"I want to ensure that I’m very clear. When we’re talking about equity of access to health care, that’s a really important concept. "I said that for some members of the population, a walk-in clinic provides a great alternative or meets the needs that they have. "If you have a short, intermittent problem, a walk-in clinic with a highly trained physician may meet the needs. I certainly did not imply that walk-in clinics would suffice for people that have complex, chronic diseases or conditions that require continuity of care. "However, they do provide a very valuable service. I don’t want to denigrate physicians who work in walk-in clinics. They provide a very valuable service." Honourable Terry Lake, Minister of Health May 11, 2015 Debates of the Legislative Assembly (HANSARD), p. 8318 WALK-IN CLINICS OF B.C.
A VERY VALUABLESERVICE INTRODUCTION The Province of British Columbia has budgeted $19.061 billion for Health in the current fiscal year, 2015/16. Those expenditures represent 41.6 per cent of the province’s total annual GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) budget. Health outlays also are expected to continue to rise in the foreseeable future, according to the province’s three-year fiscal plan. Next year, 2016/17, Health spending is forecast at $19.556 billion, and will add up in 2017/18 to $20.124 billion. As a proportion of total budgeted expenditures, Health is expected to reach an even 42.0 per cent over the next two years. By comparison, Education spending – for both K-12 and post-secondary – is projected to compose just 26.3 per cent of B.C.’s total GAAP budget, while Social Services and Housing account for 8.5 per cent of forecast outlays. CHART 01 - Province of British Columbia, Total GAAP and Health Expenditures, 2001/02 - 2017/18. (Actual and budgeted, $millions) $60,000 $50,000 $40,000 $30,000 $20,000 $10,000 Health, clearly, is a sizeable and significant portion of the provincial government’s expenditures – and responsibilities. *** Yet, even as an ever-increasing amount of taxdollars are allocated to Health, many British Columbians remain without the services of a regular medical doctor. Indeed, Statistics Canada’s most-recent Canada Community Health Survey found that as many as 839,000 British Columbians – more than 18 per cent of the province’s total population – are without a regular physician. Both numbers are up sharply in recent years, even though B.C. is training and recruiting more doctors than ever before. According to data published by the province’s Medical Services Plan (MSP), the number of 'all medical specialists' enrolled in the program in B.C. over the last decade – from 2004/05 to 2013/14 – increased from nearly 8,300, to more than 10,100. Over the same time-period, the number of general practitioners grew from 4,600 to almost 5,500. It seems incongruous: at a time when public-sector expenditures on health are rising ever-higher, and more physicians than ever before are providing services, how is it possible that an increasing number of British Columbians do not have regular access to a physician? $0 Total Expenditures Health (Source: British Columbia Financial and Economic Review, various years, Ministry of Finance, Budget and Fiscal Plan, 2015/16 - 2017/18.) It is evident that Health presents numerous, ongoing challenges – and not only for policy-makers in Victoria, but also for the professionals, administrators and other health-workers employed across our vast province. WALK-IN CLINICS OF B.C. 1