ERs close and staffing shortages worsen as NDP fails to act: BC Liberals

NUMEROUS B.C. hospitals have once again been forced to close their emergency rooms (ERs) due to worsening staffing shortages, all while the NDP announces new medical facilities that will remain empty because of their lack of action to train, recruit, and retain health care staff, say the BC Liberals.

“With each passing day, the crisis in B.C.’s health care system deepens, and yet the NDP fails time and time again to take action to address this very urgent crisis,” said BC Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon on Wednesday. “For years, communities across the province have watched their ERs close and hospitals go on diversion because of chronic staffing shortages. Only after intense public pressure is this government even starting to acknowledge there’s a problem, and they’re nowhere close to backing up their rhetoric with results.”

As was highlighted in Question Period yesterday, the previous BC Liberal government more than doubled doctor training spaces during their time in office, while the NDP has not added a single new seat, or the second medical school they promised to the people of Surrey.

“Instead of training more health care workers, or opening their promised second medical school, the NDP’s only response has been to announce new hospital projects they won’t be able to staff,” said Falcon. “This NDP government simply does not know what it is doing — the new tower at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops will be nothing but an empty shell unless they can immediately address the shortage of health care staff in B.C.”

The Phil and Jennie Gaglardi Tower at Royal Inland Hospital is set to open on July 17, 2022, but at present, Royal Inland is facing continuous staffing shortagesLocal officials have already expressed concerns that there will be no staff to fill the new positions when the tower opens this summer. This is not the first time the NDP has let hospitals sit empty, as the previous NDP government faced similar criticism for their handling of Vancouver General Hospital’s Jim Pattison Pavilion and the GR Baker Hospital in Quesnel in the 1990s, which both remained vacant for years.

“Our health care system cannot afford to wait any longer for this government to acknowledge the scale of the crisis,” said Shirley Bond, BC Liberal Critic for Health. “Almost every day we hear of another B.C. hospital having to suspend services due to staffing shortages. We desperately need a comprehensive health human resources strategy, but despite the Health Minister promising one more than a year ago, he has yet to deliver. It’s time for real action from this NDP government — nice words are not enough to ​get people the urgent care they need and save ​lives in B.C.”


Backgrounder: B.C. Health Care Closure Crisis