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British Columbia: Where Waiting for Healthcare is the New Provincial Sport

Welcome to British Columbia, the beautiful province where our doctors and nurses are as overworked as our politicians are underworked.

Islanders don’t want a ticket to a US vacation… for cancer treatment.

For those of us living in British Columbia, it’s a terrible time to get sick or need a doctor. 

Hospitals and doctors are urging the province’s NDP government to step in and address the severe conditions in many facilities, especially emergency departments.

In a recent article by Gary Mason for The Globe and Mail, he reports that Surrey Memorial Hospital, one of the busiest in the province, issued a public letter this week warning of unsafe conditions in its departments. These situations have resulted in one newborn death and too many near misses.

Doctors are upset about the poor conditions in their hospitals and are, understandably, making their concerns public. They report that some patients have to wait up to 72 hours for emergency room attention.

Because of staffing issues, some emergency rooms had to close on weekends last summer. More closures might happen this coming summer.

There is no current plan that can tell us when these emergency room closures will stop. Instead, they seem to be becoming BC’s new “healthcare normal.” 

Adding to the crisis, Health Minister Adrian Dix announced that over the next two years, around 4,800 breast and prostate cancer patients would be sent to private clinics in Washington State for radiation treatment.

This decision came after warnings about a future catastrophe due to a lack of staffing to handle an increasing number of cases with the aging population. These warnings have been ignored for years by both the NDP and the previous BC Liberal government.

The bottom line is that BC is failing to meet wait-time targets for healthcare. Getting a cancer diagnosis in this province means you might have to wait a long time for treatment. This situation has been worsened by poor political leadership over the years, focusing more on short-term strategies than long-term planning.

There is no one else to blame. NDP has been in power for almost six years, and they now have a majority government, yet they are not doing everything they can to stop this embarrassment.

BC residents are suffering; the healthcare system needs urgent attention. The province continues to face serious challenges, and with new residents and immigrants arriving every month, this crisis is likely to worsen before it (ever?) improves.