Question Period, Tuesday, March 7, 2016 on wait times for MRI Services. Health Minister Terry Lake vs. NDP MLA Judy Darcy.
J. Darcy: Imagine having to go to Calgary for brain surgery to treat your epilepsy because the waits are too long in B.C. Imagine going back to your doctor because you’re suffering from terrible headaches, and the doctor, a neurosurgeon, orders an MRI. Then you get a notice in the mail telling you that your MRI is scheduled for 2019, 2½ years away. That’s what Linda McClure from Surrey is dealing with, and the notice says: “Please note the year of appointment: August 14, 2019.”
Does the Health Minister think it’s acceptable that Linda McClure has to wait 2½ years for an MRI?
Hon. T. Lake: I don’t think it’s acceptable, which is why we have developed an MRI strategy. The Premier and I announced, in November of 2015, additional targeted funds to increase the number of MRIs being done around the province. About three weeks ago we announced funding for four more MRI units around the province of British Columbia, and we expect to be conducting more MRIs than ever in the coming year.
It is not acceptable for people to be waiting that long, and that’s why we are making the investments. Thanks to our economy and thanks to our prudent fiscal management, we are able to buy new MRI machines and fund more MRIs around the province of British Columbia.
Madame Speaker: The member for New Westminster on a supplemental.
J. Darcy: I brought an identical form to this one to the Legislature in November 2015, and the minister made exactly the same speech. Obviously, people like Linda McClure don’t matter to this government.
Over the past few weeks, we have raised several stories about British Columbians waiting too long for quality public health care — frail seniors waiting for appropriate staffing levels, families needing primary care, patients waiting day after day in hospital hallways — and the minister has made excuse after excuse. Linda has tried in vain to get this government to pay attention to her story.
What’s the excuse this time? It can’t be the weather. Why does Linda McClure have to wait 2½ years for an MRI?
Hon. T. Lake: She shouldn’t have to wait that long. That is why we are putting more MRIs across the province of British Columbia. We’re funding more MRIs. Since I answered this question the last time, our Health Ministry has received a budget increase of close to $900 million.
The members opposite like to paint a picture that is completely devoid of reality. Talk about MRIs. There were no MRIs, no hospitals….
Madame Speaker: Members.
Hon. T. Lake: If the members opposite form government, we’d still be talking about X-ray machines, let alone MRIs. We have invested in four new MRIs across the province of British Columbia. We are funding more MRIs than ever before. We have the largest funding lift in the Ministry of Health on record. We will continue to make the investments in health care for British Columbians.