Federal Liberal Party of Canada candidate for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, Lakhwinder Jhaj, issued a challenge to Incumbent NDP candidate Taylor Bachrach over veterinary issues in northwest B.C. on a campaign stopover in Prince Rupert, Sept. 15.
In an impromptu office visit to The Northern View, Jhaj spoke about issues at the centre of her platform such as veterinary access, housing and healthcare. She said issues are similar in all cities.
Jhaj is visiting the Skeena-Bulkley Valley riding for the first time this week during the 2021 federal election campaign tour.
With mounting stresses on pet-owners in the northwest and with more than 3,000 feral cats in the city, a pet owner herself, Jhaj asked what the NDP have done in their six consecutive terms in office to address the long-standing issue of veterinary care access in the riding.
“If I were elected, this is something I would definitely look into,” Jhaj said. “I challenge the NDP candidate … what have they done? When you elect somebody, you would think that they would be looking after the needs of the community if they live in the community,” she said.
“Don’t they know the needs? What have they done in the past to fix or even bring these issues to light to see if there is a fixable solution. So, that’s what I ask the person who the community elected. I put the question back to him.”
Currently, Jhaj lives in the Lower Mainland but said, if elected, she would move to the northwestern riding of the province, making it her home.
She said that the housing issue in Prince Rupert “is exactly the same as in other communities,” such as in the Lower Mainland, and that her party is working towards getting affordable housing in place, but that will come in time.
“Prince Rupert has become a lively city now and, as people come in, they will start to build. Independent people will start to build. If they can afford to live in a community, building a house is not as challenging,” she said.
Jhaj said she understands the struggle to get through red tape when building a home as she has been trying to get approval to build a house in Abbotsford for more than a year.
“What I would suggest, perhaps people need to go into mobile homes… those do not have requirements of digging underneath [muskeg] and doing all that kind of extra work,” she said.
“The mobile home you can plunk it on a lot of different types of areas … But with mobile homes perhaps in smaller communities like this, that may be the solution,” Lakwinder said.
The type of mobile home she suggested is a prefabricated home manufactured off-site into sections in advance and can be easily shipped and assembled.
In terms of addressing healthcare and the shortage of doctors available in the North, Jhaj said the need could be filled with foreign workers.
“I would personally work towards getting foreign students, that have done their degrees in other countries, to get them (medical) residencies in remote communities where they would sign a contract, at least, a four-year contract,” she said.
She said the medical residents could work on a rotational four-year contract with other students to replace them, so there would be no doctor shortages. She said they would not be paid as much as doctors, but their services would be the same.
The Northern View has reached out to the NDP candidate for comment.
Norman Galimski | Journalist
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