Dan Fumano: Health minister leaves B.C. municipal leaders disappointed

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Well being Minister Adrian Dix says B.C. has been in a health-care disaster since at the least the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, acknowledges pressing want for change.

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WHISTLER — Standing earlier than a packed room of elected municipal officers from round B.C., Well being Minister Adrian Dix delivered a speech Tuesday with no new guarantees or particular plans to deal with the province’s health-care challenges.

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Dix delivered one of many most-anticipated speeches Tuesday on the annual convention of the Union of B.C. Municipalities on the Whistler Convention Centre, with regards to “re-envisioning well being care.”

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Communities of all sizes round B.C. are going through myriad health-care challenges — emergency room closures, ambulance service interruptions, nursing shortages, a rising variety of individuals unable to search out household physicians, and two long-running public well being crises: the drug overdose disaster and the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Tuesday’s session, delegates additionally heard how municipalities huge and small are additionally having hassle recruiting and retaining health-care employees due to shortages of housing and daycare.

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Most of the delegates had hoped that Dix’s speech may embody particular new modifications or plan of action. As an alternative, the session ended abruptly with many municipal officers unable to ask their questions.

In his speech, Dix acknowledged the pressing challenges going through B.C., and spoke of the “want to remodel the health-care system.” However he additionally emphasised successes, and struck a extra constructive tone than the municipal officers who spoke.

Dix mentioned 38,000 web new employees have been added to the well being system in B.C. since he turned well being minister in 2017, and he is aware of extra employees are wanted. “You already know what everybody on this room is saying to themselves proper now? Not sufficient.”

Dix says the variety of individuals with out a household physician has grown from about 340,000 in 2003 to 908,000 in 2017 and is anticipated to be larger this 12 months.

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He mentioned the B.C. authorities is working to enhance compensation for docs and improve recruitment and retention practices.

The session allowed barely 10 minutes for municipal representatives to ask the minister questions. From the lineups at microphones across the room, it was clear there have been many extra questions than the allotted time would enable.

Clearwater Mayor Merlin Blackwell advised the group his group’s hospital emergency room has skilled 60 closures to this point this 12 months.

Blackwell mentioned he has heard tales of residents ready in ache for hours for his or her native ER to open.

“That is the place we’re at.”

Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman mentioned many mayors and councillors had hoped Tuesday’s session would come with some bulletins about tangible new actions to enhance health-care, particularly in long-struggling rural areas.

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“I do know for a truth, we anticipated it,” Ackerman mentioned. “What actions are going to occur, let’s get some specifics. … We don’t want any extra bulletins, we want motion.”

She mentioned she was dissatisfied.

“We didn’t even get an opportunity to ask about it,” Ackerman mentioned. “Proper now, we don’t know there’s a lightweight on the finish of the tunnel.”

Vancouver Coun. Pete Fry, chair of UBCM’s well being and social growth committee, mentioned later that COVID “uncovered and exacerbated flaws within the health-care system that we’re seeing within the disaster at present.”

Fry was glad to listen to Dix say the present second presents alternative for reform, “to satisfy the wants of British Columbians and hold them out of our emergency and hospital beds by proactively addressing their wants,” he mentioned.

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“To place it extra bluntly, if we’re fishing our bodies out of the river downstream, we have to go upstream and work out why they’re falling in within the first place,” Fry mentioned.

“I admire Dix delivered an acknowledgment of the issue and the potential repair — now we have to see the price range and the motion.”

With recordsdata from The Canadian Press

dfumano@postmedia.com

twitter.com/fumano

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