BC 2023 Budget continues crucial investment in public health care services

Vancouver, February 28, 2023 - The BC Health Coalition is encouraged to see the government’s increased health care investments in the 2023 provincial budget. Without increased investment, the public health care system cannot rise up to meet the challenges of British Columbians seeking better health care, overburdened health care workers, investor-owned corporations exploiting patients and taxpayers.

Recognizing that “allowing those with money to buy their way to the front of the line won’t fix the health-care system for the rest of us”, the provincial government has committed to making investments in key health care areas such as the creation of over 1,700 new health care positions to help ease the barriers many people in British Columbia are experiencing.

However, concerns remain about the continuation of a primary care strategy that prioritizes doctors over team-based and community approaches and treatment and recovery over harm reduction in dealing with the toxic drug supply crisis, as well as the lack of investment in health care for seniors.

Today, the government announced it is investing $1.1 billion to help implement a new payment model for doctors. This new payment model recognizes that doctors work best when given the flexibility to provide the care their patients need. At the same time, primary care needs in BC extend beyond a family doctor. BC needs investment into Community Health Centres (CHCs) that provide an interdisciplinary, team-based model of primary care. With British Columbians struggling to access primary care, CHCs are already meeting important needs in BC, including preventative care and helping patients manage chronic disease. “Without solutions like Community Health Centres that address the root cause of the issues in the primary health care crisis, band-aid solutions will continue to provide only brief respite from the many challenges BC residents face in accessing ongoing primary care”, says Tuesday Andrich, BC Health Coalition co-chair.

Budget 2023 also included an $867 million investment into mental health and addiction services with 67% of that funding going to expanding treatment and recovery approaches. Increased investment to deal with BC’s toxic drug crisis that is taking thousands of lives every year is welcome, but standards need to be in place to ensure an evidence-based approach to treatment. These standards should recognize the need to provide multiple medical treatment options, such as safe supply, as well as ensure treatment is consensual. The BC Health Coalition is strongly against a treatment approach that sees public money for treatment land in for-profit hands where standards around staffing or treatment approaches may not be regulated or evidence-based.

The budget also included capital funding for new long-term care facilities. Another positive step but no significant investment was made to improving access to publicly-funded home support for seniors. This is a missed opportunity for the BC. “We know that seniors prefer to age at home. And this preference makes more sense from an economic standpoint, in addition to a health outcomes standpoint,” says Andrich. “Studies show that home support saves taxpayers on average $29,860 compared to long-term beds.”

About the BC Health Coalition

The BC Health Coalition is a democratic, inclusive, and consensus - based community of individuals and organizations that advocate for evidence-based improvements to the public health care system, stimulate public education on health care issues, and drive positive change to the health care system through campaigns across the province. 

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For more information contact:

Usman Mushtaq, BC Health Coalition Coordinator, 604.379.3600 (cell), [email protected]