Christina Gower is the NDP candidate for Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam, as well as a pychiatric nurse at Royal Columbian hospital.
With her experience, Gower says she doesn't need talking points to talk about health care.
Who is Christina Gower?
Lives in Port Coquitlam
Found her passion helping vulnerable people in her 30s and has spent the past eight years working at psychiatric liaison nurse at a variety of facilities around the Lower Mainland. She now works at Royal Columbian Hospital.
Says government needs to spend money to save money
Christina Gower In Profile
When Christina Gower talks about mental health issues facing Canadians, she doesn't need to rely on party talking points.
The NDP candidate for Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam has spent the last eight years working as a psychiatric liaison nurse at a variety of facilities around the Lower Mainland. She is currently based at Royal Columbian Hospital and said she has seen first hand the damage budget cuts can have on the wellbeing of vulnerable people
"In business, you have to spend money to make money," she said. "In government, you have to spend money to save money. When you start pulling services like what the Conservatives want to do… it ends up costing society more."
For example, she said that because of the housing affordability crisis, health care workers struggle with discharging patients who often have nowhere safe to go. That means they end up staying in a hospital bed longer than may be necessary at a cost of approximately $1,500 per day, money Gower said could be reduced if more affordable housing was provided.
"If you let them go and be homeless, you undo all the health care you have just provided them," she said, later adding: "They end up getting care the most expensive way possible."
Gower has also seen the health care system from the patient's point of view. In her 20s, she broke her back in a ski accident and spent five years recovering and rehabilitating. She said she has lived with chronic pain and nerve issues ever since.
As part of her recovery, she got into cycling and was riding up to 300 km a week. But while driving to a cycling trip on the Gulf Islands, she was involved in a head-on collision that set her back again and forced her to restart the rehabilitation process.
After spending so much time in doctors' offices, the last place Gower thought she would like to work is in the health care industry.
But a career exploration course she took when she was 36 helped her focus in on what she wanted to do with her life. Gower said she was drawn to psychiatric nursing because she wanted to help people and thought she could be an effective advocate for vulnerable members of society.
"I was determined," she said. "There was no dilly-dallying. I drove to Douglas College and I actually got in a course that night."
The environment is also an important issue for Gower, who said she has been involved with Greenpeace since 1991 — "before it was cool." She has advocated for domestic and wild animals ever since and said she is the "proud mother of two dogs."
Gower took part in protesting the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion on Burnaby Mountain, providing supplies and firewood to Camp Cloud while driving those who had been arrested to their court appearances.
When she was approached last year about running for the NDP, she first resisted the idea, she said, because she was worried that party discipline would muzzle her activism.
But after familiarizing herself with the party platform, she decided to run, believing that her core beliefs are aligned with the party and that she could be a strong advocate for the Tri-Cities.
"Nobody is going to get my message out better than me," she said, later adding: "We can't keep voting the same way and expect anything to change. We need to change how we vote."
Christina Gower in 3 minutes
Learn more about Gower
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Dan Iova, Veterans Coalition
Ronald Spornicu, People’s Party