Thursday February 17, 2011

BC Health Care Politics

BC Health Care Budget Lacks Common Sense

Greens say same level of service doesn't justify increased spending

Submitted by Office of the Green Party


ime for BC Liberals to go back to school. "I guess its fortuitous that the BC Liberals have increased funding to Education Programs, given the fact that the members of this government have failed to learn that this province has limited number of natural resources. We need to manage our resources and economy - not until the next premier is selected, but for the next seven generations," said Jane Sterk, leader of the Green Party of BC.

The budget continues the relentless increases in healthcare expenditures despite accumulating evidence that we are measuring the wrong things and our healthcare outcomes are lower than other industrialized countries.

"Focusing healthcare outcomes on death indicators is preposterous," commented Sterk. "If we really want an adequate evaluation of how our health care system is working, we should be focusing on social determinants of health, prevention and promoting a healthy population.

"The indicators of interest to this government are infant mortality, cancer mortality and diseases of the heart. Even amongst those indicators we need to actually start quantifying the quality of life.

The Green Party questions the continuous increase to healthcare spending. Healthcare is described as "comparatively efficient. compared with other Canadian jurisdictions." It is not efficient and the outcomes are lower when compared to Europe and other industrialized nations. Comparing ourselves to equally inefficient jurisdictions makes us look better than if we compared BC to places where they get better value for their healthcare investment.

The Green Party wants an end to the commitment to the inefficient and ineffective Health Authority model. It is time for the government to listen what patients and healthcare professionals throughout BC are saying about the quality of care and the value for the money invested.

The minister's reliance on debt to GDP ratio as a measure of economic health cannot be used to condone increasing the overall debt to $60 billion. It costs well over $7 million per day to service that debt. The minister says that taxpayer supported debt remains affordable.

"I guess Minister Hansen hasn't looked at the fact that British Columbians carry the highest personal debt load in Canada at 160% of income," continued Sterk. Instead, the government is happy that consumer spending is above pre-recession levels."

The Green Party is disturbed that this government continues its tax shifting from highly polluting industries to the taxpayer. Special tax breaks for major industry, 900 million a year in sales/leases of crown land for drilling rights, bio-methane exemptions and programs and credits to foster industry investment in exploration and development of the natural gas industry are just some of the increasing subsidies to the various industries that are implicated in climate change.

"Instead of moving to a low carbon economy, this government is committing us to a completely unsustainable reliance on fossil fuels for the foreseeable future," said Sterk.

"At the same time, the government starves the non-profit sector of revenue. The 33.3% of gambling revenue that was to go to charities, arts and the non-profit sector is now down to 20% shared between charities and local governments. That is just another way to shift taxes to fund their ideological belief that we must transfer our public wealth to the private sector," concluded Sterk.


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