SOUND OFF: Transforming our healthcare system to put people first

Not only did these cuts affect the people who needed health care at the time, but they also had a lasting impact on all of our health care workers. Falcon’s contract rollover has led to thousands of hard-working healthcare workers being fired, only to be offered their own jobs at lower wages, without the stability and benefits they deserve.

It has also reduced the number of seats in nursing programs at our post-secondary institutions, which means that fewer qualified nurses start working in British Columbia each year.

We have worked hard to reverse those years of neglect. Since 2017, we have committed over $1 billion to support healthcare workers and improve access to healthcare. This includes adding more than 950 staff in team-based primary care, hiring more than 7,000 new staff to support care for the elderly, providing scholarships to more care students nurses and the increase in education and training courses in the health sector from 8,000 to 11,400.

As a nurse, I experienced first-hand the impact of BC’s Liberal cuts to our health care system and the difference it made to finally have a government that truly cared about the workers at the heart of this system. As an internationally educated nurse, I can also attest to the support this government has given internationally educated nurses to facilitate their entry into practice in the province.

Since March 2020, when the pandemic was declared, we have been in a public health emergency, which has put additional pressure on our health sector staff. The new health human resources strategy will help us meet the challenges people are facing right now, while building a strong and resilient public health system for the future.

One of the first actions will be to broaden the scope of practice of pharmacists so that they can adapt and renew prescriptions, which will help to alleviate the pressure of people without regular prescribers in primary care. And by 2023, we will allow pharmacists to prescribe medication for minor ailments and contraception.

We are also adding 40 new undergraduate seats and 88 new residency seats in the UBC medical program, to train more doctors here in British Columbia. As we continue to train more new doctors, we are also making progress in recruiting more qualified doctors.

As of October 1, we have signed contracts with 54 new family physicians under a new incentive program launched in June 2022. These physicians will provide full-service primary care to people in communities across the province, and more than Another 60 doctors are currently in discussions about signing contracts.

We know our healthcare system wouldn’t work without the hard work, skills and passion of thousands of workers. In order to transform the way patients receive care and address our pressing challenges, we must provide strong support to our healthcare system by transforming the way we train, recruit and retain this workforce. Other actions will be announced in the coming weeks.

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Editor’s Note: This opinion piece reflects the views of its author and does not necessarily represent the views of CFJC Today or Pattison Media.

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