We can rescue BC's public healthcare system

BC's healthcare system should be public, accessible, and reliable.

But decades of neglect and bad decisions from BC Liberal and BC NDP governments have eroded healthcare. It's essentially impossible to get a family doctor. Mental healthcare is almost non-existent. And corporations are filling the gaps, offering "premium" services for outrageous fees.

The BC Greens are working hard to get the government to take notice and act. With your help, we can fix the gaping holes in our healthcare system. Will you join us?

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The scale of issues facing healthcare in BC is massive. The BC NDP government has made some limited steps toward addressing issues in our public healthcare system. However, in most cases, their efforts have been hindered by a lack of vision and urgency. This has meant that public health outcomes have not improved under the BC NDP.

We need urgent action to address the gaps and shortcomings in our healthcare system. This includes getting everyone a family doctor, creating a public mental healthcare system, and introducing harm reduction measures to save lives from the poisoned drug crisis. 

Over the last three years, we have worked with researchers, healthcare providers, professional bodies, advocacy groups and patients to create a map for effective healthcare reform in BC. Read about that work in the sections below, and come back regularly to read about progress and updates.

Robust primary care through community health centres is the best way to ensure British Columbians stay healthy in the first place. Healthcare should be oriented around measurable health outcomes - not money spent, equipment purchased or people hired.

Nearly one million British Columbians don't have a family doctor. When someone doesn't have a family doctor, even simple things like getting prescriptions become difficult. We deserve to have a family doctor who is looking after us. The BC Greens are working hard to get BC back on track.

Frontline workers are often the first to know if there’s an issue in healthcare, and often have solutions based on their experience. Health Authorities and the Ministry of Health need to listen to healthcare workers and build a new internal culture.

We need to re-evaluate health authority structures & spending in BC. Health authorities are overly bureaucratic, with a hyper-focus on systems and processes that get in the way of healthcare. We need to look at how this model can be improved or replaced.

Rates of depression and anxiety are skyrocketing in BC and around the world. In 2020, the UN declared that mental health was a crisis in the making. Yet we have next to no mental healthcare as part of our public system in BC. We need to change that fast.

Every day, six people die from poisoned drugs in our province. We need urgent action to save these lives. This includes working together to create an accessible regulated safe supply of drugs and decriminalizing personal possession of small amounts of drugs.

Health authorities have prioritized risk management over timely and supportive patient care. Archaic computer systems are outsourced to the US. These processes waste the valuable time and resources of healthcare professionals

While the pandemic continues, the BC NDP has shifted its approach from a responsibility for collective public health to individualized responsibility. This approach is having far-reaching consequences for individuals and our society-at-large.

Fixing the healthcare mess

The primary function of government should be to achieve a healthy community with a good quality of life. Full stop. Here in B.C., we are failing to meet that goal. Challenges with our “universal” health care system shine bright on the list of fixable issues.

The first problem is lack of access. One in five British Columbians does not have a primary care physician. These practitioners are the foundation of our system. I could not have been an effective heart surgeon without support from good family doctors. Although the new Physician Master Agreement between Doctors of B.C. and the government is a step in the right direction, it isn’t enough. The mantra of “more, better, faster” isn’t always helpful, and money by itself doesn’t create an improved product or experience or achieve better outcomes. Without setting goals and accountability, calling this new arrangement a success is premature.

Community health centres

In a previous post, I shared how the BC Greens have been protecting healthcare and why privatization isn’t a solution for our ailing universal system.

So, if private healthcare isn’t the answer, what will it take to fix healthcare in BC?

BC Greens have been working on that answer for several years now. There are no easy fixes, but given the right leadership and resources, we can shift the trajectory of public healthcare in BC.

Protecting healthcare from privatization

After months of advocacy, our calls to protect our universal healthcare system have led to real action.

We have been raising serious questions about two-tiered healthcare offered by private, for-profit companies like Telus Health for almost a year.

There is a lot of evidence that they have been charging British Columbians thousands of dollars for basic healthcare when those services are offered (for free) as part of our universal healthcare system.

Furstenau calls on Health Minister to publish report on Telus Health

VICTORIA B.C. – B.C. Green leader Sonia Furstenau has called for Health Minister Adrian Dix to release a report by the B.C. Medical Services Commission on Telus Health’s private, fee-based healthcare programs. The corporation is accused of charging patients for basic healthcare needs, allowing queue-jumping, and contributing to a two-tier healthcare system. The report has been with Minister Dix since June 30, 2022.

Rural healthcare in dire need of support from B.C. government

VICTORIA B.C. – The B.C. Green Party is calling on the B.C. NDP to radically improve support for healthcare in rural B.C., which is facing unique challenges regarding access to a beleaguered and out-dated system. B.C. Green leader Sonia Furstenau and MLA Adam Olsen (Saanich North and the Islands) made the comments at a press conference in Victoria, following the West Kootenays leg of the party’s provincial healthcare tour. Olsen spent four days in Creston, Nelson and the surrounding communities meeting with healthcare professionals on a variety of topics.

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