Island residents need better access to family doctors

There are now more than 50,000 residents of southern Vancouver Island who do not have access to a family doctor

This week I’d like to talk about an issue that affects us all: the lack of access to family doctors.

A family doctor is one of the best tools at your disposal when caring for the health of you and your loved ones. Regular check-ups performed by a general practitioner can catch many problems while they are still easily treatable. A family doctor will know both you and your medical history personally; this significant advantage is not available at walk-in clinics. A family doctor is a great first resource should trouble arise. They can refer you to specialists, ensure continuity of care and identify urgent or serious conditions.

And yet there are many people who desperately want and need a family doctor, but cannot find one. Currently there are 57 unfilled permanent family doctor positions available on Vancouver Island alone.

The current provincial government has repeatedly promised to address this problem. And they have repeatedly broken those promises.

In 2010 the provincial government promised to match every patient who wanted a family doctor with a general practitioner. That promise was broken. In their 2013 re-election campaign, the BC Liberals promised that if re-elected they would ensure all British Columbians would have access to a family doctor by 2015. That promise was also broken. In fact the situation has worsened: there are now more than 50,000 residents of southern Vancouver Island who do not have access to a family doctor.

Given this track record there is no reason to trust the current government’s latest promises or to believe they have the capacity to address the problem.

And the family doctor crisis is only part of the government’s health care mismanagement. Opposition health critic MLA Judy Darcy has done valuable work demonstrating the government’s failures. For example, wait times for surgeries are astronomically high – the second-worst in Canada for hip, knee and cataract surgeries.

The answer to our health care woes is not necessarily more money – taxpayers are already contributing more than $15 billion a year to our provincial health care system. We need these funds to be spent more efficiently. For example, the government is wasting taxpayers’ hard-earned money by not providing adequate primary care that catches preventable illnesses at the onset. This is one of the main reasons why family doctors are so important to our health.

Ultimately, British Columbians depend on our health-care system for a wide variety of needs. Fundamentally, we depend on family doctors as our ‘first line of defence.’ Simply abandoning a concrete promise that was made six years ago, as the provincial government did last month, is irresponsible and a profound admission of failure. We expect our provincial government to do better than this. Our health and even our lives are at stake. We need immediate action to address the lack of access to family doctors.

Thank you for reading and I look forward to hearing your opinions on this matter. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have concerns with provincial affairs or if you need assistance with the B.C. government. My phone number is 250-479-4154 and my email is lana.popham.mla@leg.bc.ca. I’m here when you need me.

Lana Popham is the MLA for Saanich South.

 

Just Posted

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
University of Victoria researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of June 6-12. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
New COVID-19 cases up on Island, but health officials say trends going right way

There were 22 new COVID-19 cases in Greater Victoria last week after just four the week before

Emergency health services treated a person after they were blocking traffic at the intersection of Fort and Douglas Streets on June 17. (Evert Lindquist/ News Staff)
Victoria intersection traffic returns to normal after protester blocked roadway

A person in a motorized wheelchair was blocking the intersection at Fort and Douglas Streets

Eric White’s roadside farm stand in Metchosin sits stocked with produce. (Photo courtesy of Eric White)
Fledgling Metchosin farmer frustrated by thefts from stand

Eric White said every dollar made at the roadside helps sustain his farm

Saanich police took a suspect into custody after a store employee on Cedar Hill Cross Road was assaulted Wednesday afternoon. (Black Press Media file photo)
Employee assaulted at Saanich store after asking suspected shoplifters to leave

June 16 incident saw worker taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

Most Read