From primary to residential care, provincial NDP health critic Judy Darcy offered up her party’s stance on the challenges of health care for B.C. residents Saturday in Comox.
During a health care forum at the Little Red Church Hall, Darcy spoke about her party’s plans to reform health care in the province, then answered questions and took comments from a crowd of about 50 people for more than an hour.
“We do not believe in further privatization of health care. We think there are services that are not provided now that ought to be provided for so that people don’t go out of pocket,” she noted, and added the NDP believe in eliminating the Medical Services Plan so that people don’t face “an affordability issue” which leads to privatization and two-tier health care.
Last month during the provincial budget, the Liberal government announced changes to MSP premiums which are set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2018. Changes include cutting the premiums in half for residents who qualify as a first step to what the government noted is the process of eliminating the premiums.
Darcy emphasized funds from MSP should go into care, not into profit, and addressed the issue of ‘pay for plasma,’ a topic mentioned by attendees.
Pay-for-plasma clinics, which operate in provinces across Canada, offer eligible donors a rate for blood donations. Private blood and plasma collection has been banned in Ontario and Quebec, and Darcy explained she introduced a private members bill to ban the service in B.C.
“The government has refused to do that.”
Darcy also spoke to investing in public mental health and addiction services, “because we have a complete two-tier system when it comes to mental health and addictions.
“The people on the front lines on the fentanyl crisis will all say we have to do more as far as harm reduction and more support for people on the front lines but we also have to have treatment available for people if they are willing and are able to go into treatment, and we don’t have it.”
She added there is no support for people to break their addiction when wait times for treatment are six or eight weeks, or only available to those who can pay out of pocket.
Afterwards, she touched briefly on topic of hospices, and noted she sat on a committee which developed a bipartisan report on dying with dignity prior to the federal law being passed.
“ … We need to ensure this right is available through the continuum of healthcare … the Comox Valley shouldn’t be different than other communities.”
The provincial election is set for May 9.