New Democrat health critic speaks out against cuts to community health at emergency summit

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VANCOUVER – The B.C. New Democrat health critic spoke out today at an emergency summit on the B.C. Liberals’ cuts to community health centres in Vancouver.

“Because of the government’s cuts to community health, many patients will lose their family doctors and as well their access to high-quality treatment and care,” said New Democrat health critic Judy Darcy following the event at the Mid Main Community Health Centre.

“This has to stop – as we move forward and look at better ways of saving health care dollars, we need to focus on preventive measures that actually keep people healthy and out of our hospitals. These community health centres do just that.”

At the event, Dr. Anita Lee, a family physician at Mid Main, and Scott Wolfe, executive director of the Canadian Association of Community Health Centres, spoke passionately in support of community health centres.

“I am feeling lost with this change in mandate which gets out of the business of community primary care. I am feeling lost as to how to continue to provide this medical home without the support of our team,” said Lee.

Wolfe encouraged the B.C. government to listen to the calls of patients, communities and diverse healthcare providers and make the expansion of community health centres a top priority.

“We know that community health centres work,” said Wolfe. “Ontario’s CHCs have been shown to outperform all other models of primary care. They prevent 20 per cent more hospital room admissions than other modes of primary care among their patients. This saves governments billions of dollars.”

Patients also shared their own stories about their experience with community-based health care at the Mid Main centre, and their fears of losing the excellent treatment they have received.

The event came as health care leaders from Ontario, Alberta, the Yukon and Washington are meeting in Vancouver for the West Coast Community Health Centres Summit

“Experts in community care are meeting here to discuss how to support and expand this model of team-based primary care because it produces great outcomes for patients, and saves governments money. While other jurisdictions are embracing this model of care, B.C. is moving in exactly the wrong direction,” said Darcy.

“We should be investing in these kinds of clinics and making them available in communities across B.C., not closing them down. At a time when more than 176,000 people in the province are without a family doctor, this decision makes absolutely no sense.”