To the editor,
Our local politicians are looking to the provincial government to help them solve the major physician shortage problem in our area. However, history has shown that government is the problem, causing physician shortages through their poor health care management policies. We should not be surprised if the current effort will also result in complete failure.
B.C. is increasingly falling further behind in addressing a critical shortage of family physicians and the government did not meet a promise to provide a family doctor to everyone who requires one.
According to the Canadian Medical Association, there were over 83,000 active physicians in Canada in January, 2017. That is about 2.28 physicians per 1,000 population. Other developed nations have more than 3.3 physicians for the same population sample size. Disturbing is that 40 per cent of physicians are age 55 or older. Aging baby boomers, who will need increased use of medical services, will also face a dramatic decline of physicians due to retirement. Increased demand of healthcare service coupled with a retiring tsunami of healthcare professionals is a recipe for disaster.
In the 1980s, government health-care planners postulated there were too many physicians in Canada, and so medical-school places were cut. This was another disastrous shortsighted move. Over the last decade, there has been an increase in medical-school places. Not enough, however, to replace the tsunami of retiring physicians.
The Canada Health Act requires all provinces to provide reasonable access to healthcare to all those who require it. Access to a waiting list is not access to healthcare. The sooner governments get out of the business of managing and legislating healthcare, the sooner we will see improvements. The current monopoly by government must end.
Anthonie den Boef, Nanoose Bay