The Columbia Journal
P.O. Box 2633 MPO,
Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada V6B 3W8
Liberals Under Fire as Wait Lists Jump Again
CPP News Service
The number of British Columbians waiting for surgery has taken another
dramatic jump, NDP Leader Carole James said today. According to the
government’s own figures, the number of British Columbians on waitlists
has grown to 77,222, or 25% more than in June 2001 when the BC Liberals
“There is no denying these numbers. The BC Liberals have run out of
excuses,” said James. “Under the Campbell government, more British
Columbians than ever are languishing on health care wait lists.”
James said the most dramatic increase is the number of British
Columbians waiting for orthopedic surgery, where wait lists have jumped
by 66% since June, 2001. Ophthalmological wait lists have increased by
more than 16%; ear, nose and throat surgery by more than 15%; and
urological surgery by more than 45%.
“Health care where and when you need it was the promise, but longer
wait lists are the reality,” said James. “After almost three years in
power, it’s time for the Liberals to admit their health care agenda is
failing British Columbians.”
James said that the Liberals have the wrong priorities for health care.
She said the government is wasting millions of patient dollars on TV
ads and in exorbitant fees and per diems for its hand-picked health
board members who meet infrequently and operate under a cloud of
“We must engage British Columbians in a constructive dialogue about new
solutions and approaches to our health care system,” said James. “But
the BC Liberals continue to be obsessed with spin, secrecy, and
privatization, fostering a climate of conflict and confrontation in our
health care system than ignores patient needs.
“It’s time to open up health care renewal and reform to British
Columbians, giving them a say in how we best direct scarce resources.
Only then will we be able to improve patient care and bring waitlists
The government insists the problem is only temporary and eventually the
burgeoning waiting lists may start to diminish if its increased funding
promises come to pass.
Liberal Health Minister Colin Hansen admits facilities are
closing, leaving many communities without any health services, and wait
lists are getting longer. But he says recent government initiatives
will hopefully reduce them.
“We’re going to put an additional $1 billion into the system,” he said.
“Most of this will go to reducing wait lists and improving home care.”
This is a similar commitment made in March by Finance Minister Gary
Collins when he introduced this year’s provincial budget. It provides
no increases in health care funding and does not address the mass
closures of health facilities across the province.
But Collins said in two to three years, hoping for better economic
performance, a billion-dollar increase would occur.
But BC Nurses Union President Debra MacPhearson says these are exactly
the areas that have been savaged by government cuts, and that longer
wait lists are part of the results.
Her union is promoting the adoption of a patience bill of rights that
would entrench into law a requirement of governments to provide
guaranteed access within minimal timelines to health services in a
publicly funded non-profit health care system.