December 1, 2023

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‘The people in this province are suffering’: BC Greens launch health-care tour

It is a front-line health check of the province’s health-care system.

BC Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau announced on Thursday she is heading out on a provincial health-care tour to speak to providers, advocates and patients across British Columbia.

The tour comes as more hospital emergency rooms have had to temporarily close their doors and the province’s Urgent and Primary Care Clinics continue to be chronically understaffed.

There are nearly one million British Columbians currently unattached to a family doctor and nearly six people die every day in the province due to illicit drugs.

“We need to build a coalition of health-care advocates across this province,” Furstenau said.

“We will meet with health-care providers and people struggling to access health-care services. We will listen to their stories and learn from them. We will bring their voices back to the legislature louder than ever before.”

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The tour will start next week with stops in Metro Vancouver and along the Sea-to-Sky corridor.

The BC Greens have already called for various measures to address the ongoing health-care crisis in the province.

This includes calls for short-term financial support to keep family practices open, updating the family physician payment model, creating a publicly-funded mental healthcare system and ensuring there is a regulated safe supply of drugs.

The Greens have also called on the province to ensure British Columbians have access to adequate universal paid sick leave and to protect health-care workers when they speak out about their working conditions.

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“The B.C. government must move with urgent action on health-care,” Furstenau said.

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“British Columbians are worried and suffering from lack of access to their own health-care system. By the premier’s own admission, ‘The system is teetering.’”

The provincial government has been struggling to keep up with an aging population that is also growing due to the arrival of more than 100,000 new people in the last year.

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The government announced earlier this spring plans to fast-track international credentialing for nurses to help get them in the system sooner.

The province also recently got an exemption from the federal government decriminalizing possession of small amounts of hard drugs.

“The people in this province are suffering,” director of public advocacy at B.C. Psychological Association, Dr. Erika Penner, said.

“Psychologists in B.C. want to use the science and best practice evidence from around the world, and even from right here in Vancouver, to make systemic, long-term changes to the way mental and behavioural health-care is delivered in this province. A first step towards this is integrating psychologists into primary care.”

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