EDITORIAL: Unhealthy funding formula

Fraser Valley residents are only getting about half the level of health care funding as their Vancouver counterparts, according to the B.C. auditor-general’s latest report.

The report states that the Fraser Health Authority receives $1,585 per capita as compared to $3,008 per capita received by Vancouver Coastal Health Authority.

Fraser Health also gets less than the Vancouver Island Health Authority ($2,554 per capita), Northern Health Authority ($2,465) and the Interior Health Authority ($2,372).

The question is, why are Valley patients being short-changed?

It may be that the formula used to establish funding levels has become outdated. The Fraser Valley has experienced significant growth in the past decade.

Abbotsford, now home to a state-of-the-art hospital and cancer centre, has more than doubled in size since 1981. In the past five years, it experienced a 7.4 per cent increase in population  from 124,258 to 133,497.

It would appear its growth, like that of other municipalities in the Fraser Health region, is not properly factored into the current funding formula.

Abbotsford Coun. John Smith has crunched the numbers and found that Fraser Health received 28 per cent of the overall health budget, for 39 per cent of the population.

Clearly, this is not workable.

While Fraser Health has done a  good job at providing health care services, it is being handcuffed by an unbalanced system that should provide the same per capita funding for all residents.

The next provincial government needs to take a close look at health funding policies and ensure that residents are not disadvantaged in terms of medical care according to what region they live in.

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