Health Care Features Prominently in Government Budget Report

November 22, 2013

The BC Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services released their report to the public on November 14, 2013. The contents of the report are based on public hearings held throughout the province in September and October. (To see full report go to: http://www.leg.bc.ca/cmt/40thParl/session-1/fgs/reports/PDF/Rpt-FGS-40-1-1stRpt-Budget2014Consultations-2013-NOV-14.pdf)

Support Our Health Care (SOHC) was one of 243 groups and individuals that made oral presentations to the committee. SOHC’s presentation was made by Ed Staples at the public hearing held in Merritt on September 15th. The complete presentation can be found on pages 227 – 230 of the transcript at the following link:

http://www.leg.bc.ca/cmt/40thParl/session-1/fgs/hansard/20130925pm-Finance-n8.htm

The following excerpts are from the report (bold typeface added for editorial emphasis):

In the areas of education and health, suggestions are made to address highest-need areas, such as services in rural-remote areas, and to explore innovations that may result in cost-savings to government. Specific suggestions are made to adopt new programs and policies that would alleviate skilled labour shortages, increase post-secondary opportunities, and enhance local health services. (page iii, Executive Summary)

BC’s healthcare system, the largest area of budgetary spending, received considerable attention during the five-week consultation period. Health professionals, local governments, business representatives, and community advocates presented ideas on how to enhance healthcare delivery, expand community services, and invest in new programs and infrastructure. Results from the online survey also affirmed the importance of healthcare services to British Columbians. When asked to spend one dollar in new funding across all government programs and services, the most common response was funding for healthcare. (page 29)

Rural healthcare services

Funding is needed from BC health authorities to support the development and implementation of rural health care models that meet the individual needs of communities in rural-remote BC. There’s no point in having a model if there’s not the funding available to implement the changes. (Ed Staples, Support Our Health Care Society, Merritt public hearing)” (page 29)

Palliative care

“As BC’s population ages, the number of people with chronic and/or end-stage illnesses and conditions will increase, and so increases the demand for quality end-of-life care.” (Lorraine Gerard, BC Hospice Palliative Care Association, Chilliwack public hearing)

Groups emphasized the need for more equitable access to hospice beds across all regions of the province. (page 31)

Conclusions

Evidence presented to the Committee clearly indicates that healthcare remains a high priority for British Columbians. Mindful of the need to ensure sustainability of the healthcare system, the Committee makes ten recommendations to improve services while also maximizing efficiencies and long-term savings.

The Committee heard how health professionals such as pharmacists and midwives can be better utilized to improve patient care and achieve overall cost savings. The Committee therefore recommends that further consideration of these proposals is warranted, and work be undertaken with professionals to explore innovative new service delivery models.

Recommendations are also made to address healthcare challenges in rural communities. The Committee endorses efforts to recruit and retain healthcare professionals in underserved rural communities. Continued capital investments are also encouraged to address specific regional healthcare needs. (page 32)

The report makes a total of 73 recommendations for government to consider for Budget 2014. Ten of these recommendations are concerned with health care. Recommendation #43 and 46 read as follows:

43. Fund BC health authorities to support the development and implementation of rural healthcare models that meet the needs of communities in rural-remote BC.

46. Work with the BC Hospice Palliative Care Association to implement expanded paliative care services throughout the province.

 

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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.
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