Our take on BC Budget 2019

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Dear Paov --

On February 19, the provincial government released BC Budget 2019. Co-chair Edith MacHattie and organizer Nadine Nakagawa attended the budget lockup on behalf of the BC Health Coalition. We’ve compiled some of the highlights below:

1. Full elimination of MSP fees

Thanks to the tireless work of BC Health Coalition members and others across the province, BC Budget 2019 shows the full elimination of MSP fees as of January 1, 2020. This regressive tax placed an unfair burden on low and middle-income people across the province and we celebrate the work of advocates who are responsible for this victory.

2. Preliminary Poverty Reduction Measures

The first ever BC Poverty Reduction Plan will be announced in March and this budget included some measures to reduce poverty in BC including:

o B.C. Child Opportunity Benefit for families with children up to... 18 years old

o Increased funding for family-based caregivers including foster parents – $179 additional per month

o Increases to disability assistance and income assistance - additional $50 per month

o Funding for 200 additional units of temporary modular housing

o Expanding Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) and Rental Assistance Program (RAP)

The BCHC recognizes that poverty is a major contributor to poor health outcomes and want to see the provincial government do more to eliminate deep poverty in BC.

3. Investment in Infrastructure

The government is investing in much needed health care facilities including redevelopment of Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, a brand new St. Paul’s hospital in Vancouver, and a new patient care tower at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. Modern facilities are a critical part of the public health care system.

4. Investment in Pharmacare

The BC Government has invested $105 million over three years in Fair Pharmacare to reduce deductibles for families with incomes under $45,000 and eliminated deductibles for households with incomes between $15,000-$30,000. We know that many seniors, families, and people on fixed income struggle to afford necessary medications. The BC Health Coalition believes that a national, universal Pharmacare plan is a necessary part of the health care system and the provincial government’s investment is a crucial interim measure.

5. Funding for youth mental health services

This budget also includes a $74 million investment in youth mental health services, including additional funding for expanding the provincial network of Foundry Centres. We know there’s much work to do to ensure we have comprehensive and connected mental health services for everyone and the Foundry model is a great place to start.

We are still looking for advancement on some key priorities:

1. Community Health Centres

Budget 2019 re-iterated the government’s support for team-based primary care. Community Health Centres (CHCs) are an interdisciplinary, team-based model that is well proven in Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Oregon.

In an announcement in May of 2018, Premier John Horgan and Minister of Health Adrian Dix announced CHCs as part of their primary care reform initiatives. BCHC members have been actively working to advocate for CHCs, which are evidence-based, responsive to, and governed by the communities they serve.

2. Seniors Care

The government has invested in seniors care, including funding for an additional 1.2 million hours of care this year. However the huge deficit in seniors care left by the previous government means that the province has a long way to go to create a system that provides seniors with the care and dignity they deserve. We will continue to advocate for increased home support and home care hours as well as improvements in residential care and assisted living. For more information on the state of seniors services in BC, please see this report by the CCPA.

Sincerely,

Edith & Nadine

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British Columbia Health Coalition · 3102 Main St, 302, Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territories, BC V5T 3G7, Canada
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