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In spite of initial management attempts to block them, Peace River South MLA Blair Lekstrom and Dawson Creek city councillor Marilyn Belak were able to see firsthand the effects of cutbacks at Dawson Creek and District Hospital while touring the facility last week.

BCs Hospital Employees Union (HEU) had invited the local representatives to tour departments at the hospital that have or are going to suffer cutbacks: the operating room, labs, admitting, dietary and laundry departments and material management.

Local chair Doris Gripich says, We wanted them to see what front line health care workers actually do on the job and to be able to talk to them about how the cuts are affecting our work and the running of the hospital.

The initial response from hospital management when informed of the tour was, No way. But after negotiations, the politicians were allowed in.

To underscore the need for more not less workers, the union had supplied an extra worker in the dietary department to help clean up.

We wanted to show that cutbacks in that department have meant that cleanup procedures have suffered, says Gripich. We were saying, This is what it should look like.

The tour was part of efforts by HEU members around the province to make the public aware of how government cutbacks will affect the delivery of health care and how the loss of jobs will impact their communities.