B.C.’s health minister warns high emergency medical care demand may be ‘new normal’

B.C.'s health minister warns high emergency medical care demand may be 'new normal'
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix speaks during an announcement, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, June 9, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix says the province is experiencing unusually high demand for emergency medical services — even before the cold-and-flu season begins — and the situation may be a “new normal.”

Dix was meeting doctors and officials at Surrey Memorial Hospital this morning to update them on expanding the facility’s emergency capacity, after complaints this year from workers that they lack resources to cope with the large number of incoming patients.


Dix says the province has progressed on a number of fronts since announcing 30 initiatives in June to address doctors’ grievances, including posting 64 nursing positions at Surrey Memorial, implementing patient ambassadors to improve care, and hiring more than 100 foreign-trained nurses across B.C.

But he also says the situation needs time to improve, as there are currently about 9,700 people in B.C. emergency care, about 700 more than at similar times in years past.

Dix says that typically dips below 9,000 in the summer, but not this year, when it kept increasing, creating worries ahead of the fall-winter flu season when emergency demand spikes.

In May, Surrey Memorial’s Medical Staff Association issued an open letter to management, criticizing their lack of “any tangible support” for overstretched emergency-room doctors and placing the health of Surrey residents in jeopardy.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 8, 2023.

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