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Opinion  

Horgan on health care

Too many people in B.C can’t find a family doctor, or are forced to wait long hours in emergency rooms in the evenings and on weekends to access the care they need.

We’re getting to work to fix the problems and deliver better health care for people. 

At the heart of our strategy is a new focus on primary care that puts patients back at the centre of health-care delivery. Urgent primary care, team-based care networks, and community health centres will work together to give you the health care you need. 

To help patients access more efficient care, our government is opening 10 urgent primary care centres across the province in the next 12 months. Primary care is the health care you need first. The new urgent primary care centres will be open evenings and weekends, and will help you get the one-on-one health care you need with the support of a full team.

We’re establishing primary care networks around the province so that doctors, nurse practitioners and counsellors all work together to provide quality care, for you, for your whole life. This team-based care will also help free up family doctors, so they can take on new patients. 

The primary care networks will be rolled out in at least 15 communities over the next year, and across 70 per cent of B.C. communities over the next three years. That means people in places like Prince George, Comox, and Burnaby will get the care they need closer to home. We’ve also provided funding for up to 200 general practitioners, 200 nurse practitioners, and 50 clinical pharmacists to work in the new team-based care model. 

We understand people and communities in B.C. have unique health needs. That’s why we’re supporting new community health centres to bring together health and social services in a single place. This will make it easier for people to see public and community nurses, mental health and addiction counsellors, speech therapists, nutritionists, and more. 

Our government is also working hard to get patients better and faster access to surgeries. A new hip and knee replacement program will increase the number of surgeries performed. To reduce waitlists and backlogs, we’ve added 4,500 extra surgeries around the province in 2018. Our government has also boosted the number of MRI exams, 37,000 more MRIs will be completed this year. 

To improve hospitals throughout the province, we’ve committed to build a new hospital in Surrey, a new patient-care tower at the Richmond Hospital, a new hospital for people in Terrace, and hospital redevelopments in Cariboo, Comox Valley, and Penticton. 

Quality health care should not add financial burden to your life. Our government is working to reduce fees and make sure health care is affordable and accessible for everyone in B.C. One of the first steps we took as government was to cut MSP premiums by 50 per cent as of January 2018, and we will eliminate them completely by 2020. This saves families up to $1,800 per year and individuals $900 per year. 

Recently, we expanded insulin pump coverage, so any British Columbian who needs one to manage diabetes will have access under PharmaCare. And to make sure that people can afford the prescription medicines they need – regardless of income – we eliminated PharmaCare deductibles for people with incomes below $30,000, and reduced deductibles for people with incomes below $45,000. 

Good health is the foundation for a good life. These are the first steps. There’s more to come. We’re going to keep working for you, to deliver the health care you’ve been waiting for, and make life better for people in B.C. 

​Premier John Horgan

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