OPINION: NDP health care delays and blame games costing lives


BC Liberal Critic for Health


IT’S always telling when a government has more to say in criticism of others than it does in praise of its own accomplishments. It’s a worrying sign that maybe they don’t have many accomplishments to be proud of.

Recently, Premier David Eby and his NDP government finally announced they are moving forward with B.C.’s second medical school at Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus — the only catch being that it won’t be producing graduates until at least 2030 if all goes according to plan.

Those who heard the NDP’s original promise in October of 2020 may be confused, remembering that this government initially said new doctors could be graduating by the 2023-24 school year, before changing their minds and saying the first classes would start that year instead. Now, the NDP has delayed the opening of the much-needed medical school by another two years, with classes not set to begin in 2026.

While a new medical school is a positive step for B.C., because of the NDP’s delays, it won’t have an impact on our system for nearly a decade. By then, more than 1,700 current family doctors will have reached retirement age.

Because of this, the NDP aren’t getting as positive a response to their announcement as they expected. People are tired of flashy announcements that fail to have any immediate impact on the current, and quite literally, deadly situation. British Columbians want results that will save lives, not empty promises and nice words. The lukewarm reaction to their announcement has sent the NDP scrambling for ways to blame the previous government for their own delays and failures.

They point to statements made more than 13 years ago, and decisions that were made in entirely different contexts as if they haven’t been in power themselves for nearly six years. If the NDP had chosen to start this second medical school when they first came to power, it would nearly be graduating doctors by now. They forget they have their own half a decade of history to answer for.

But if the NDP wants to compare their track record on health care with our previous BC Liberal government, we are more than happy for them to do so. I am proud of the high-quality health care we delivered to British Columbians.

Under the BC Liberals, B.C. had the highest life expectancies in North America, the best survival rate for heart disease in Canada, the lowest incidence of cancer and the very best survival rates. We more than doubled the number of seats for first-year medical students from 128 to 288, brought in Divisions of Family Practice as a cornerstone for health system integration, and attached more than 178,000 previously unattached patients to family doctors. Funding for health care went up every year we were in government, and we invested billions in capital projects like the hundreds of millions spent on expanding Surrey Memorial Hospital and building the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre.

These are real tangible outcomes. Actual results our previous BC Liberal government delivered for British Columbians, not just rhetoric.

But after almost six years of the NDP, these outcomes which used to lead the country are slipping. We are seeing stage four metastatic cancers diagnosed in emergency rooms, year-long waits for specialists, people dying in ERs and while waiting for ambulances, and nearly one in five British Columbians without a family doctor. In Surrey, the NDP’s planned second hospital is set to have a truly inadequate 168 beds, with no maternity or pediatric departments, in a location that is not easily accessible by transit.

All of this has happened on David Eby and the NDP’s watch, and yet they still want to pass the blame onto others. But British Columbians do not want to hear who their leaders think is to blame for problems, they simply want their government to fix them. Unfortunately, the NDP have failed to deliver the results that British Columbians need and deserve. By nearly every metric, our health care system is in crisis and people are paying the price for this governments inaction.

It’s time for this government to take responsibility for their own record and take the urgent steps needed to solve the health care crisis — because lives depend on it.