Written by Alec Lazenby for Victoria Buzz
It had been a year of searching for Janet and Michael Mort.
The Central Saanich couple had been without a family doctor for six months after their family doctor retired at Christmas and were running out of time to find a practitioner able to fill out prescriptions for 82-year-old Michael’s complex health issues.
Like many Victorians, they had tried to find a walk-in clinic, but, as seems always to be the case, every clinic they tried seemed to either be closed or overbooked.
Likewise, Telus Health is booked up months in advance.
This past Saturday, they placed an ad in the Times Colonist saying they would agree to “any reasonable fee: Michael is worth it” and that they had “exhausted all of their options.”
Since placing the ad, Janet says the pair have received hundreds of emails voicing support or offering their help. Finally, on Tuesday a doctor in Victoria agreed to have Janet and Michael join their practice.
“I can’t tell you how relieved I am because we were on the precipice of a terrible situation,” Janet told CTV News.
Michael meanwhile gives his wife all the credit, calling her the hero of this story, which thankfully for the Morts has had a happy ending.
However, not all British Columbians are so fortunate, with over a million other British Columbians still without consistent medical care.
The situation is especially bleak in the provincial capital with over 100,000 of Greater Victoria’s almost 400,000 people stuck without a family doctor.
With the cost of living skyrocketing in the province, many doctors are closing shop and moving away to another province or even the United States. Several practices have already closed their doors in 2022, citing overwork and inadequate compensation.
Problems with BC’s healthcare system are all about what there is not enough of. A lack of clinics makes it hard for those without family doctors to get to a practitioner while at the same time a shortage of residency spots in the province means there are fewer doctors coming into the system to staff those clinics.
BC’s Ministry of Health has cited opening more primary care centres and additional walk-in clinics funding as stop-gap measures to help those struggling. Despite that, many clinics remain closed and the new primary care centres are struggling with capacity.
BC Premier John Horgan says he has been lobbying the federal government to provide him with more healthcare funding, but his efforts have been unsuccessful. He now says he has been inspired by the Morts’s success and is thinking about placing an ad in the papers asking the Trudeau government to pay up.
“Maybe I’ll take out an ad in the paper, I don’t know,” he said at a news conference.
Janet, however, says she faults all levels of government for their predicament and thinks it irresponsible of the premier to shovel blame onto the federal government.
“No one in government helped us with it,” she said. “We did it ourselves, with compassionate people who responded.”