March 28, 2024) – Tomorrow, March 29, 2024, will mark 30 months since Interior Health announced the temporary closure of Elkford Health Centre’s emergency department and despite patients’ suffering and the community’s pleas for help, there has been no communication from David Eby’s NDP government on when the emergency department will be reopened.

“This situation is unacceptable. For over two and a half years residents of Elkford have had to travel upwards of 45 minutes just to get to the nearest emergency department, adding this extra time is extremely inconvenient and outright dangerous,” said Tom Shypitka, BC United MLA for Kootenay East. “This NDP government seems to be content with letting a rural ER remain ‘temporarily’ closed for over two years while leaving us in the dark about its reopening. The people of Elkford are beyond frustrated and are demanding to know at what point a temporary closure becomes a permanent abandonment of providing their community access to emergency care.”

Elkford is not alone when it comes to emergency room disruptions. Communities across British Columbia are also struggling with extensive closures, placing immense pressure on neighbouring ambulance services. The Minister of Health promised in early 2023 that the Elkford emergency department would reopen by July, but nearly a year later, the community has heard nothing. For Elkford, a mining town reliant on emergency medical services, not having an ER has been devastating for the community and the NDP’s failure to address this delay has only increased their concerns.

“This government continues to drag its feet on recruiting doctors and nurses to staff emergency rooms across the province, leaving rural communities to suffer the most,” added Shypitka. “As the healthcare crisis in British Columbia deepens, it’s unacceptable for residents, whether in rural areas or not, to be forced into extensive travel just to receive medical care. After seven years, this NDP government has shown its inability to deliver results, even when lives are at stake.”