ALREADY struggling with hospital overcrowding, inadequate staffing levels and unacceptable emergency department wait times, B.C.’s health authorities will be hurt further by the Liberals’ reckless B.C. Hydro rate hikes, say New Democrats.

“The cost over two years to just the Interior Health Authority is expected to be more than $650,000,” said New Democrat Health Critic Judy Darcy. “Province-wide, over just the first two years of the rate hike the health care system is looking at a shocking $5 million impact.”

Darcy pointed to the recent suggestion from Education Minister Peter Fassbender that school boards should consider closing schools to fund the shortfall created by the hydro rate hikes, and questioned what it will mean for health authorities.

“Will the health minister come out this week and say we should close emergency rooms or care facilities? Will he suggest that already inadequate staffing levels be reduced?”

New Democrat Energy Critic John Horgan said it is clear the Liberals were not thinking of the economy or families and critical public institutions when they broke their election promise to keep rates low and sprung a hike of 28 per cent over five years on British Columbians.

“In the last 12 years, the B.C. Liberal government has created a crisis at B.C. Hydro. They have overseen skyrocketing debt, stashed billions in deferral accounts in order to show profit where none exists, signed billions of dollars of private power deals and shouldered out the independent utilities commission,” said Horgan.

“Now, ratepayers and people who rely on public services will pay the price for their decade of mismanagement. British Columbians deserve better.”