NDP health funding announcement good news, says HEU

News release

Union awaits further boosts for long-term care, home support and other progressive health reforms

Today’s announcement by Premier Ujjal Dosanjh of an additional $250 million in health care funding is an important first step in a long-range plan to heal problems in the system, protect against privatization threats, and modernize public Medicare, says the Hospital Employees’ Union.

“We’re pleased with the NDP’s funding initiative,” says HEU president Fred Muzin. “Health care providers have been working under tremendous pressure to keep our system going, so the addition of new funds will help ease that strain.

“And increasing the capacity of hospital operating rooms to deal with wait list pressures will protect against privatization,” he said.

The announcement, which includes $180 million for hospitals and an additional $70 million for equipment purchases, is part of a long-range government action plan that HEU anticipates will include future funding boosts for continuing care programs for seniors and the disabled, as well as a much needed increase for home support.

“It’s important for government to implement new innovative programs to deliver better hospital care,” says Muzin. “And it’s equally critical that we earmark new investment in other vital areas of our system, like long-term care, community health centres, and home support. British Columbians want a strong hospital system, but they also want more progressive health care options that will in turn reduce pressures on acute care facilities,” he said.

Muzin says it’s also good news that part of the equipment fund is targeted for health and safety equipment for the workplace, for things like patient lifting devices. “Health care is the most dangerous place to work for on-the-job injuries in B.C.,” he said. “Each year more than 7,000 caregivers are injured at an annual cost of $100 million. So the investment in health and safety equipment will help reduce the carnage, improve patient care and save money.”

And he also praised another element of the government plan for greater utilization of licenced practical nurses as an important element in the NDP’s strategy to address the nursing shortage.