Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) delegates voted overwhelmingly Sept. 14 to ask the province that emergency rooms and ambulances remain available 24 hours a day.
A resolution before delegates at the annual UBCM convention in Whistler said British Columbians — notably families, seniors, children and people with chronic and acute health care — need immediate access to such services.
The resolution said there is a critical need for additional family physicians, emergency room doctors, specialists, paramedics and nurses across the province.
It asked the government to increase funding and training opportunities for health-care professionals so that all B.C. residents can access an appropriate and necessary level of care.
On Sept. 13, Health Minister Adrian Dix acknowledged the province is in a health-care crisis. He said a transformation of the system is needed.
Also at the convention, Clearwater Mayor Merlin Blackwell told delegates that his community has been hurt by repeated emergency room closures and ambulance shortages.
Vancouver Coun. Pete Fry said closures at UBC have caused overflows into the city’s two main hospitals — Vancouver General and St. Paul’s — overflows which impact how well those facilities can handle cases coming from other parts of the province.
In the past, the UBCM has asked the province to consider, implement and adequately fund alternative physician compensation models to replace the fee-for-service model to better support continuity of care and encourage doctors to practice family medicine.
A new compensation model is expected to be unveiled this fall.
It further asked the provincial government to work with Doctors of BC and Divisions of Family Practice for a solution to rebuild the family practice system so that citizens of B.C. can be confident that they can have their own doctor.