More than 5,000 people signed a petition agreeing to a contribution agreement with the Columbia Shuswap Regional District that would result in a new tax for Electoral Area F providing annual funding for the North Shuswap Health Centre. (File photo)

More than 5,000 people signed a petition agreeing to a contribution agreement with the Columbia Shuswap Regional District that would result in a new tax for Electoral Area F providing annual funding for the North Shuswap Health Centre. (File photo)

Proposed tax agreement would see annual funding for North Shuswap Health Centre

Columbia Shuswap Regional District staff to determine public assent process

A new tax has been proposed for the North Shuswap to support delivery of health services within the electoral area.

At their Oct. 21 board meeting, Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) directors were supportive of a request from the North Shuswap Health Centre for a contribution agreement that would provide the centre funding through an annual contribution tax.

In a letter to the board, health centre executive director Gail McNeil Oliver explained the Scotch Creek facility receives 4,600 patient visits yearly, but adds that number is growing along with the community.

“We see the continued growth in the North Shuswap with the addition of 500 new patients in the last six months… adding to our active registered patient panel of 3,000 patients,” said Oliver.

Oliver noted a related petition received more than 5,000 signatures in favour of the proposed contribution agreement.

Electoral Area F director Jay Simpson echoed Oliver’s comment regarding the level of public support that already exists for proposed service.

Read more: North Shuswap health centre pleads for government funding

Read more: Column: Local government has role in rural health care

“Having something in the community is a critical and vital tool for economic development, the community’s social system – for just community health in general,” said Simpson.

CSRD chief administrative officer Charles Hamilton offered caution around setting public expectation by taking on services offloaded by the B.C. government, but said said he supported Oliver’s request going forward. However, he noted it wouldn’t be on the tax roles in 2022 as there’s an approval process to go through requiring electoral assent as well as other steps.

“Moving forward, I’d really like to see kind of a time frame for the actions that need to happen in order to get this through to voter assent and into that tax system so the health centre can plan around that…,” said Simpson.

According to the CSRD, these details, along with the proposed taxpayer costs and the type of of community assent process to be used, will be developed by staff and brought back to the board as part of its 2022 work plan.

The North Shuswap Health Centre is a community owned and operated facility. It provides a shared clinic program with regular physicians and contract doctors, as well as other health services including bi-weekly lab services.


lachlan@saobserver.net
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Columbia Shuswap Regional District