LETTER: Health care debate must take place

There have been no total health care funding cuts in Canada or British Columbia.

In response to the “Health Care Under Attack” letter (April 23) ­ — Kudos to Ms. McCallum Miller for lauding Tommy Douglas and his efforts to bring about Canada’s first universal medical care plan in 1962 Saskatchewan. But that letter would have disappointed Mr. Douglas. A great orator he was, but he backed up his arguments with facts.

There have been no total health care funding cuts in Canada or British Columbia. The Canadian Institute for Health Information reports that Canadian public sector health expenditures have more than doubled since the year 2000, increasing from $69 billion to $148 billion in 2013, albeit the rate of growth has slowed from around seven per cent a year to 2.5 per cent. The BC pattern is similar. The effect of the Health Accord itself was to slow the rate of growth and it is true that the demise of the Accord will likely put further downward pressure on the system. But whether it will lead to actual cuts in spending is unknown.

Public sector health spending in BC now consumes 41 per cent of all government expenditures, up from 35 per cent at the turn of the century. Growth in that number has come at the expense of other programs, such as education and social services, as will any further escalation.

Notwithstanding this growth in spending, tough choices on health care priorities have been made and will continue to be necessary. Our aging population, new treatment technologies and difficult geographical terrain create a critically challenging environment for those spending decisions. I understand the concern in Kaslo. As a retired rural resident, I am not too impressed with the state of health care services in the Kootenays either. But simply calling for further funding increases isn’t the answer.

British Columbians deserve a reasoned debate on the future of our health care system. About 50 per cent of our individual health expenditures already come directly out-of-pocket for services that are not publicly insured. Perhaps the legal challenge of Dr. Day will result in galvanizing our politicians for concrete action, one way or the other, on a properly regulated and fully integrated private sector. They have demonstrated they will not tackle the matter on their own. Tommy Douglas types can no longer be found.


Darrell Thomson


Just Posted

10 RDCK incumbents seek re-election

Most rural directors want another term

Slocan Valley added to communities on flooding evac alert

Kootenay Lake is expected to reach flooding level in Nelson by Friday

Police searching for Nelson man

Brent Mickelson hasn’t been heard from since February

UPDATED: Hwy 3 west of Creston remains closed due to mudslide

A detour is available on the Kootenay Lake Ferry, but commuters could see wait times

Local police recognized for work

Eight officers were honoured for removing impaired drivers

VIDEO: Canadian Forces help flood-ravaged Grand Forks residents heal

Sgt. Bradley Lowes says the military is used to dealing with traumatic times

UPDATED: Almost 1,200 people allowed to return home in Kootenay-Boundary as floods dry up

Officials hope to have all 3,000 people back in their homes by Monday night

B.C. Lions bring back 6-time all-star offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye

He was acquired by the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Whitecaps rally for 2-2 draw with FC Dallas

Vancouver climbed out of a two-nil hole to tie FC Dallas 2-2

B.C. VIEWS: Making sense of climate policy

Flood and fire predictions have poor track record so far

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

Wellington Dukes pull off epic upset of Wenatchee at RBC Cup

The Dukes are off to the championship game after downing the Wild 2-1 Saturday at Prospera Centre.

Canada to face U.S. for bronze at world hockey championship

Canada was looking to play in the gold medal game for a fourth straight year, but saw 3-2 loss

Most Read