The state of health care on Vancouver Island was front and centre when national NDP leader Jagmeet Singh swung through the region recently.
Singh brought with him tales from Canadians of losing their family doctors, long wait times for surgical procedures, difficulty in getting treatment because they no longer have the continuum of care that a family doctor provided.
He faced a panel of stakeholders who brought their concerns to a roundtable discussion—concerns that also focused on seniors and health care.
Patients aren’t the only people facing difficulties. Health care is a difficult field to be in right now: always busy, fraught with crisis after COVID-19-fueled crisis, forever thankless as sick and hurting residents take their frustrations out on the workers.
A 2022 survey conducted by Statista Research Department determined 63 per cent of respondents feel a lack of staff is the biggest problem facing the national health-care system.
Singh agrees with the sentiment, saying the focus should be on hiring more health-care workers as well as enticing back those who left because of “bad work conditions” and insufficient pay.
At the same time, governments must consider retention to be as vital as attracting new staff members.
Health-care workers are burning out over the pace they are being asked to work; financial compensation and some appreciation would go a long way to keeping them in their roles.
There is much talk of the health-care system in Canada being broken, but little conversation in between political posturing and accusations of who caused it as to how to solve it.
While health care is a nationwide issue there are piecemeal provincial regulations that have contributed to the crisis.
Canadian doctors have for months called for streamlined regulations for hiring new doctors. Nurses are facing a similar situation: for example, a licenced practical nurse working in one province must re-write their board exam if they move to a new province, rather than bringing their nursing licence with them.
If medical schooling is standardized, the licensing system should be as well.
A frank, uncomfortable, non-partisan discussion needs to happen about infusing health care with cash, people and nationwide standardization.
This will never happen until all national parties can agree on a Canada-wide strategy.
Until then, Canadians will limp from waiting room to emergency room crossing their fingers they can get the help they need.
— Black Press