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Protest for more doctors outside Premiers meeting in Victoria

Meeting with BC Health Minister Dix requested for July 15.

Tuesday July 12, 2022 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated 12:05 pm]

by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends

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After a second day of meetings got rolling for all of Canada’s Premiers inside the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, a protest on the sidewalk out front of the hotel seemed to support the Premiers’ cause.

More funding for health care is what the Premiers are discussing — more specifically their strategy for approaching the prime minister and federal government with their main ask, i.e. more cash influx to the provinces from the federal level. Though BC Premier John Horgan (as Chair of the Council of the Federation) said this morning in a news conference that it is not a serfdom relationship, that the federal and provincial and territorial governments have equivalent responsibility to Canadians as citizens, voters and taxpayers.

health care funding, map
Premiers from across Canada are meeting in Victoria July 11 & 12, 2022 to prepare strategies for negotiating with the federal government about health care funding.

The group of about 20 people with signs demanding “more doctors in BC” follows on the footsteps of the BC Health Care Matters leadership meeting with Premier Horgan and various MLAs around the province. The group has not yet met with Health Minister Adrian Dix, but a petition with over 47,000 signatures was tabled in the legislated, demanding more primary care physicians be supplied to the health care system.

The petition was also “personally delivered” to Minister Dix with a letter requesting a meeting with him by July 15.

Family doctors are the front door:

As the President of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr Katharine Smart, said yesterday, family doctors are ‘the front door’ to the health care system. That has actually changed over the years (and depending on what province you live in); in Ontario you can go straight to a specialist, if you can get an appointment.

dr katharine smart, cma
Dr Katharine Smart is President of the Canadian Medical Association (2021-2022). [CMA]

Protesting in front of the legislature on May 19, the BC Health Care Matters group — calling themselves a grassroots organization — put their cause on the political map. The main local organizer today Camille Curre is based out of Langford (the premier’s riding is Langford-Juan de Fuca in the west shore of the capital region). The group has protested in the nearby Esquimalt-Metchosin riding outside of Mitzi Dean, MLA’s office as well as Horgan’s riding.

camille curre, bc health matters
Camille Curre, Founder/Organizer of BC Health Care Matters.

Curre said she started with the group in January of this year, and said many people “didn’t know there was a shortage of family doctors”. That seems odd, considering the problem has been growing for years in the Capital Region in particular. She says the group is “absolutely grassroots, citizen based”. She wants to make the residents of BC aware of “why this problem exists”.

Mitzi Dean

“We are no longer going to stand by. We need change and we want action now,” said Curre. “We not offering any solutions, per se, because that’s the job of doctors and government organizations are for,” she said, reinforcing the grassroots flavour of her group on the sidewalk with megaphone and ramping up the chants for “more doctors”.

“Every BC resident deserves timely access to a family doctor,” she concludes.

BC Greens weigh in:

In response to today’s protest and the Premiers meeting about health care strategy, BC Greens Leader Sonia Furstenau issued a statement, including:

“If the federal government follows through with increased funding, they should stipulate clear outcomes required with the spending that include attaching all British Columbians to a family doctor, increasing transparency of healthcare data — especially related to COVID-19 – and free access to personal records, as well as a unified pandemic response that include airborne protocols in public buildings and increased protocols in hospitals.”

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