Using a playground as a backdrop and child poverty as motivation, former City councillor Nancy Bepple confirmed her candidacy Tuesday for the NDP nomination in Kamloops-South.
On the surface, Kamloops may appear to be OK, but people don’t have to look far to see underlying social and health-care problems, Bepple said.
“One in five kids in Kamloops lives in poverty,” she said. “Poverty is a provincial issue. I’m running in Kamloops-South Thompson because I want to work with a government that wants to end child poverty.”
Bepple supports a $15 an hour minimum wage as a means of “getting the working poor out of food bank lineups, into grocery store lineups and buying their own bread.” One in three people who rely on the Kamloops Food Bank is a child, she noted.
With a background in computing science, Bepple works in the career education department at TRU and intends to take a leave of absence if she wins the nomination vote, which is expected in December. The nomination may be contested by a second New Democrat who has not yet declared.
Bepple holds the B.C. Liberal government accountable for that poverty as well as for the lineups seen outside walk-in clinics in the city.
“Four years from now, I want to look at the kids playing in this park and know that they aren’t hungry, their parents have a living wage, and they can see their family doctor when they need to.”
At least one in nine city residents does not have a family doctor and the city is short 19 GPs, she added. Provincially, only 300 students are admitted to medical school each year for all of B.C. Since only about half will become GPs, that amounts to three new GPs per year.
“How many of you expect your physician to retire in the next three years? You’re about to join the line outside the walk-in clinic … We all pay MSP, but some of us are not being given reasonable access to health care.”
She said she wants to push for nurse practitioner training at TRU and funding for nurse practitioner salaries, since there is currently only one practicing in the province.