B.C. Lieutenant Governor Iona Campagnolo opened the second session of the 38th parliament, Tuesday, with the traditional speech from the throne.
The throne speech opened the door to examine non-traditional methods of health care delivery in the province, while still upholding the the five principals of the Canada Health Act and including a new principle of sustainability, Prince George Omineca MLA John Rustad said.
“We cannot carry on without causing a crisis in our health care system. Whether it is five, 10 or 15 years out, you hit a wall,” Rustad said. “A species that doesn’t change and adapt to its environment goes extinct.”
Opposition member and Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson called the throne speech a “smokescreen” to hide the Liberal government’s agenda to see increased privatization of health care.
“Because of their ideology they can’t figure out how to make the public system work better,” Simpson said.
Simpson said the Liberal’s offered a “false guarantee” by saying they will enshrine the values of the Canada Health Act.
“They say the principles of the Health Act are largely undefined and need to be reexamined,” Simpson said.
The sixth principle of the Canada Health Act the Liberals plan to add presumes the only way to preserve the system is through privatization, Simpson said.
“They are looking for a justification for a two-tier system in B.C.,” he added.
B.C. and Canada needs to be open to new ideas from outside our borders, Rustad said.
“I’m not a great fan of reinventing the wheel,” Rustad said. “There are some models in Europe that have been very successful in delivering those services.”
There may be methods than can be borrowed and made to work for British Columbians in a publicly-funded setting, he said.
“We are not interested in a private health care system like the U.S.,” he added. One possibility to examine is the creation of small, specialized clinics, Rustad said.
Specialized clinics may provide a faster, more cost effective method of delivering some services, he said.
“We need to have these discussions,” Rustad said.
Although it is good news that B.C. ranks first in Canada in terms of health care delivery, Canada only ranks 30th in the world, Prince George North MLA Pat Bell said.
“Let’s find out what other jurisdictions are doing that have them rating ahead of us,” Bell said. “Does it really matter to patients where or how they get their treatment if it is paid for by the public system? If you don’t ask the questions, you’ll never get the answers.”