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Government & policy

BC to pump an extra $120 million into healthcare

VICTORIA – The province of British Columbia will seek legislative approval for an additional $120 million for the public healthcare system this year, announced Health Services Minister George Abbott.

“In Balanced Budget 2008, government dedicated 68 percent of every incremental dollar of new spending to the public health system for the next three years to support increased services to British Columbians across the province,” said Abbott. “As a result of stronger than expected revenues from the oil and gas sector, government has sought $120 million for health authorities to meet increased demands and pressures across the system, including for surgeries and diagnostic procedures.”

The additional $120 million is more than a 25 percent increase above the additional $465.7 million provided to health authorities in February this year. Total provincial health spending including the Ministry of Health Services, health authorities and health services delivered by other ministries will now rise to a record $14.95 billion this year, up from $9.3 billion in 2001. Health spending is expected to reach $16.5 billion in 2010/11.

A portion of one-time funding will ensure the province continues to build upon record levels of surgeries and diagnostic procedures. This year, the Province expects that an estimated 12,102 hip and knee replacement surgeries will be completed. That will represent a 152 percent increase in knee replacement and 68 percent increase in hip replacement surgeries over 2001.

Median wait times for hip replacement surgery have decreased by 42 percent and knee joint replacement surgery by 33 percent since 2001. The Province also expects to add to its record level of diagnostic procedures, which includes 75 percent more CT exams and 145 percent more MRI exams, between 2001/02 and 2007/08.

“With a growing and aging population, increased use of new and expensive technologies and pharmaceuticals, we are seeing incredible demands placed on our public health care system,” continued Abbott. “Innovations in service delivery and personal responsibility in lifestyle choices supported by record levels of funding will allow us to continue to make our world-class healthcare system even better.”