By John Horgan
Strong public healthcare ensures that everyone, no matter how much money they make, or where they live, is able to access lifesaving care.
That’s the vision that Canada’s New Democrats – under Tommy Douglas – fought for and won half a century ago. Unfortunately, here in British Columbia over the last decade and a half, access to health care has been crumbling.
I recently traveled with B.C. New Democrat leader John Horgan to communities like Merritt, Ashcroft, Logan Lake, Kamloops, Quesnel and Prince George. People told us that they rely on walk-in clinics and Emergency Rooms for medical care because they can’t get a family doctor. They aren’t alone. At least a quarter million of British Columbians have no access to a family doctor. Care in these walk-in clinics is limited – and many close their doors by noon after taking in a certain number of appointments.
Throughout BC, a lack of access to family doctors and nurse practitioners, crowded emergency rooms and hallway medicine have left many feeling like our health care system isn’t delivering. It’s worse in small and rural communities where emergency rooms may be closed and residents can wait six weeks or more to see a doctor.
Imagine how it feels to show up at the emergency room with a family member in need only to be greeted by a “closed” sign. This is the reality people in Logan Lake have been living with for the past 17 months. They can drive to Ashcroft 45 minutes away – only to find that the ER there is closed several days a week. Then they have get back on the highway and travel to Kamloops to find an open hospital over an hour away.
When it comes to specialist care, not only do families outside of the lower mainland have to travel long distances to get the health care they need, they often have to pay the costs for medical travel out of pocket. If their child needs tests that aren’t offered in the community they live in, they have to take time off work, then pay to travel and stay in another community. Families tell us this is a huge hardship when they already have tight budgets.
What is even more frustrating is that the B.C. Liberals are wasting precious health care dollars while at the same time denying British Columbians health care where and when they need it.
The Auditor General just released a report showing the B.C. Liberals have wasted $115 million dollars on another failed computer system. Instead of keeping emergency rooms open, hiring nurses and ensuring everyone has access to family doctors, the B.C. Liberals are throwing money away on failed computer systems.
In total, the B.C. Liberals have spent almost a billion dollars on failed and broken computer systems since they became government. That’s nearly two dollars for every second they have been in government – wasted on failed computer systems.
BC families deserve better than they are getting from this government. We should be investing in the innovations we need to keep public health care strong such as team-based care, specialized public surgical clinics and improved access in rural communities. These innovations have all been tested and proven to work in other provinces and here in BC.
John Horgan and the B.C. New Democrats know how important health care is to you and your family, and we’ll continue fighting for the health care you need and deserve.