Family-and-friend caregivers to receive much-needed relief with expanded supports

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News Release
Monday, June 18, 2018 11:45 AM

The Ministry of Health is investing $75 million to expand respite care and adult day programs, helping both seniors and their loved ones, announced Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.

“Many B.C. seniors count on their spouses, children and close friends to help them stay at home, and cope and manage chronic conditions,” said Dix. “Caregiving without adequate supports can impact the whole family, particularly a person’s ability to live at home, which is what most seniors and their loved ones want. Giving seniors better options and supporting unpaid caregivers to take time for themselves is a necessity.”
Over the next three years, the Province will improve and strengthen respite services and adult day programs to support seniors and their family-and-friend caregivers. The number of respite beds will be increased, and overnight care at home will be made more accessible. In addition, the number of adult day program spaces will be increased, and the hours of operation will be expanded to provide services on evenings and weekends. As part of the work, health authorities are developing plans to meet localized needs of family-and-friend caregivers and seniors in their regions.
“The August 2017 report from the Office of the Seniors Advocate estimates that 31% of seniors had a primary caregiver in distress,” Dix said. “According to the report, the number of clients accessing adult day programs and the number of hours per client decreased in recent years. Over the past five years, there were also a significant cut in the number of respite beds. Under the direction of Premier Horgan, we are changing direction by expanding respite care and adult day programs. This plan will provide more direct care for seniors and afford family-and-friend caregivers time for themselves to reduce stress and exhaustion.”

“This expansion of respite care is a strategic investment in seniors’ care. It recognizes that caring for seniors involves caring for their caregivers,” said Anne Kang, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors.

“These clients represent the most highly vulnerable seniors who, without caregivers, would likely need to move to residential care,” said Isobel Mackenzie, seniors advocate. “By increasing access to adult day programs and respite beds and capacity, caregivers will be better supported resulting in a healthier caregiver population, and a better quality of life for seniors.”

“This is exceptionally good news for family-and-friend caregivers in British Columbia, who provide over 80% of the care at home, often without support, and at great financial, physical and emotional cost,” Barb MacLean, executive director, Family Caregivers of British Columbia. “Having access to the right support, at the right time, is absolutely essential for caregivers to be able to continue to care without burning out or becoming a patient themselves.”

Respite services are provided at home through home-support services in the community, through adult day programs, or on a short-term basis in a long-term care facility, hospice or other community care setting. Adult day programs assist seniors and adults with disabilities to continue to live in their own homes by providing supportive group programs and activities in the community. Services may include health-care services, including nursing and rehabilitation activities, nutrition, bathing, foot care, telephone check-ins and caregiver support, including respite, caregiver support groups, information and education programs.

Quick Facts:
• It is estimated there are approximately one million family-and-friend caregivers in the province who help seniors with daily activities, ranging from a ride to the grocery store or a medical appointment to assistance with activities, such as housekeeping and yard work, managing finances, helping with medical treatments and providing personal care, such as bathing. Often the caregivers are also managing families of their own and working.
• People interested in receiving caregiver respite or adult day services, or know of someone who might be in need of these services, can contact the home and community care office in their health authority, or have a health-care professional make a referral on their behalf.
• The strategy to strengthen supports for caregivers is part of work underway to improve the quality of life for seniors in B.C.
• A total of $768 million over three years is being allocated by the Ministry of Health for investments in primary care, home and community care, residential care and assisted living.
• A further $249 million over the next three years will be provided by the federal government under the Canada/British Columbia Home and Community Care funding agreement.

Learn More:
To learn more about supports, information and education offered to caregivers in B.C., visit the Family Caregivers of BC:

To learn more about the Office of the Seniors Advocate report on caregiver distress, visit:

To learn more about B.C.’s new primary care strategy, visit:

B.C. should allow physician assistants

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Times Colonist

MAY 27, 2018 12:05 AM

The B.C. government should be applauded for launching a renewed approach to primary care. Patients in B.C. deserve faster and improved access to primary care, which is a key pillar in any successful health system. A focus on team-based care will be critical to this success.

There simply aren’t enough providers to care for everyone in B.C., especially those in remote communities. Recruiting more family doctors and hiring more nurse practitioners will most certainly help.

What was not included in this important announcement was the introduction of physician assistants into B.C. PAs work independently under the supervision of a physician and are able to diagnose, develop treatment plans and work closely with patients throughout their care.

PAs practice in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and in our Canadian Armed Forces. They are also critical members of the health-care team in the U.K., the Netherlands, the U.S. and elsewhere.

They’re used in all of these jurisdictions because evidence proves that PAs reduce wait times, improve care and save money. It’s time for B.C. to introduce PAs so that patients and families can benefit from their skills as part of the health care team.

Trevor Stone


Canadian Association of Physician Assistants

How Ontario’s next government could relieve overcrowded hospitals

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By THERESA BOYLE Health Reporter

Sun., June 3, 2018

The number of patients who occupied hospital beds even though they no longer required hospital care hit a record level in Ontario this past winter, the Star has learned.

As a result, emergency room wait times also hit an all-time high.

Women’s College Hospital is performing knee replacement surgery as an ambulatory procedure, in which patients are sent home the same day. (LUCAS OLENIUK / TORONTO STAR)

Women’s College Hospital is performing knee replacement surgery as an ambulatory procedure, in which patients are sent home the same day. (LUCAS OLENIUK / TORONTO STAR)

Almost 5,000 patients, most of them frail and elderly, were stuck in hospital beds because long-term-care homes were full or because it was unsafe for them to return home without more support, according to newly audited data from the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) and the province’s Health Ministry.

This caused a bottleneck for patients admitted to hospitals through emergency departments. The 90th-percentile wait time for transfer to an in-patient bed was 40.9 hours, meaning 90 per cent of patients waited less than that time before being admitted.

It’s not surprising then that “hallway medicine” has become a major theme in the June 7 provincial election. There has been a lot of talk on the campaign trail about hospitals housing patients in “unconventional spaces” such as bathrooms and storage rooms. Health care always ranks as a top concern among voters, but rarely gets this kind of attention.

While health-care leaders are pleased that the topic is being debated, they are disappointed by the simplistic solutions being offered. The health system is struggling to meet today’s demands and is nowhere near prepared for the challenges that will come in 20 years, when the number of seniors will double, they warn.

“It is refreshing that for the first time in a political election we are talking about bed capacity,” said Alan Drummond, an emergency doctor from Perth, Ont., and spokesperson for the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians. “But we’re just reacting. We’re not planning.”

Drummond says Ontario is not prepared for the looming onslaught of dementia and Alzheimer’s cases: “ We have no system. We have silos of health. There is no comprehensive long-term vision or plan for how we are going to pay for it.”

Of the 30,000 acute and non-acute beds in Ontario’s 143 hospitals, 4,756 were occupied in January by what are known as “alternate level of care,” or ALC, patients. These patients no longer required hospital care, but were stuck in hospitals while waiting for long-term care or home care, according to the new data. (Acute care beds are typically found in hospitals with emergency rooms, while non-acute beds are located in rehabilitation, complex continuing care and psychiatric hospitals.)

The previous record for ALC patients was set a year earlier when 4,553 were stuck in hospital beds. The longest ER wait times prior to January were in 2008, when the 90th percentile wait was 40.2 hours. (The province began tracking ALC numbers in 2011 and ER wait times in 2008.)

Dr. Alan Drummond says Ontario is not prepared for the looming onslaught of dementia and Alzheimer's cases (SUPPLIED)

Dr. Alan Drummond says Ontario is not prepared for the looming onslaught of dementia and Alzheimer’s cases (SUPPLIED)

Overcrowding peaked in January even though officials opened 1,200 extra hospital beds and created 200 new supportive housing units for frail seniors leaving hospitals. They also facilitated the development of 600 new “transitional spaces” for ALC patients in community settings, such as former retirement homes.

Continue reading

Cities & States Sue Big Pharma, Targeting the Firms Who Profited from Peddling Addictive Opioids


New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced earlier this year that the city would sue manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids to account for their part in the city’s ongoing deadly opioid epidemic. Firms named in the suit include Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson and McKesson Corporation. The Guardian reports that more than 60 cities are suing Big Pharma over opioids. An explosive New York Times report has revealed that manufacturers of the drug OxyContin knew it was highly addictive as early as 1996, the first year after the drug hit the market. 

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO: This is a man-made crisis if ever there was one, fueled by corporate greed, fueled by the actions of big pharmaceutical companies that hooked millions of Americans on opioids to begin with. And some of them still are addicted to prescription drugs, and others have migrated to heroin. But we know where it began for so many people. And, bluntly, it was so a very few people could profit, and, obviously, the horrible actions of criminals who sell drugs and profit in death, as well. That combination has led to where we are today. We need to remember that those origins at the root of this problem means it’s a problem that can be defeated. We can fight back against the big pharmaceutical companies. We can fight back against the criminals who peddle drugs. We can change in so many ways, including changing the entire culture around this issue, so we can help people.

To read the full article, click on

BC Health Coalition applauds the new team-based primary health care strategy

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May 24, 2018

Team-based strategy will ensure faster and more appropriate care

For immediate release

Vancouver, BC – Unceded Coast Salish Territories 

The BC government announced today a major investment in the new primary health care strategy to improve access for British Columbians. Team-based care is central to the new primary health care strategy. This announcement indicates a change of approach and a system-wide transformation of primary care.

Primary health care is a major priority for BCHC members. Over the past few months, the BC Health Coalition has been actively working with Ministry of Health on primary health care. The BCHC has been a strong advocate for community and patient participation in health care development.

“Primary health care is not one size fits all. People need to be able to access the type of health care worker that can best address their needs–this might be a physiotherapist, a social worker, a pharmacist, or a doctor,” says Edith MacHattie, BC Health Coalition co-chair. “Providing team-based care will better meet the needs of British Columbians.”

As part of the new strategy, the BC government is implementing primary care networks, urgent care centres and community health centres.

At the heart of this new vision, team-based care will be rolled out through primary care networks. Burnaby, Comox, Prince George, Richmond and South Okanagan Similkameen are the first five communities where they are rolling out this new initiative. The networks will be across 70% of B.C. communities, including many smaller and rural populations.

“Improving access to primary health care for British Columbians outside of the Lower Mainland and in rural communities is overdue and we’re looking forward to the rollout of these programs,” says Rick Turner, BC Health Coalition co-chair. “We’re thrilled that this government is doing the hard work to transform primary health care.”

Additionally, as part of the announcement today, the government is creating opportunities for doctors to work in team-based care models. Funding will be provided for up to 200 new general practitioners to work in team-based care.

The BC Health Coalition will continue to work with the Ministry of Health and advocate for community participation and evidence-based models as these services and programs are developed.

Read the full BC government release here.

Nat Lowe, BC Health Coalition organizer

Medical school graduates face growing problems obtaining required residency positions

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UPDATED MAY 25, 2018

Around 115 medical-school graduates across the country will be without residency positions this year – up from 99 in 2017 and 77 the year prior.

Around 115 medical-school graduates across the country will be without residency positions this year – up from 99 in 2017 and 77 the year prior.


More than many Canadian medical schools, the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba seems to understand the current plight of the country’s medical students.

With around 115 medical-school graduates across the country without residency positions this year – up from 99 in 2017, and 77 the year prior – the school acknowledges the state of limbo that these students face.

Quite simply, without those two-to-seven years of required training in their fields following graduation from faculties of medicine, they are unable to practise.

“It’s not a degree that you can move into the work force without residency training, so it really does strand you,” says Dr. Brian Postl, dean of the Max Rady College of Medicine and the university’s Rady Faculty of Health Sciences.

Residency positions are allocated through a process known as matching, in which students rank their preferred specialties and residency locations and the medical schools do the same, with a system of algorithms determining a match. If students are passed over in the first round of selection, they can try again in the second round of matching. However, if they are unable to find a match at that point, they have to wait a year.

The number of unmatched students is increasing on a yearly basis; this year, there were 101 positions available for every 100 graduates, compared with a ratio of 110:100 in 2009. But many of those left over are francophone positions in Quebec, and/or in locations or specialties which students didn’t rank among their preferences.

To help address the problem, the University of Manitoba has devised something of a solution, offering positions for any of its unmatched students.

“We, for a very long time, have felt that there was an inherent crap-shoot effect to the match [process] that we were uncomfortable with ,” Dr. Postl says of the policy, which was approved by the faculty council six or seven years ago.

According to the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC), which represents the country’s medical faculties, the University of Manitoba’s ability to find matches for unmatched graduates is unparalleled at other schools. “It is the ideal [solution] of course,” Marie-Hélène Urro, the communications co-ordinator at AFMC, said in an e-mail.

“It’s not a degree that you can move into the work force without residency training,
so it really does strand you.”
— Dr. Brian Postl

To help alleviate the problem, the AFMC is asking the provinces to increase the number of positions. Some have responded, with Ontario recently announcing up to another 53 residencies to help match graduates from the province’s school of medicines.

The other recommendation from the AFMC is to favour Canadian graduates in second-round matches. Currently second-round spots are available equally to both graduates of Canadian and international medical schools. Continue reading

Advocates demand end to extra-billing, upset over $15.9 million federal claw back


BC Health Coalition present symbolic $15.9 million invoice to private clinics

May 1, 2018

For immediate release 

Vancouver and Kelowna, BC – Today, health care workers, seniors and other public health care supporters presented a symbolic $15.9 million invoice to False Creek Surgical Centre in Vancouver and the Okanagan Surgical Health Centre in Kelowna on behalf of the public. 

Both clinics are suspected to be two of the many BC private clinics unlawfully extra-billing patients. [1] [2]

Extra-billing is an unlawful practice where doctors or private clinics charge a patient for a health care service that should be provided at no cost because it is publicly insured as necessary care.

When extra-billing occurs in a province/territory, the federal government claws back an equivalent amount from the health transfer money sent to that province/territory. This is one of the enforcement measures the federal government uses to uphold the Canada Health Act. The BC government recently announced that the federal government clawed back $15.9 million in health funding from B.C. this year.

The $15.9 million was the estimated amount of extra-billing in BC this year, based on the audits of four clinics (3 audits completed for the year 2015-2016 and an earlier audit). [3] If BC does not stop the unlawful extra-billing, there may be more fines to come.

“We are here to send a clear message that unlawful extra-billing at the expense of patients in need, and the public purse, will no longer be tolerated in B.C.,” said Nat Lowe, BC Health Coalition organizer. “Our ask is that all private clinics in BC who are currently extra billing patients stop breaking the law at the expense of patients and public funds.”

“With the growth of private clinics and the lack of the enforcement of extra-billing in this province, BC has some of the longest diagnostic and surgical wait times in Canada. The government’s new strategy to complete thousands more surgeries and diagnostic tests in the public system is one step in the right direction,” said Rick Turner, BC Health Coalition co-chair.

“With the recent announcement to bring the full Medicare Protection Amendment Act into force and crack down on private clinics who extra bill, the current provincial government is taking responsibility to ensure private clinics are not unlawfully extra billing patients,” Edith MacHattie, BC Health Coalition co-chair. “This is great news for patients and our public health care system.”





Legislation will prohibit payment for blood and plasma collection

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Health Minister Adrian Dix today introduced the Voluntary Blood Donations Act, which will help preserve the integrity of Canada’s public blood and plasma collection system by preventing payment for blood and plasma collection in British Columbia.

“Our voluntary blood donation system is an integral resource that helps saves lives thanks to people who graciously donate,” said Dix. “We are taking action to prevent payment for blood and plasma collection, and to make sure that the donations people give benefit people in our province and Canada.”

No paid plasma collection clinics are operating in British Columbia. This legislation is meant to prevent such operations from being established, by making it illegal to pay, offer to pay, or advertise that they will pay someone for blood or plasma. This is similar to legislation in Alberta, Ontario and Québec.

Currently in Canada, there are private for-profit organizations paying individuals for plasma, and then selling that plasma on the global market. By preventing these businesses from operating in B.C., this legislation will ensure that blood and plasma collected in B.C. stay as part of the national supply system run by Canadian Blood Services (CBS). As the national blood and plasma supplier, CBS is exempt from the legislation, as are the provincial government and medical researchers.


“This is an issue that is very important to me and people around B.C.,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Our government stands with public health care, and that means keeping the blood supply system a public resource.” Continue reading

Report on the Health Sciences Association Conference – April 2018

Edward Staples

Edward Staples, President of SOHC (Support Our Health Care) and BC Rural Health Network Lead.

Vancouver Hyatt Regency April 13, 2018 

Achieving High-Performing Primary and Community Care: the Critical Role of Health Science Professions 

The conference opened with a welcome from Val Avery, Health Sciences Association (HSA) President and a First Nations Welcome from Coast Salish Elder Roberta Price. 

The keynote speaker was the Honourable Judy Darcy, BC Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. She gave a brief overview of her first 9 months in office and made the following points: 

• collaboration and team building on the “front lines” is critically important to address the opioid crisis 

• addressing the crisis will require “all hands on deck” 

• the focus of the Ministry is on child and youth prevention, First Nations, and the high rate of death associated with substance use

  • most people who die from opioid overdose die alone 
  • 3 out of 4 are male between the age of 30 and 59
  • 1 in 10 are indigenous 

• problems with the current system:
• “no coordination of services”
• gaps in the service – fragmentation  lack of a team approach
• the goal is to develop an “ask once” system that will take you where you need to go  Continue reading

A welcome second chance for BC Medicare protection

 FILE PHOTO - Seth Klein is B.C. director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. PNG

FILE PHOTO – Seth Klein is B.C. director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. PNG

This article points out a few aspects that are not often talked about.

For every dollar of extra billing by a private for profit clinic, the federal government claws back an equal amount from its cash transfers. In 2015-16, that amount was $15.9 million, enough for 53,000 MRIs.

So effectively, we all pay for the extra billing.

(Cash transfers are the payments that every province and Territory receives from the Federal government for health care.)

B.C. is the only province that Ottawa has repeatedly fined for unlawful extra billing.

I believe that there is a misconception that private companies will be forced to close; this is incorrect, they can continue to operate as long as they follow the law.