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Merritt mayor threatens to withhold tax money from province amid ER closures

People living in Merritt are being left without access to an emergency room, yet again, this Thanksgiving weekend.

Sunday’s closure marks the fifteenth time the ER has been temporarily shut down in 2023 and the fourth time in October.

Mayor Michael Goetz says the city has done everything it can to curb the closures, but it’s now looking at withholding tax money from the province for each day people in Merritt cannot access emergency care.

“Money talks, and that’s the way it goes. There’s not a lot we can do, and that is one of the things we can do,” Goetz said.

“We’re at 44 per cent nurses here. We need more nurses, the premier announced they had 1,000 nurses ready to go and I sure would like to see some of them up here.”

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Goetz says he’s hoping other mayors experiencing similar temporary closures will follow suit.

According to a notice issued by Interior Health, the Nicola Valley Hospital in Merritt is closed from 8 a.m. Sunday until 8 a.m. Monday due to limited physician availability.

The notice states patients can access care at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, which is approximately an hour’s drive north.

The closure in Merritt follows separate temporary closures in Keremeos, Oliver and New Denver also happening Saturday and Sunday.

CityNews has reached out to the province for comment.

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