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British Columbians increasingly concerned about quality of health-care

45% of British Columbians believe service has declined in the last 5 years
In this Aug. 2, 2021, file photo, COVID ward healthcare worker watches from behind his face shield, double masks and full personal protective equipment as he works with a COVID-19 patient. (AP Photo/Ted Jackson, File)

A new Leger poll commissioned by Canada’s Premiers has found over half of Canadians believe the quality of health-care provided in their province or territory has worsened over the past five years.

In B.C., 45 per cent of those polled believe health-care quality has declined compared to 11 per cent who believe it has improved. The perceived decline in quality of service is largely tied to the pandemic — 72 per cent of British Columbians believe the pandemic has had a large impact on the health care system.

The largest concern for people in B.C. is increased wait times, followed closely by concern about burnout in healthcare workers.

To address these issues, 87 per cent of respondents say an immediate increase in funding is needed to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on Canada’s health-care system.

Leger polled 2,614 Canadians over the age of 18 in the online survey that was available in both English and French. Responses were collected from Jan. 6 to 17, 2022.

The survey comes as the Premiers are pushing the federal government to increase their share of health care costs from 22 per cent to 35 per cent. That target would increase federal transfers to the provinces by $28 billion annually.

B.C. Premier John Horgan, who chaired the Council of the Federation meeting Friday (Feb. 4), said that the current state of health care is unsustainable. After his recent cancer treatment, he said he saw that first hand.

“I saw that on the faces of nurses, of doctors, health care providers, care aides. We need help to be coming on the horizon and we need it in the form of more funding from the federal government.”

BC Nurses’ Union president Aman Grewal has been calling on the province to increase funding to ensure nurses are properly supported. In an interview with Black Press, Grewal said the province needs to increase staffing levels across the hospital system by offering general pay increases, tax incentives and student loan forgiveness as a way to attract more nurses to the profession.

READ MORE: Provinces need $28 billion more a year for health care, premiers say

READ MORE: ‘It’s not OK’: BC Nurses’ Union demands better working conditions

With files from Tom Fletcher