British Columbians deserve health care that responds to their needs

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Judy Darcy Minister of Mental Health and Addictions
Judy Darcy New Democrat Official Opposition spokesperson for health
Judy Darcy
New Democrat Official Opposition spokesperson for health

By Judy Darcy

New Democrat Official Opposition spokesperson for health

British Columbians deserve a public health care system that responds to their needs. But under the Christy Clark government, many British Columbians are finding that the care they need isn’t there for them – unless they’re willing to pay for it.

In the past month, I have been hearing from two sets of British Columbians who have to fight with their government to get the type of care they deserve.

The first is seniors and their families. We spent a week in the legislature detailing all the ways in which seniors in publicly funded residential care facilities have been left behind by the Clark government.

The minimum standard of care in these facilities is for each resident to have 3.36 hours of direct care per day. A review done by the seniors advocate revealed that 82 per cent of the facilities in British Columbia don’t meet that minimum standard.

That’s an unacceptable number, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Because of the insufficient funding put forward by the Christy Clark government, we’ve heard that some seniors are being awakened for breakfast at 6 a.m. and then left to wait for hours before their meal is actually ready. In other cases, someone’s mother, or grandfather, or loved one, has been left waiting in the bathroom because there aren’t enough staff in the facility to make sure someone is waiting with them.

The other factor that came out in the advocate’s report was that many seniors are being medicated because of this under-staffing. Doctors call it “chemical restraint;” seniors being given antipsychotics because the staff don’t have enough time to actually look after the residents.

Your parents, grandparents and loved ones deserve better than the care they’re getting from the Christy Clark government.

Unfortunately, young British Columbians are also finding their medical needs aren’t being met.

This week, I took park in a media conference with a group of young British Columbians who are living with Type 1 diabetes. The group is called Young and T1 and they are asking why the provincial Pharmacare program won’t cover a device that their doctors consider medically necessary.

Insulin pumps regulate blood sugar levels. Currently, only patients 25 and under are covered for insulin pumps, which can cost as much as $7,000. Alberta and Ontario cover the full cost of these pumps for patients whose doctors have recommended them.

The insulin pumps are better for many patients at regulating blood sugar than injections and can prevent more serious complications, including vision loss, kidney failure, amputations and even death.

The Young and T1 group is launching their petition drive, with hardcopies being distributed by members across the province, and online hosted by the New Democrat caucus website, here: http://bcndpcaucus.ca/government-b-c-cover-cost-medically-necessary-insulin-pumps/

They will also be taking to social media, using the #fairhealthcarebc hashtag on Twitter and Facebook.

British Columbians want to live healthy and productive lives. They would obviously prefer to not have to use the health care system unless they absolutely have to.

But both for young and old, British Columbians, you deserve to know that when you need it, your public health care system will be there for you, to provide comprehensive, dignified care for all your health needs.

Sadly, as these two examples show, that just isn’t the case under the Christy Clark government.

John Horgan and the B.C. New Democrats will continue to work to make public health care work for all British Columbians.