With the federal and provincial health ministers meeting this week, opening up new opportunities to improve health care, British Columbians are left to hope that Christy Clark’s government will not repeat its failures to support public health care.
The premier has held various positions on health care funding – including essentially encouraging of the federal government to cut transfers for B.C. by tying health care funding increases to GDP. She recently came to the conclusion that funding formulas that don’t take into account B.C.’s aging demographic are unfair to our province.
Failing B.C. seniors
The Christy Clark government has failed on senior care. The seniors advocate last year said nearly one in six seniors were incorrectly housed, with a chief concern being insufficient home care. Thousands of acute care hospital beds across B.C. are being occupied by seniors who need residential care beds which remain in short supply. Changes to the funding formula would be ineffective unless they are tied to a proper foundation of home care and residential care – and to proper standards.
Half-measures on national pharmacare
Christy Clark’s government has refused to acknowledge that most British Columbians don’t have their medications covered by the B.C. medical plan. Thousands of people in this province are forced to make unacceptable choices every day about whether they can pay for medically-necessary drugs or buy the groceries that they and their families need. It is good news that the federal government is expressing a willingness to engage with all provinces on a national pharmacare strategy and recognizes the benefit of economies of scale on bulk buying, but much more needs to be done to make prescription drugs affordable for all British Columbians. A national pharmacare program is a glaring hole in our public health care system, and British Columbia should be advocating for it, instead of being satisfied with half measures.
Lost time on end-of-life care
More than a year ago, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Canadian criminal code laws dealing with assisted dying were unconstitutional and gave the federal government a year to come up with new laws. While the laws are federal, the regulations surrounding how the new law would be administered fall to the provinces. The Select Standing Committee on Health heard hundreds of submissions last year and presented a report in the legislature, but bowing to an extreme minority, Christy Clark’s government refused to adopt the report. This means B.C. has lost crucial months in preparation. By contrast, Ontario has begun to work on those regulations, even as Ottawa is crafting its new legislation.
Quote: New Democrat health spokesperson, Judy Darcy:
“Christy Clark’s record on health care is one of half-measures, broken promises and missed opportunities. B.C.’s patients have paid the price, in some cases waiting in pain for needed surgeries and in some cases going without care because they can’t afford it.