BC Health Care Matters is preparing to host a rally outside BC’s Legislature in Victoria next month to bring more awareness to ongoing doctor shortages locally and across the province.
The rally, set for Family Physician Day on May 19th, encourages participants to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with organizers and medical professionals from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
A poster promoting the event is stamped with the words, “Everyone deserves a family doctor.”
“BC Health Care Matters’ mission is to campaign for timely access to appropriate in-person health services for every resident of British Columbia,” the group said.
Voicing frustration, the group launched Bring back our Family Doctors and our Walk-in Clinics earlier this year—a petition that has since gained over 30,000 signatures.
“We are petitioning you for an immediate response that will include an action plan to rectify this crisis. Many individuals have been waiting for years to secure a family doctor, without success,” states a post to Change.org.
“Now, with recent news of more departures and closures on Vancouver Island and elsewhere, many more of us who were fortunate enough to have had a family doctor in our community are left without,” the group said.
“Walk-in clinics are disappearing, and families are being abandoned in their care of the sick and the vulnerable.”
Several Greater Victoria walk-in clinics have announced permanent closures this year, including the Cook Street Village Medical Clinic walk-in, James Bay Medical Treatment Centre, Colwood Medical Treatment Centre, and View Royal’s Eagle Creek Medical Clinic.
The latter estimates around 100,000 locals are without a family doctor due to “the severe shortage of community-based, longitudinal doctors in the Capital Regional District.”
With this in mind, it may be no surprise that Victoria is seeing the longest walk-in clinic wait times in Canada.
That’s according to tech company Medimap, as it points to its recently released walk-in clinic wait time index—using 2021 data collected from more than 1,200 clinics across the country.
Of Canada’s top 10 cities with the average longest wait time, seven are in BC, with Victoria scoring first at 161 minutes.
“I think in Victoria, it’s a well-known problem that people have a difficult time finding a family doctor,” Medimap CEO Blake Adam told Victoria Buzz.
On April 8th, the BC government said it was investing $3.46 million in short-term measures to combat the local doctor shortage, including funding to keep five walk-in clinics up and running.
Still, looking to the future, Adam expects the region’s walk-in clinic wait times to continue on an upward trend and climb even higher.
We are in a healthcare crisis, says Premier Horgan
BC Premier John Horgan says the province is in a “healthcare crisis.”
“It’s not just doctors,” Horgan told reporters Friday. “It’s nurse practitioners, it’s registered nurses, it’s care aids, it’s the continuum of care. We need more social workers; we need more psychologists.”
According to Horgan, a “massive infusion of cash” is needed from Ottawa to deliver public healthcare programs.
“One of the proudest elements of our social safety net here in Canada is public healthcare. But it will continue to erode if we don’t have a massive infusion of federal capital,” he added.
“The challenges, whether in long-term care, doctor shortages, primary care issues, acute care, hip replacements, knee replacements… you name it. The lineups are getting longer because we don’t have the resources to manage them.
“I’m confident that [Health Minister Adrian Dix] has a plan, but the plan will take resources, and I’m working with other Premiers and the federal government to get those dollars in place.”
- Where: Legislature Grounds
- When: Thursday, May 19th – 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.