BC Budget continues crucial investment in health care services

BC 2021 Budget continues crucial investment in health care services

Investments in long-term care and increasing surgical capacity are crucial but key priorities remain unaddressed

The BC Health Coalition is pleased to see continued investments in today’s provincial budget to health care services and infrastructure that improve the lives of seniors and support the positive impact of team-based primary care on the health of BC residents. As we face a third COVID-19 pandemic wave, these investments ensure British Columbians can continue to rely on our public health care system.

The BC Health Coalition is encouraged that Budget 2021 includes funding to increase surgical capacity to reduce the time patients are waiting for their surgeries.

“It is immensely gratifying to see $495 million invested in increasing surgical capacity,” says Edith MacHattie, BC Health Coalition co-chair. However, we are concerned that surgeries continue to be contracted to private clinics. It remains unclear how much of that public funding will go into profits instead of investing in our public system for the future."

Budget 2021 also highlighted the investment in long-term care including funding to recruit health care workers and increasing capacity through the addition of new LTC beds.

“Many seniors, their loved ones, and care workers have faced the highest costs of this pandemic,” says MacHattie. “We were hoping to see a capital plan that expands the capacity of public and non-profit facilities through new builds, increasing available long-term care beds and ending our reliance on the for-profit sector." Research evidence shows that not-for-profit care homes deliver superior quality care.

The Budget showed the government’s support for team-based primary care through urgent and primary care centres (UPCCs). However, there was no clear mention of Community Health Centres, which are an interdisciplinary, team-based and community-governed model that is used in BC, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and internationally. Community Health Centres are already meeting important needs in BC including preventative care and helping patients manage chronic disease including the long-term potential impacts of COVID-19. Now more than ever, we need funding that ensures flexibility and provides support to communities to create new Community Health Centres that respond to their needs.

“BC Health Coalition members look forward to seeing the government clarify their financial support of Community Health Centres” says MacHattie. “Unlike UPCCs, Community Health Centres are developed by, governed by, and responsive to the needs of communities. They have been shown to increase people’s access to primary and mental health care providers and address the upstream determinants of health that can reduce pressure on more expensive hospital services.”

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.