I’ve been knocking on doors and speaking to voters since December and the two biggest health issues that people raise with me are:
(1) the shortage of family doctors on south Vancouver Island; and
(2) the cost of prescription drugs.
This concern about family doctors is personal. I am one of the thousands of residents in our community who do not have access to a family doctor. I rely on health clinics. The staff are typically very professional, but health clinic users like me face long wait times, packed waiting rooms, and a different doctor at most visits.
This concern is personal in another way too. I have a daughter who just graduated from medical school and decided to take a residency in Alberta, rather than BC. Her decision is understandable as Alberta’s medical system provides more options than BC’s. Our surgery waitlists and emergency room wait times must be shortened in BC.
We also need a new service model that does a much better job of triaging patients and integrating the services of administrative staff, nurses, nurse practitioners, doctors and other professionals. Years ago, I served as President of the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre in Ottawa. It offered this kind of integrated service. Patients loved it as it provided one stop service. Health professionals loved it as it provided professional support and mutual back-up.
This solution helps to address the family doctor shortage because it enables a nurse or nurse practitioner to help patients who don’t really need to see a doctor. Family doctors also spend more of their time seeing patients and less time performing administrative work that other professionals can handle more efficiently.
The concern about prescription drugs is a big affordability issue. I’ve spoken with seniors and mothers caring for children with disabilities who are very concerned about prescription drug costs.Too many people in our community are being forced to choose between buying groceries and buying the prescription medication they need. As the first party in Canada to advocate for National Pharmacare, we find the delay in implementing a universal prescription drug plan to be unacceptable. It’s time for action.
The Green Party will:
● Implement a truly universal health care system including national pharmacare so all Canadians can afford the prescription medication they need.
● Expand home care support for the many seniors who wish to stay in their own homes.
● Provide additional funding to hire more staff, fully utilize existing operating rooms in hospitals, and purchase new diagnostic equipment.
● Provide funds immediately to begin training more doctors and nurses.
● Treat drug addiction as a health issue and not a criminal one. Our opioid crisis is a health issue that must be addressed through harm reduction, treatment, and prevention.
We are making progress, but we must do more to take the stigma out of mental health and to fund mental health services fully.
One in five Canadians struggles with a mental health problem. Some communities struggle more than others: the suicide rate in First Nations communities is twice the national rate. Young people are not being treated early enough. Growing numbers of seniors are facing mental health issue.
Mental health must be a priority for all levels of government and we must ensure that people get the help they need when they need it.
The Green Party will:
● Establish a Minister responsible for Mental Health and Addictions who is focused on the development of effective community treatment programs.
● Develop a youth mental health strategy for early detection and care for mental illness.
● Increase the emphasis on preventative care for mental health.
● Provide more education and support for family members of people with mental health issues.
Canadians are proud of our medical system, but we can do much better. We need to move forward together on solving the problems facing universal healthcare. Please feel free to email me if you would like to discuss these issues.