Official Opposition Leader Kevin Falcon of the B.C. Liberals called for changes after a report shows that British Columbians had to wait on average 79 minutes — or nearly a full professional soccer match — before seeing a doctor at a walk-in clinic in 2022.
Only residents of Nova Scotia waited longer, at 83 minutes, according to the Walk-in Clinic Wait Time Index produced by tech-company Medimap.
In 2021, British Columbians waited 58 minutes – which was the longest nationally at the time.
Falcon said the new figures show that the B.C. health care system is getting worse as one-in-five residents remain without a family doctor.
“Yet (Premier) David Eby has signalled more of the same by keeping on Adrian Dix on as the health minister,” he said. “Nothing they are going to do is going to change that over the next little while.”
Falcon accused the government of having failed to prepare. A lot of work should have already been done to train more doctors and attract more physicians trained abroad, he added. “They are in the sixth year of government, for Goodness’ sake,” he said. “They only came out with a health human resource plan six months after two terms of government.”
Medimap’s survey of six provinces found Canadians had to wait on average 37 minutes to see a physician at a walk-in clinic.
Four of the top 10 cities for longest wait times in the country were in B.C.: North Vancouver and Victoria with average waits of 160 minutes and 137 minutes, respectively.
Falcon said a government under his leadership would do a “whole suite of things” to improve the system and be measured by their results.
“We wouldn’t just make announcements,” he said. “We would roll up our sleeves and get down to actually making the changes you gotta make to ensure you get different results.”
Falcon, who spoke to media before Monday’s Throne Speech, also used the occasion to talk about the upcoming health-care summit Feb. 7 featuring Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and provincial and territorial leaders.
He said he would be asking the federal government for additional support with innovation and outcomes at the core.
“Right now, giving this NDP government more money, when we have seen over six years worsening outcomes in every single measurement of the health care system, is not going to be a good thing.”
Falcon later also called for a leaner health-care bureaucracy.
Black Press Media has reached out to the provincial government for comment.