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Budget 2018: Smart investments in public health care

Budget 2018

Today, the B.C. government released the 2018 Budget with a number of smart investments in public health care.

Let’s be clear.

It was you—and thousands of other British Columbians—who made today happen.

You took action during the provincial election and kept up the pressure with the new government.

Some of today’s investments are years in the making—from seniors organizing to win reinvestment in the services you rely on, to coalition members going door-to-door in your communities to build support for these commitments in the current government’s election platform, to your recent submissions to government about how to scrap the MSP fee and how to raise the revenue fairly.

And now, we have a budget plan that will make life more affordable for British Columbians and put quality care within reach for many more across the province.

From new investments in seniors care to replacing MSP revenue in a fair way, there is much to celebrate.

Here are a few highlights:

Investing in Seniors Care

Today’s budget provides $548 million for seniors care over three years, including funds for residential care, where the majority of public homes are currently understaffed.

This investment will begin to repair many years of neglect of seniors care services. Today, seniors have less access to publicly funded home and community care services—including home care, assisted living, and residential care—than in 2001.

Making Fair PharmaCare More Affordable

The budget also includes $105 million in funding toward eliminating or reducing deductibles for prescription drugs for poor and working class individuals and families.

The funding will provide relief for many seniors and families who struggle to afford to fill their prescriptions and is a critical step toward a healthier province.

Eliminating MSP Premiums

You told the province to fully eliminate MSP premiums sooner. And today, the province committed to do just that and completely eliminate MSP premiums by January 2020.

Premiums will save families $1,800 per year, and individuals $900 per year—money that will go a long way in paying for essential needs like groceries, transportation, and housing.

You also told the province that MSP revenues need to replaced in a fair and progressive way.

The province responded by announcing a new employer tax, a fair way to replace part of the premium revenue.

Again, you helped make this happen.

The interim MSP Task Force report notes over 1500 individual submissions and 26 group submissions, of which BC Health Coalition individual members submitted 1508 and member organizations submitted over a dozen.

It will be important for the province to ensure that the remaining revenue is fully replaced via measures based on the forthcoming final report from the MSP Task Force.

That's not all. The budget includes a number of other investments including:

  • The new Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions invested with $322 million over the next three years to support shifting from emergency response to a longer-terms proactive and preventative strategy.
  • $150 million over three years to expand coverage of primary care providers to expand access to team-based care to those not currently able access care.
  • $16 million over two years for the First Nations Health Authority to support mental health and wellness.
  • $3.1 billion for health construction projects, upgrades to facilities, medical and diagnostic equipment, and information management technology systems.
  • For years BC has had the dubious distinction of being the one of the lowest investors in health care of any of the provinces.  Today’s budget starts to reverse that trend by increasing Ministry of Health’s operating budget by more than $1.5 billion over the next three years.

Click here to read the full 2018 Budget.

Today’s budget makes historic investments in a childcare plan and affordable housing—two important areas closely linked with social determinants of health that will have far-reaching impacts on people’s lives.

However, there is still a lot of work to be done. And we need your help to continue organizing to strengthen the public health care system we all rely on when we need it.

Will you support our ongoing work? We rely on the support of people like you to strengthen our public health care system.

Click here to contribute a one-time or monthly donation to support the grassroots level organizing of the BC Health Coalition.

With gratitude,

Adam and Nat

BC Health Coalition staff