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Premier John Horgan opens door to including dental coverage within B.C.’s health care system

December 15, 2018
By Richard Zussman
Online Journalist based at B.C. Legislature  Global News
December 13, 2018 1:27 am Updated: December 13, 2018 11:25 am

B.C. Premier John Horgan is not opposed to the idea of the province covering dental care as part of the provincial health care system.
Horgan was asked about the issue as part of a year-end interview with Global News.
“We have been looking at it and hopefully we will be able to do something about it in the next budget,” Horgan said.

WATCH: March 2018 — B.C. to increase number of annual dental surgeries

The Ontario NDP unveiled a campaign promise in March in to extend dental care to people in the country’s most populated province without insurance coverage.

The NDP estimated the plan would provide dental benefits to 4.5 million Ontarians at a cost of $1.2 billion.

READ MORE: Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath pitches public dental plan

The plan would cover basic procedures such as dentures, exams, X-rays, fillings, cleanings and restorative work.

“It would take pressure off of our doctors’ offices, and off of our hospitals, where people are now forced to go when they’re in absolute crisis when it comes to their mouth and their oral health and their dental needs,” NDP leader Andrea Horwath said during the election campaign.
Horwath is now the leader of the official opposition, losing to current Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

Under the plan, public cash would cover care for seniors without insurance and those on social assistance.
For employers, the NDP would make offering a minimum standard of dental coverage mandatory, including for part-time and contract workers.

READ MORE: Overcoming barriers to affordable dental care

British Columbia’s Medical Service Plan (MSP) premiums currently cover medically necessary services provided by physicians and midwives, dental and oral surgery performed in a hospital, eye examinations that are medically required and some orthodontic services.
Horgan said that his own experience has made it clear to him how important dental services are.

WATCH: March 2018 — Vulnerable B.C. children will have quicker access to dental surgery

“I got my two front teeth knocked out playing basketball when I was a kid and it meant that I was always tentative about smiling. Dental care, dental health is critically important to physical well-being as well as mental well-being,” Horgan said.

“I believe it’s an area we need to move into with kids and get good habits with good oral hygiene and make sure that is funded.”

READ MORE: Is better training the answer to cutting wait times for dental surgery?

In 2008, the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) supported a motion to ask the province to take immediate steps to remove access barriers to dental health care, allocate more funding for basic dental health care insurance for low income individuals and families in the province, and work with the BC Dental Association to resolve the discrepancy between the BC Dental Fee guide and the actual fees charged by dentists.

In 2018, UBCM discussed requiring the Ministry of Health to add basic dental care to MSP coverage and to have B.C. mandate a provincial requirement for all public water source treatment to include fluoridation where naturally-occurring levels do not meet the minimum suggested level of 0.07mg/L.

• With files from Kerri Breen

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



‘It Took 16 Years’: Health Workers Celebrate Repeal of Devastating BC Liberal Laws

November 21, 2018

From giving up hopes of home ownership to declaring bankruptcy, two bills changed lives. Now, ‘there is a hope.’

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By Andrew MacLeod 19 Nov 2018 |
For Catalina Samson, a provincial government decision 16 years ago led to a big pay cut and the death of her dream of owning her own home.
At the time she was working two food services jobs, both unionized, one at a nursing home and one at Vancouver General Hospital.
“I was happy at the time,” Samson said. “I was working well. Everything was in place as a worker. I was really setting my goal toward retirement too.” Read more »

Peter McKenna on Community Health Centers

November 7, 2018

One of the BC Rural Health Network’s community members, Salt Spring Island released two videos, interviewing Peter McKenna, Executive Director of the Rideau Community Health Services in Ontario, Canada.

With many thanks to the Salt Spring Island Community Health Society, and Peter McKenna.

Rural Coordination Centre features BC Rural Health Network

October 30, 2018
A delegation from the BC Rural Health Network posing with rural researchers at the 2018 BC Rural Health Research Conference which took place in Nelson, BC

A delegation from the BC Rural Health Network posing with rural researchers at the 2018 BC Rural Health Research Conference which took place in Nelson, BC

This grassroots organization may be young (it started up in December 2017) but has much wisdom to share.

The BC Rural Health Network is a collective of small communities working collaboratively to advocate for improved health service delivery in rural BC. 

The idea to create this group came after a presentation by the Princeton-based Support Our Health Care (SOHC) group at the BC Health Coalition Conference in 2017. SOHC presented a “how-to” workshop on organizing a Community Consultation on Health Care. 

The response to the presentation was overwhelmingly positive, and SOHC found itself being approached afterwards by other organizations who either had similar expertise to lend, or who wanted to draw on the hard-earned wisdom of SOHC and other seasoned rural BC community health care advocacy groups. A few weeks later, the BC Rural Health Network was formed with members from the communities of Ashcroft, Nelson, Sicamous, South Shuswap, Trail, and Princeton taking part.

Although the network is still establishing itself in a formal sense – terms of reference for the organization are in the process of being finalized – it has hit the ground running, organizing meetings with key stakeholders (including the Ministry of Health), connecting with other rural communities and adding to its membership, hosting conversations with rural physicians through the Divisions of Family Practice, and planning next steps. 

If your BC rural community is looking for information, support, or ideas about how to improve and sustain health care services, check out the BC Rural Health Network online or on Facebook. We’re all in this together.

Rural Coordination Centre of BC

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Thunder Bay’s Rapid Access Clinic for hip, knee conditions cuts wait times from years to weeks

October 14, 2018

“This is the most modern arthroplastic program in the world,” says one of clinic’s 4 orthopedic surgeons

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Dave Puskas (far left), Rapid Access Clinic program director Caroline Fanti (left), patient Laurie Horlick (centre) and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Travis Marion (right) stand in a treatment room at the innovative new clinic at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. (Cathy Alex/CBC )

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Dave Puskas (far left), Rapid Access Clinic program director Caroline Fanti (left), patient Laurie Horlick (centre) and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Travis Marion (right) stand in a treatment room at the innovative new clinic at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. (Cathy Alex/CBC )

The new rapid access joint clinic at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is cutting wait tijmes for hip and knee replacements from years or months, to weeks or even days. 8:00

The Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) is leading the province with its Rapid Access Clinic, an innovative new central intake and assessment model for treating people with hip, knee and spine conditions, says Caroline Fanti, the program director.

“This is the most modern arthroplastic program in the world, it really is,” says Dr. Dave Puskas, one of the northwestern Ontario clinic’s four orthopedic surgeons, and the co-founder of the program with Fanti.

Patients are referred by their family doctor to the clinic, which then acts as a one-stop shop for consultations with orthopedic specialists and ultimately surgery if required.

Once enrolled in the program, the patient is assessed and then agrees to be cared for by the next available doctor from a pool of orthopedic surgeons, who also take turns working in Dryden, Fort Frances and Kenora.

‘More streamlined care for patients’

Putting aside the natural competitive instinct between surgeons was key to developing the program, said Puskas.

“We’re kind of territorial but my partners are very progressive and they listened to this as an idea and they chewed on it for awhile and it became acceptable, and we really have been able to provide more streamlined care for patients,” he said.

The program has cut the wait time for a consultation from nine months to just two to four weeks, with 90 per cent of surgeries being completed in less than six months, as opposed to two years.

‘I’m seeing people who need to see me’

“It means that I’m seeing people who need to see me, instead of me trying to pay attention to someone who really doesn’t need to see me, and I’m no longer dealing with the comment ‘What? I waited two years for you to tell me this!’ because they’ve already been in and seen someone who told them they were not an operative candidate”,  said Puskas, pointing to another unique aspect of the clinic.

The program also brings together physiotherapists and doctors in a much more collaborative environment.

“We don’t always trust each other’s diagnoses, so we had to go through a period of time where we really got on the same page and used evidence from the literature to guide how we would deal with each different thing”, he said.

That new respect is also translating into better service for patients, said Puskas, explaining he was able to see 30 patients in the fracture clinic, while his advanced practice therapist colleague cared for another 14, with the understanding he was always available if his expertise was required.

Quicker access means less pain, fewer painkillers

“So basically she was able to put 50 per cent more patients through and have them have the confidence that they had the attention of the surgeon if they’re needed.”

Quicker access to specialists and a shorter wait for surgery is having a dramatic effect on people’s quality of life, said Fanti, the program director.

“It reduces anxiety and stress. It’s decreased lost time off work and it’s also reduces the risk of narcotic dependence because you’re not using pain pills to manage your pain and it also reduces unnecessary tests ordered that may not impact your plan of care.”

Laurie Horlick, who was referred to the clinic in April 2018 and had her hip replaced in August, described her experience with the clinic as “amazing.”

‘I would do it again in a heartbeat’

“I talked to so many individuals and they were totally flabbergasted when I told them when my surgery was actually happening. They said ‘are you serious? people wait two years!'” said Horlick.

“If I had to, I would do it in again in a heartbeat.”

Fanti said they are planning to build on the success of their hip and knee replacement program and hope to soon include more back and spinal patients as well as people with shoulder, ankle and foot conditions.

As well, they also plan on making telehealth consultations available to people in their homes.

You can hear more about the Rapid Access Clinic from Dr. Dave Puskas and Laurie Horlick on CBC’s Superior Morning here.

Updates on the Brian Day case by the BC Health Coalition

October 14, 2018

We are at a turning point in the Cambie Case – the Plaintiffs (Cambie) will complete their part of the case by the end of this month. Starting in November, the other parties, including our intervenor group, will have their say. The Defense will start their case in January 2019.

Brian Day’s cross-examination:
Brian Day, CEO and President of Cambie Surgeries Inc., started this Charter Challenge back in 2006 after he learned his clinics were going to be audited by the BC Government. The audit was triggered by dozens of complaints by patients who complained they had been illegally overbilled at Cambie’s clinics.

Finally, last week, Brian Day took the stand and was cross-examined about his affidavits, his public statements and his business practices. His time on the stand was both confusing and illuminating at the same time, with Day contradicting himself repeatedly throughout the three days. For a more detailed description of his cross-examination, click here.

The provincial lawyer concluded his cross-examination by accusing Day of fraudulent billing activity at his private clinic, stating,
“I’m going to suggest, Dr. Day, that it’s quite remarkable that your physicians are prepared to accept a cheque, the basis for which they have not been told, over a period of years, with no documentation anywhere, nothing in writing explaining what the basis of that payment is, and I’m going to suggest that that is a very suggestive arrangement, a very unusual and a very suggestive arrangement…of the company’s awareness that what was going on was not legitimate, that it was, to…use your terminology, fraudulent.”

The Case – what comes next:
Now, our lawyers are working with our two key experts before they take the stand to be cross-examined by Cambie’s lawyers: on November 26, Dr. Marie-Claude Premont (an expert on the impacts of the Chaoulli decision in Quebec) and on December 3, Dr. David Himmelstein (an expert on the relationship and links between the US and Canadian health care systems).

Then, in January, the BC Government, who are the Defendants in this action, will argue their case. Their case will conclude by April 2019, followed by Closing Statements by all parties later that spring. Finally, there will be the Judge’s ruling, which will come sometime in the months following the end of the trial.

Extra-billing and the injunction application:
Extra-billing is a key focus of the Cambie case – Brian Day is trying to make it possible for doctors to extra-bill (to charge patients unlimited amounts for any procedure).
In April, the government enacted legislation increasing the fines that doctors and clinics could receive if they extra-billed patients for services covered by MSP, along with other protections for patients.

In reaction to this move, Cambie applied for an injunction to stop the enforcement powers (or in other words, to be able to continue to extra-bill) until after a judgement is made on the entire Cambie trial – which could be another year. Judge Winteringham, who heard the injunction application, will make her decision within the month. In the meantime, the start date for the new patient protections is on hold.

Public health care matters and we appreciate that you are here with us fighting so that everyone gets the care they need, when they need it, where they need it, and not only if they can afford it.

Without your support, we would not have been able to continue to hold Brian Day and Cambie Surgeries to account, both in the courtroom and in the media.

We are working to ensure that not only Brian Day’s false promises (that two-tier health care will improve wait times) are debunked, but that the public knows what this case is really about: removing the protections that ensure patients can get care based on their need and not their ability to pay.

Terrie Hendrickson
Coordinator, BC Health Coalition

Responses on Health Matters from Candidates for Princeton Municipal Office

October 5, 2018

Responses on Health Matters From Candidates for Princeton Municipal Office:  Warm appreciation to all.

The Responses below are printed with the content as received. No editing has been done. They are listed in alphabetical order under Candidate name.  The numbers correspond to the following questions:

  1. If you become mayor/councillor, where would you place the health care issue on your list of priorities for Princeton?
  2. In your opinion, what are the main health care issues for Princeton?
  3. What suggestions can you offer to improve our community’s health care model?
  4. Two of the social determinants of health are poverty and lack of housing. What is your position on this issue? Would you be in favour of establishing low income housing in Princeton?
  5. What is your view on the Ministry of Health initiative to establish Primary Care Networks (PCN) as a way to improve access to primary care in BC? What are your thoughts on the Community Health Centre and Patient Medical Home models and their role in the PCN initiative?

Candidates for Mayor

Frank Armitage:

1. Health Care is, and must remain a top priority for our Town Council

2. Ensuring we have the allotted number of Doctors  (6) in our  Community

3. Work with Interior Health and our Doctors (as we do) to insure a positive progressive relationship

4. Low Income Housing is managed by our Community Services Group and I am working with Executive Director Connie Howe for more Low Income Housing Units

5. These are good plans that are now being implemented in the Rural Communities. The Ministry of Health and Interior Health are working with the Doctors on these plans to increase the levels of Service available

Leona Guerster:

I believe Council should maintain an open and respectful dialogue with the Province in regards to Health Care. Healthcare is a priority. I would love to see our Hospital become more than just Primary Care, I lived here at the time when babies were delivered and operations including elective surgeries were performed. Municipalities, unfortunately, are not the governing or decision making bodies when it pertains to Healthcare.

Spencer Coyne:

1. Health care is high on my priority list. I would maintain the Town’s commitment to the Steering Committee, stay dedicated to maintaining our doctor numbers and start looking at ways to increase mental health and drug & alcohol resources for our community.


1. Shortage of mental health workers

2. The opioid and drug problem in town

3. Maintaining service levels

3. There are two answers to this question. First I think communities need more direct input into what is needed in a local health care model. Secondly, I think we need to do more to increase and improve access to metal health. We also need more drug abuse assistance. We need outreach, counseling and maybe even a way to detox our residents at home and have more spots in a treatment centre once they are out of detox.

4.  I have talked to the housing manager for Princeton’s low income housing we have a waiting list for low income senior and family living units. I believe we need to lobby Victoria to build more units or find an alternative way to have more low income units built in Princeton. There is an old saying that “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” if we consider this when we look at the community when we have vulnerable members of our community that cannot access basic necessities like housing we must ask ourselves how strong is our community.

Tackling poverty is a complex issue and is not something that you jump into without understanding it. In order for a true poverty strategy to be successful you must have mental health supports in place, you must have affordable housing in place and you must have support mechanisms to make sure that people do not fall through the cracks. We need to do more to support the local food bank and Princeton Crisis these two organizations are on the front lines along with social workers, school teachers and mental health workers we need to look at a collaborative approach to dealing with the overall issue of poverty. Read more »


To become a member of SOHC, please
email the secretary.
Annual membership is $2.

SOHC Discussion Paper

Developing an Improved and Sustainable Health Care Model for Princeton, B.C
Support Our Health Care has released a discussion paper in order to get feedback from the community, politicians and professionals about the state of local healthcare and what the long term solutions should be.
Download PDF Here