NDP response to cancer, healthcare inadequate: Kelowna BC United members

B.C. United recently released its ‘United to Fix Healthcare Patient Bill of Rights’

B.C. United MLA Renee Merrifield and candidate Michael Humer were not buying what health minister Adrian Dix was selling during a two-day visit to Kelowna on June 27-28.

On June 27, Dix provided an update on the NDP’s 10-Year Cancer Care Plan. The minister said B.C. has some of the lowest cancer rates and best cancer outcomes in the country. He also highlighted a program that began a year ago which sends cancer patients to Bellingham, Wash. for treatment. It’s expected to benefit approximately 4,800 people over two years.

A media release from Merrifield stated that a report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information found that of the 2,442 patients referred since May 2023, only 599 completed their treatments. A media story last November said 249 patients preferred to stay in Canada, and 164 declined treatment in the U.S.

Humer, a retired thoracic surgeon and candidate for Kelowna-Centre, attended Dix’s June 27 news conference at the BC Cancer Clinic. He said it makes no sense to him that B.C. is sending cancer patients to the U.S. for care.

“The stress on those patients and their families to have to go into the United States, and what about the stress on healthcare providers who aren’t able to give their care.”

Humer surmised that American healthcare workers are likely paid more to provide treatment after hours.

“Why are we not doing that same thing here to allow people to look after their patients? As a surgeon, we would have never sent patients to the States. We knew how to get the work done.”

On June 26, B.C. United Leader Kevin Falcon released the ‘United to Fix Healthcare Patient Bill of Rights.’

Among other promises, it provides for publicly funded healthcare at private facilities.

Dix was asked about the plan at last Thursday’s news conference. He pointed out that under the past Liberal government, there were more private MRI machines available than public facilities.

“It meant there was a two-tiered system, an organized system of queue jumping for money. So he’s saying, that will come back. I don’t agree with that.”

Humer pointed out that public services offered in private facilities have already been happening in B.C. Dix acknowledged the province’s purchase of a private facility in Prince George in April 2023.

“The reason is it required investment. We didn’t go out and say we want to buy you, they said we think there’s an opportunity for the Northern Health Authority to take over that surgical centre.” 

Dix said the province has also taken over private MRI facilities so services can be delivered to British Columbians.

BC United’s healthcare platform includes:

  • Using existing private providers in B.C., at no cost to patients, to deliver publicly funded care. 
  • Patients being able to easily access their health records on mobile devices
  • Specific health care performance targets


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