With the treasury purse strings open in this year’s budget, the Ministry of Health is in line for one of the biggest funding boosts.
Next year there is a bump of $875-million for the ministry, to a new total of $18.8-billion, nearly 40 per cent of the entire budget.
Finance Minister Mike de Jong says back in 1994 the health budget was just $6-billion.
“I mean by the end of the fiscal plan it will be $20-billion so I only offer that because there are lots of things to be critical of the choices we make but please don’t tell me the health care budget has been cut.”
Annual increases are generally around $500-million, but $200-million of next year’s increase is for wages for nurses and doctors.
The remaining will be for program delivery including decreasing surgical wait times.
De Jong says the increase in federal health money from the deal made last week is not included in the budget.
That deal puts B.C. in line for $39-million in 2017/18, $112-million in 2018/2019, and $145-million 2019/2020.
That money will be accounted for starting in the first quarter update.
Funding is a “disappointment”
But the Hospital Employees Union calls the funding a “disappointment.”
HEU Secretary Business Manager Jennifer Whiteside says funding for health authorities will be held close to inflation in the coming years, bad news for staff on the ground.
“That means that health authorities are not going to have the resources they need in order to address congested emergency rooms, home medicine, and continued use of beds for seniors who really need care in an expanded seniors’ care system.”
Whitside says, in fact, the budget has virtually nothing for seniors and was hoping for cash to help staff underfunded seniors homes.