B.C. budget fails to address health care wait times

“New buildings and machines don’t actually treat patients. Health professionals treat patients, and there is a dire shortage of them because their pay has not been competitive for many years." — Val Avery, HSABC President

Vancouver (27 Feb. 2017) — Health Sciences Association of B.C. (HSABC/NUPGE) says the recent provincial budget fails to help the thousands of British Columbians affected by long health care wait times.

HSABC/NUPGE represents 17,000 highly trained specialists working in diagnostic MRI, sonography and lab testing, physiotherapy, social work, radiation therapy, pharmacy and many other health science professions.

Government refuses to address competitive wages for health professionals, lets wait times grow

“New buildings and machines don’t actually treat patients,” said Val Avery, HSABC President. “Health professionals treat patients, and there is a dire shortage of them because their pay has not been competitive for many years. Until the government deals with that, health professionals will be hard to recruit and retain, and wait times will continue to increase.”

Last fall, over 18,000 British Columbians were reported to be waiting for sonography testing on Vancouver Island alone. The waits are driven by a shortage of sonographers, which in turn is driven by the low wages paid in B.C.

Survey says vacancies are being left unfilled in several departments

The wait-list problem is not limited to sonography. HSABC/NUPGE recently conducted a survey of over 1,300 health science professionals and found that 53 per cent of them said their department currently has a wait-list, and 81 per cent of those say the wait-lists have grown longer.

The same survey revealed that 58 per cent said their department currently has openings to hire additional health science professionals but that those openings are going unfilled.

 “Until the government considers increasing wages to attract more sonographers and other health science professionals, this problem isn’t going away,” Avery said.​

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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