THE BC United said on Tuesday that the NDP’s recent announcement that they will be sending cancer patients to the United States for treatment is an alarming indictment of the state of B.C.’s health care system under this government’s leadership.
“After years of dodging questions and downplaying the serious concerns of British Columbians, this announcement from the NDP is a stunning admission of the dire state of B.C. health care,” said Shirley Bond, BC United Critic for Health. “For years, health care professionals, patients, and our BC United Caucus have been sounding the alarm about the critical state of cancer care in B.C., and the dramatic decline in outcomes, only to be dismissed by Health Minister Adrian Dix and the NDP. This announcement confirms the near collapse of our cancer care system, with so little capacity to keep up with demand that government is sending patients out of the country for treatment.”
The BC United pointed out that wait times in B.C. for initiating radiation therapy within the crucial four-week window, considered the maximum acceptable wait time for patient care, have deteriorated year after year under the NDP. Only 82.9 per cent of B.C. patients start their radiation therapy within this clinical benchmark, in contrast to the 96 per cent national average in 2022. Additionally, only 20 per cent of cancer patients referred to an oncologist are seen within the recommended two weeks, compared to 75 per cent in Ontario.
“B.C.’s cancer care system used to be recognized as one of the best in the world, but now it is among the worst in the country,” said Bond. “I’m glad these measures will give more British Columbians timely access to desperately needed treatment, but it’s absolutely devastating that the NDP has to send these patients across international borders for the care they should be able to get in B.C. Imagine facing radiation treatment far from home, in another country, without your support system. It just shouldn’t be this way.”
She added: “This government has consistently failed to deliver on their cancer care commitments — like the Kamloops Cancer Centre they promised would be up and running by 2024, but still remains in concept planning — and it’s putting people’s lives at risk. Premier [David] Eby and his NDP government must step up and take action to increase capacity in B.C. cancer care. British Columbians cannot afford more delays.”